The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Emilia alone, with two pictures


Yet I may bind those wounds up, that must open

And bleed to death for my sake else; I'll choose,

And end their strife. Two such young handsome men

Shall never fall for me; their weeping mothers,

Following the dead cold ashes of their sons,

Shall never curse my cruelty. Good heaven,

What a sweet face has Arcite! If wise Nature
nature (n.) 6 natural order, ungoverned state, way of the world [often personified]

With all her best endowments, all those beauties

She sows into the births of noble bodies,

Were here a mortal woman, and had in her

The coy denials of young maids, yet doubtless

She would run mad for this man. What an eye,

Of what a fiery sparkle and quick sweetness,
quick (adj.) 2 lively, animated, vivacious
sweetness (n.) delight, pleasure, charm

Has this young prince! Here love himself sits smiling.

Just such another, wanton Ganymede
wanton (adj.) 1 carefree, light-hearted, frolicsome, playful

Set Jove afire with, and enforced the god

Snatch up the goodly boy, and set him by him,

A shining constellation. What a brow,

Of what a spacious majesty, he carries,
brow (n.) 1 appearance, aspect, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

Arched like the great-eyed Juno's, but far sweeter,

Smoother than Pelops' shoulder! Fame and honour,

Methinks, from hence, as from a promontory
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

Pointed in heaven, should clap their wings, and sing
pointed (adj.) ending in a point, coming to a peak

To all the under world the loves and fights
under-world (n.) earth, terrestrial world

Of gods and such men near 'em. Palamon

Is but his foil; to him, a mere dull shadow.
foil (n.) 3 setting, background which sets something off to advantage [as dull metal sets off a gem]
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

He's swarth and meagre, of an eye as heavy
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count
meagre (adj.) 2 thin, slight, scrawny
swart, swarth (adj.) swarthy, dusky, of dark complexion

As if he had lost his mother; a still temper,
still (adj.) 6 lethargic, indolent, sluggish
temper (n.) 1 frame of mind, temperament, disposition

No stirring in him, no alacrity,
stirring (n.) liveliness, animation, vivacity

Of all this sprightly sharpness not a smile.
smile (n.) trace, sign, hint

Yet these that we count errors may become him;
become (v.) 2 grace, honour, dignify See Topics: Frequency count
error (n.) 3 defect, flaw, blemish

Narcissus was a sad boy, but a heavenly.
heavenly (adj.) 1 beautiful, delightful, sublime
sad (adj.) 1 serious, grave, solemn See Topics: Frequency count

O, who can find the bent of woman's fancy?
bent (n.) 1 direction, turning, inclination
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation

I am a fool; my reason is lost in me,

I have no choice, and I have lied so lewdly
choice (n.) 3 ability to choose, skill in choosing
lewdly (adv.) 2 stupidly, foolishly

That women ought to beat me. On my knees

I ask thy pardon; Palamon, thou art alone
alone (adv.) only, solely, uniquely

And only beautiful, and these the eyes,

These the bright lamps of beauty, that command

And threaten love, and what young maid dare cross 'em?
cross (v.) 4 cross the path of, intercept, encounter
cross (v.) 2 contradict, challenge, go against

What a bold gravity, and yet inviting,

Has this brown manly face! O love, this only

From this hour is complexion. Lie there, Arcite;
complexion (n.) 1 appearance, look, colouring

Thou art a changeling to him, a mere gypsy,
changeling (n./adj.) 2 unsightly person [>> sense 1: an ugly or deformed child left by fairies in exchange for a beautiful one]
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

And this the noble body. I am sotted,
sotted (adj.) turned into a fool, besotted

Utterly lost; my virgin's faith has fled me.
faith (n.) 2 constancy, fidelity, loyalty

For if my brother but even now had asked me
even, e'en (adv.) 2 just [now]

Whether I loved, I had run mad for Arcite;

Now if my sister, more for Palamon.

