The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Flourish. Enter Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta, and

tender (v.) 1 offer, give, present


Now let 'em enter, and before the gods

Tender their holy prayers; let the temples

Burn bright with sacred fires, and the altars

In hallowed clouds commend their swelling incense
commend (v.) 3 present, introduce, bring [for favourable acceptance]
swelling (adj.) 1 billowing, rising up

To those above us. Let no due be wanting;
due (n.) 1 appropriate ritual, propriety
want (v.) 3 fall short [of], be deficient [in]

They have a noble work in hand, will honour
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities

The very powers that love 'em.


                         Sir, they enter.

Flourish of cornets. Enter Palamon and Arcite and

their knights


You valiant and strong-hearted enemies,

You royal german foes, that this day come
german, germane (adj.) 1 near related, closely akin

To blow that nearness out that flames between ye,
nearness (n.) intimacy, close relationship

Lay by your anger for an hour, and dove-like

Before the holy altars of your helpers,

The all-feared gods, bow down your stubborn bodies.

Your ire is more than mortal; so your help be,

And as the gods regard ye, fight with justice.
regard (v.) 3 gaze upon, look down on, observe

I'll leave you to your prayers, and betwixt ye

I part my wishes.


                         Honour crown the worthiest!

Exeunt Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta, and attendants
part (v.) 2 divide, share, split up
wish (n.) (plural) good wishes


The glass is running now that cannot finish
glass (n.) 3 [sand of the] hourglass

Till one of us expire. Think you but thus,

That were there aught in me which strove to show
aught (n.) anything, [with negative word] nothing See Topics: Frequency count
show (v.) appear, look [like], present [as]

Mine enemy in this business, were't one eye

Against another, arm oppressed by arm,
oppress (v.) 1 dominate, overwhelm, crush

I would destroy th' offender, coz; I would,

Though parcel of myself. Then from this gather
parcel (n.) 1 part, piece, portion, bit

How I should tender you.
tender (v.) 3 rate, esteem, regard


                         I am in labour

To push your name, your ancient love, our kindred,

Out of my memory, and i'th' self-same place

To seat something I would confound. So hoist we
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin

The sails, that must these vessels port even where
port (v.) carry, bring; or: bring to port

The heavenly limiter pleases.
limiter (n.) arbiter, judge [of the limits of life]


                         You speak well.

Before I turn, let me embrace thee, cousin;
turn (v.) 4 turn away, face the other way

They embrace

This I shall never do again.


                         One farewell.


Why, let it be so; farewell, coz.


                         Farewell, sir.

Exeunt Palamon and his knights

Knights, kinsmen, lovers – yea, my sacrifices! –

True worshippers of Mars, whose spirit in you

Expels the seeds of fear, and th' apprehension

Which still is farther off it, go with me

Before the god of our profession; there

Require of him the hearts of lions and
require (v.) 1 request, ask, beg

The breath of tigers, yea, the fierceness too,

Yea, the speed also – to go on, I mean;
go on (v.) go forward, press ahead

Else wish we to be snails. You know my prize

Must be dragged out of blood; force and great feat
feat (n.) 2 action, deed, conduct

Must put my garland on me, where she sticks,
garland (n.) 1 wreath of victory
stick (v.) 1 be placed, be fixed

The queen of flowers. Our intercession, then,
intercession (n.) 1 prayer, plea, entreaty

Must be to him that makes the camp a cistern

Brimmed with the blood of men; give me your aid,
brimmed (adj.) filled to the brim, brimful

And bend your spirits towards him.

They prostrate themselves, then kneel before the altar

of Mars

Thou mighty one, that with thy power hast turned

Green Neptune into purple, whose approach

Comets prewarn, whose havoc in vast field
prewarn (v.) forewarn, forecast, predict

Unearthed skulls proclaim, whose breath blows down
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count
unearthed (adj.) unburied; or: dug out, disclosed

The teeming Ceres' foison, who dost pluck
foison, foizon (n.) 2 harvest, crop
pluck (v.) 1 draw down, bring down

With hand armipotent from forth blue clouds
armipotent (adj.) mighty in arms, powerful in arms

The masoned turrets, that both makest and breakest
masoned (adj.) formed with masonry; or: mason-built

The stony girths of cities; me thy pupil,
girth (n.) 1 circumference, perimeter

Youngest follower of thy drum, instruct this day

With military skill, that to thy laud
laud (n.) 1 praise, homage, honour

I may advance my streamer, and by thee
advance (v.) 1 raise, lift up, upraise
streamer (n.) banner, pennant, standard

Be styled the lord o'th' day; give me, great Mars,
style (v.) 1 call, name, designate

Some token of thy pleasure.
token (n.) 1 sign, evidence, mark

Here they fall on their faces as formerly, and there is

heard clanging of armour, with a short thunder as the

burst of a battle, whereupon they all rise and bow to

the altar

O great corrector of enormous times,
burst (n.) bursting out, violent outbreak
enormous (adj.) disorderly, abnormal, monstrous

Shaker of o'er-rank states, thou grand decider
over-rank (adj.) over-ripe; rotten, corrupted

Of dusty and old titles, that healest with blood
blood (n.) 11 blood-letting, bleeding

The earth when it is sick, and curest the world

O'th' plurisy of people; I do take
pleurisy, plurisy (n.) excess, superfluity, superabundance

Thy signs auspiciously, and in thy name

To my design march boldly. Let us go.

