The Two Noble Kinsmen

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Original text
Florish.
New Playes, and Maydenheads, are neare a kin,

Much follow'd both, for both much mony g'yn,

If they stand sound, and well: And a good Play

(Whose modest Sceanes blush on his marriage day,

And shake to loose his honour) is like hir

That after holy Tye, and first nights stir

Yet still is Modestie, and still retaines

More of the maid to sight, than Husbands paines;

We pray our Play may be so; For I am sure

It has a noble Breeder, and a pure,

A learned, and a Poet never went

More famous yet twixt Po and silver Trent.

Chaucer (of all admir'd) the Story gives,

There constant to Eternity it lives;

If we let fall the Noblenesse of this,

And the first sound this child heare, be a hisse,

How will it shake the bones of that good man,

And make him cry from under ground, O fan

From me the witles chaffe of such a wrighter

That blastes my Bayes, and my fam'd workes makes lighter

Then Robin Hood? This is the feare we bring;

For to say Truth, it were an endlesse thing,

And too ambitious to aspire to him;

Weake as we are, and almost breathlesse swim

In this deepe water. Do but you hold out

Your helping hands, and we shall take about,

And something doe to save us: You shall heare

Sceanes though below his Art, may yet appeare

Worth two houres travell. To his bones sweet sleepe:

Content to you. If this play doe not keepe,

A little dull time from us, we perceave

Our losses fall so thicke, we must needs leave.

Florish.

PROLOGVE.
Modern text
Flourish
New plays and maidenheads are near akin,
Much followed both, for both much money gi'en,
If they stand sound and well. And a good play –
Whose modest scenes blush on his marriage day,
And shake to lose his honour – is like her
That after holy tie and first night's stir
Yet still is modesty, and still retains
More of the maid to sight than husband's pains.
We pray our play may be so; for I am sure
It has a noble breeder, and a pure,
A learned, and a poet never went
More famous yet 'twixt Po and silver Trent.
Chaucer, of all admired, the story gives;
There constant to eternity it lives.
If we let fall the nobleness of this,
And the first sound this child hear be a hiss,
How will it shake the bones of that good man,
And make him cry from under ground, ‘ O, fan
From me the witless chaff of such a writer
That blasts my bays and my famed works makes lighter
Than Robin Hood!’ This is the fear we bring;
For, to say truth, it were an endless thing,
And too ambitious, to aspire to him.
Weak as we are, and almost breathless swim
In this deep water, do but you hold out
Your helping hands, and we shall tack about,
And something do to save us; you shall hear
Scenes, though below his art, may yet appear
Worth two hours' travail. To his bones sweet sleep;
Content to you. If this play do not keep
A little dull time from us, we perceive
Our losses fall so thick we must needs leave.
Flourish. Exit
PROLOGUE
SHAKESPEARE'S WORDS © 2020 DAVID CRYSTAL & BEN CRYSTAL