Stand both together. Now come ask me, brother –
stand (v.) 6 be placed, set, arrange

Alas, I know not! Ask me now, sweet sister;

I may go look. What a mere child is fancy,
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation
look (v.) 2 find, seek, look for
mere (adj.) 1 complete, total, absolute, utter See Topics: Frequency count

That having two fair gauds of equal sweetness,
gaud (n.) gaudy toy, showy plaything, trinket

Cannot distinguish, but must cry for both!
distinguish (v.) 3 discriminate, decide between

Enter a Gentleman

How now, sir?


                         From the noble Duke your brother,

Madam, I bring you news; the knights are come.


To end the quarrel?




                                                         Would I might end first!

What sins have I committed, chaste Diana,

That my unspotted youth must now be soiled
soil (v.) blemish, stain, tarnish

With blood of princes, and my chastity

Be made the altar where the lives of lovers –

Two greater and two better never yet

Made mothers joy – must be the sacrifice

To my unhappy beauty?

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, and attendants
unhappy (adj.) 2 hapless, miserable, wretched


                         Bring 'em in

Quickly, by any means; I long to see 'em. –

Your two contending lovers are returned,

And with them their fair knights; now, my fair sister,

You must love one of them.


                         I had rather both,

So neither for my sake should fall untimely.
untimely (adv.) 1 prematurely, too soon, before due time


Who saw 'em?
awhile (adv.) a short time, briefly


                         I awhile.


                                                         And I.

Enter a Messenger


From whence come you, sir?


                         From the knights.


                                                         Pray speak,

You that have seen them, what they are.


                         I will, sir,

And truly what I think. Six braver spirits
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

Than these they have brought – if we judge by the outside –

I never saw, nor read of. He that stands

In the first place with Arcite, by his seeming
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count
seeming (n.) 1 appearance, look, aspect

Should be a stout man; by his face, a prince.
stout (adj.) 1 brave, valiant, resolute

His very looks so say him; his complexion,
say (v.) 3 proclaim, announce, declare

Nearer a brown than black, stern and yet noble,

Which shows him hardy, fearless, proud of dangers;

The circles of his eyes show fire within him,

And as a heated lion, so he looks;
heated (adj.) angry, inflamed, enraged, aroused

His hair hangs long behind him, black and shining

Like ravens' wings; his shoulders broad and strong,

Armed long and round; and on his thigh a sword
armed (adj.) 3 with arms

Hung by a curious baldric, when he frowns
baldric, baldrick (n.) leather shoulder belt, strap [for holding a bugle, sword, etc] See Topics: Weapons
curious (adj.) 1 finely made, skilfully wrought, elaborate

To seal his will with – better, o'my conscience,
seal (v.) 2 accomplish, carry out, fulfil
will (n.) 4 intent, purpose, design

Was never soldier's friend.


Thou hast well described him.


                         Yet a great deal short,

Methinks, of him that's first with Palamon.
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


Pray speak him, friend.


                         I guess he is a prince too,

And if it may be, greater; for his show
great (adj.) 2 of high rank, eminent
show (n.) 2 spectacle, display, ceremony

Has all the ornament of honour in't.

He's somewhat bigger than the knight he spoke of,

But of a face far sweeter; his complexion

Is, as a ripe grape, ruddy; he has felt

Without doubt what he fights for, and so apter
apt (adj.) 4 likely, inclined, prone

To make this cause his own. In's face appears

All the fair hopes of what he undertakes,

And when he's angry, then a settled valour,
settled (adj.) 2 steady, steadfast, staunch

Not tainted with extremes, runs through his body,
extreme (n.) 4 intense emotion, violent passion

And guides his arm to brave things; fear he cannot,

He shows no such soft temper. His head's yellow,

Hard-haired and curled, thick-twined like ivy tods,
tod (n.) bush, bushy tuft

Not to undo with thunder; in his face
undo (v.) 1 ruin, destroy, wipe out

The livery of the warlike maid appears,
livery (n.) 1 uniform, costume, special clothing See Topics: Frequency count

Pure red and white, for yet no beard has blessed him;

And in his rolling eyes sits victory,
rolling (adj.) flashing, expressive

As if she ever meant to court his valour.