Exeunt Arcite and his knights

Enter Palamon and his knights, with the former



Our stars must glister with new fire, or be
glister (v.) glitter, sparkle, gleam
observance (n.) 2 honour, dutiful ceremony, due respect
star (n.) 3 fate, fortune, destiny [as determined by the stars] See Topics: Cosmos

Today extinct; our argument is love,
argument (n.) 5 quarrel, dispute, point of contention

Which if the goddess of it grant, she gives

Victory too. Then blend your spirits with mine,

You whose free nobleness do make my cause
free (adj.) 1 liberal, lavish, generous

Your personal hazard; to the goddess Venus

Commend we our proceeding, and implore
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over

Her power unto our party.

Here they prostrate themselves, then kneel as formerly

to the altar of Venus

Hail, sovereign queen of secrets, who hast power

To call the fiercest tyrant from his rage

And weep unto a girl; that hast the might

Even with an eye-glance to choke Mars's drum
choke (v.) 2 silence, quieten, still

And turn th' alarm to whispers; that canst make
alarm, alarum, 'larm, 'larum (n.) 1 call to arms, call to battle, signal to begin fighting See Topics: Stage directions

A cripple flourish with his crutch, and cure him
flourish with (v.) wave, brandish, shake about

Before Apollo; that mayst force the king

To be his subject's vassal, and induce
vassal (n.) 1 servant, slave, subject

Stale gravity to dance; the polled bachelor,
gravity (n.) 2 old age, the aged, the elderly
polled (adj.) 1 bald, hairless
stale (adj.) 5 worn out, past the prime of life

Whose youth, like wanton boys through bonfires,
wanton (adj.) 3 unrestrained, undisciplined, boisterous, uncontrolled

Have skipped thy flame, at seventy thou canst catch,
skip (v.) 2 jump over, avoid, pass by

And make him, to the scorn of his hoarse throat,
scorn (n.) 2 object of scorn, target of mockery

Abuse young lays of love. What godlike power
abuse (v.) 2 misuse, maltreat, treat badly, wrong
lay (n.) 1 song
power (n.) 9 (usually plural) gods, deities, divinities

Hast thou not power upon? To Phoebus thou

Addest flames hotter than his; the heavenly fires

Did scorch his mortal son, thine him; the huntress

All moist and cold, some say began to throw
cold (adj.) 1 chaste, modest, lacking sensual passion

Her bow away and sigh. Take to thy grace

Me thy vowed soldier, who do bear thy yoke

As 'twere a wreath of roses, yet is heavier

Than lead itself, stings more than nettles.

I have never been foul-mouthed against thy law,

Ne'er revealed secret, for I knew none; would not,

Had I kenned all that were; I never practised
ken (v.) 2 know, understand, be aware of
practise on / upon (v.) 3 try to seduce, carry on with

Upon man's wife, nor would the libels read
libel (n.) 1 false statement, damaging attack [on women]

Of liberal wits; I never at great feasts
liberal (adj.) 2 coarse, licentious, promiscuous
wit (n.) 6 lively person, sharp-minded individual

Sought to betray a beauty, but have blushed
betray (v.) 2 disclose the secrets of, reveal the indiscretions of

At simpering sirs that did; I have been harsh

To large confessors, and have hotly asked them
confessor (n.) boaster, braggart [of love affairs]
hotly (adv.) 1 angrily, passionately, fiercely
large (adj.) 5 grandiose, impressive sounding

If they had mothers – I had one, a woman,

And women 'twere they wronged. I knew a man

Of eighty winters – this I told them – who

A lass of fourteen brided. 'Twas thy power
bride (v.) 1 marry, wed

To put life into dust; the aged cramp
cramp (n.) rheumatic, arthritic

Had screwed his square foot round,
screw (v.) 1 twist, force, contort
square (adj.) 1 good, sturdy, sound

The gout had knit his fingers into knots,

Torturing convulsions from his globy eyes
globy (adj.) globular, bulging, protruding

Had almost drawn their spheres, that what was life
draw (v.) 6 pull out, force out
sphere (n.) 5 (plural) orbits [of the eye], sockets

In him seemed torture. This anatomy
anatomy (n.) 1 body, skeleton, skin and bones

Had by his young fair fere a boy, and I
fere (n.) spouse, partner, wife / husband

Believed it was his, for she swore it was,

And who would not believe her? Brief, I am
brief (adv.) 1 in short, briefly, in sum