His nose stands high, a character of honour;
character (n.) 1 distinctive sign, stamp, trait

His red lips, after fights, are fit for ladies.


Must these men die too?


                         When he speaks, his tongue

Sounds like a trumpet; all his lineaments
lineament (n.) 2 (plural) parts of the body, form, shape

Are as a man would wish 'em, strong and clean;
clean (adj.) well-built, shapely, comely

He wears a well-steeled axe, the staff of gold;
staff (n.) 2 handle, shaft [of a weapon]

His age some five-and-twenty.


                         There's another,

A little man, but of a tough soul, seeming
seeming (n.) 1 appearance, look, aspect

As great as any; fairer promises
great (adj.) 3 valiant, noble, honourable

In such a body yet I never looked on.


O, he that's freckle-faced?


                         The same, my lord.

Are they not sweet ones?
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count


                         Yes, they are well.



Being so few and well disposed, they show
disposed (adj.) 1 arranged, placed, distributed

Great and fine art in Nature. He's white-haired,

Not wanton white, but such a manly colour
wanton (adj.) 12 feminine; or: child-like

Next to an auburn; tough and nimble-set,
auburn (adj.) yellow-brown, light brown
nimble-set (adj.) agile, athletic

Which shows an active soul; his arms are brawny,

Lined with strong sinews; to the shoulder-piece
line (v.) 1 strengthen, support, fortify
shoulder-piece (n.) armour covering the shoulder See Topics: Body-armour
sinew (n.) 1 muscle

Gently they swell, like women new-conceived,
new-conceived (adj.) in early pregnancy

Which speaks him prone to labour, never fainting
labour (n.) 2 hard work, physical toil [with pun on childbirth]
speak (v.) 3 proclaim, show, reveal

Under the weight of arms; stout-hearted, still,
still (adj.) 4 at rest, in repose

But when he stirs, a tiger; he's grey-eyed,

Which yields compassion where he conquers; sharp

To spy advantages, and where he finds 'em,

He's swift to make 'em his; he does no wrongs,

Nor takes none; he's round-faced, and when he smiles

He shows a lover, when he frowns, a soldier;
show (v.) appear, look [like], present [as]

About his head he wears the winner's oak,
oak (n.) crown of oak leaves [awarded to a victorious soldier]

And in it stuck the favour of his lady;

His age some six-and-thirty; in his hand

He bears a charging staff, embossed with silver.
charging-staff (n.) lance used in jousting See Topics: Weapons


Are they all thus?


                         They are all the sons of honour.


Now, as I have a soul, I long to see 'em!

Lady, you shall see men fight now.


                         I wish it;

But not the cause, my lord. They would show
show (v.) appear, look [like], present [as]

Bravely about the titles of two kingdoms;
bravely (adv.) 1 splendidly, worthily, excellently
title (n.) 1 [legal] right, claim, entitlement

'Tis pity love should be so tyrannous.

O my soft-hearted sister, what think you?

Weep not till they weep blood, wench; it must be.
wench (n.) girl, lass See Topics: Frequency count


You have steeled 'em with your beauty. – Honoured friend,
steel (v.) 2 make firm, give strength

To you I give the field; pray order it
field (n.) 2 duelling place

Fitting the persons that must use it.


                         Yes, sir.


Come, I'll go visit 'em; I cannot stay –

Their fame has fired me so – till they appear.
fame (n.) 2 report, account, description

Good friend, be royal.
bravery (n.) 2 splendour, fine display, ostentation
royal (adj.) 1 like a king, majestic
want (v.) 3 fall short [of], be deficient [in]


                         There shall want no bravery.


Poor wench, go weep, for whosoever wins

Loses a noble cousin for thy sins.


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