To those that prate and have done, no companion;
prate (v.) prattle, chatter, blather See Topics: Frequency count

To those that boast and have not, a defier;
defier (n.) 1 challenger, confronter, denouncer

To those that would and cannot, a rejoicer.
rejoicer (n.) cheerer, encourager, consoler

Yea, him I do not love that tells close offices
close (adj.) 1 secret, concealed, hidden
office (n.) 4 performance, business, intrigue

The foulest way, nor names concealments in
concealment (n.) 1 something to be concealed, secret

The boldest language; such a one I am,
bold (adj.) 3 shameless, immodest, outspoken, coarse

And vow that lover never yet made sigh

Truer than I. O then, most soft sweet goddess,

Give me the victory of this question, which
question (n.) 1 argument, contention, dispute

Is true love's merit, and bless me with a sign
merit (n.) 2 reward, just desert

Of thy great pleasure.

Here music is heard and doves are seen to flutter. They

fall again upon their faces, then on their knees

O thou that from eleven to ninety reignest

In mortal bosoms, whose chase is this world
chase (n.) 3 hunting ground, territory

And we in herds thy game, I give thee thanks

For this fair token, which, being laid unto
lay unto (v.) add to, place along with
token (n.) 1 sign, evidence, mark

Mine innocent true heart, arms in assurance
assurance (n.) 1 security, certainty, confidence

My body to this business. Let us rise

And bow before the goddess.

They bow

                         Time comes on.

Exeunt Palamon and his knights

Still music of records. Enter Emilia in white, her

hair about her shoulders, with a wheaten wreath; one

in white holding up her train, her hair stuck with

flowers; one before her carrying a silver hind, in

which is conveyed incense and sweet odours; which

being set upon the altar of Diana, her maids standing

aloof, she sets fire to it. Then they curtsy and kneel


O sacred, shadowy, cold, and constant queen,
aloof (adv.) a short distance away, to one side See Topics: Stage directions
cold (adj.) 1 chaste, modest, lacking sensual passion
record (n.) 4 recorder
stick (v.) 5 decorate, adorn
still (adj.) 2 quiet, calm, subdued

Abandoner of revels, mute contemplative,

Sweet, solitary, white as chaste, and pure

As wind-fanned snow, who to thy female knights

Allowest no more blood than will make a blush,
blood (n.) 1 passion, feeling, strong emotion [especially sexual]

Which is their order's robe; I here, thy priest,

Am humbled 'fore thine altar. O, vouchsafe

With that thy rare green eye, which never yet

Beheld thing maculate, look on thy virgin;
maculate (adj.) impure, spotted, stained

And, sacred silver mistress, lend thine ear –

Which ne'er heard scurril term, into whose port
port (n.) 1 portal, entrance, gateway
scurril (adj.) scurrilous, coarse, vulgar

Ne'er entered wanton sound – to my petition
wanton (adj.) 6 lascivious, lewd, obscene

Seasoned with holy fear. This is my last
fear (n.) 1 awe, reverence, dread
season (v.) 6 imbue, infuse, fill

Of vestal office; I am bride-habited,
bride-habited (adj.) dressed as a bride
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count
vestal (adj.) 1 as a virgin priestess

But maiden-hearted; a husband I have 'pointed,
appoint (v.) 3 destine, assign, arrange

But do not know him. Out of two I should

Choose one, and pray for his success, but I

Am guiltless of election. Of mine eyes
election (n.) choice, preference

Were I to lose one, they are equal precious,

I could doom neither; that which perished should
doom (v.) 2 condemn, pronounce judgement against

Go to't unsentenced. Therefore, most modest queen,

He of the two pretenders that best loves me
pretender (n.) claimant, suitor, wooer

And has the truest title in't, let him
title (n.) 1 [legal] right, claim, entitlement
true (adj.) 6 legitimate, rightful, honourable

Take off my wheaten garland, or else grant

The file and quality I hold I may
file (n.) 4 rank, status, standing
quality (n.) 3 rank, standing, position

Continue in thy band.
band (n.) 4 company, society, fellowship

Here the hind vanishes under the altar, and in the

place ascends a rose tree, having one rose upon it

See what our general of ebbs and flows

Out from the bowels of her holy altar
bowels (n.) 1 depths, core, interior

With sacred act advances: but one rose!

If well inspired, this battle shall confound
confound (v.) 1 destroy, overthrow, ruin

Both these brave knights, and I a virgin flower
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent

Must grow alone, unplucked.

Here is heard a sudden twang of instruments, and the

rose falls from the tree

The flower is fallen, the tree descends! O mistress,

Thou here dischargest me; I shall be gathered;
discharge (v.) 6 release from service, let go, dismiss

I think so, but I know not thine own will;

Unclasp thy mystery. – I hope she's pleased;
unclasp (v.) reveal, display, divulge

Her signs were gracious.

They curtsy and exeunt

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