The Two Noble Kinsmen/Act 2/Scene 2

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The Two Noble Kinsmen by William Shakespeare
Act 2/Scene 2

Scaena 2. (The prison)

[Enter Palamon, and Arcite in prison.]

PALAMON.

How doe you, Noble Cosen?

ARCITE.

How doe you, Sir?

PALAMON.

Why strong inough to laugh at misery,
And beare the chance of warre, yet we are prisoners,
I feare, for ever, Cosen.

ARCITE.

I beleeve it,
And to that destiny have patiently
Laide up my houre to come.

PALAMON.

O Cosen Arcite,
Where is Thebs now? where is our noble Country?
Where are our friends, and kindreds? never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youthes strive for the Games of honour
(Hung with the painted favours of their Ladies,
Like tall Ships under saile) then start among'st 'em
And as an Eastwind leave 'en all behinde us,
Like lazy Clowdes, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
Even in the wagging of a wanton leg
Out-stript the peoples praises, won the Garlands,
Ere they have time to wish 'em ours. O never
Shall we two exercise, like Twyns of honour,
Our Armes againe, and feele our fyry horses
Like proud Seas under us: our good Swords now
(Better the red-eyd god of war nev'r wore)
Ravishd our sides, like age must run to rust,
And decke the Temples of those gods that hate us:
These hands shall never draw'em out like lightning,
To blast whole Armies more.

ARCITE.

No, Palamon,
Those hopes are Prisoners with us; here we are
And here the graces of our youthes must wither
Like a too-timely Spring; here age must finde us,
And, which is heaviest, Palamon, unmarried;
The sweete embraces of a loving wife,
Loden with kisses, armd with thousand Cupids
Shall never claspe our neckes, no issue know us,
No figures of our selves shall we ev'r see,
To glad our age, and like young Eagles teach 'em
Boldly to gaze against bright armes, and say:
'Remember what your fathers were, and conquer.'
The faire-eyd Maides, shall weepe our Banishments,
And in their Songs, curse ever-blinded fortune,
Till shee for shame see what a wrong she has done
To youth and nature. This is all our world;
We shall know nothing here but one another,
Heare nothing but the Clocke that tels our woes.
The Vine shall grow, but we shall never see it:
Sommer shall come, and with her all delights;
But dead-cold winter must inhabite here still.

PALAMON.

Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban houndes,
That shooke the aged Forrest with their ecchoes,
No more now must we halloa, no more shake
Our pointed Iavelyns, whilst the angry Swine
Flyes like a parthian quiver from our rages,
Strucke with our well-steeld Darts: All valiant uses
(The foode, and nourishment of noble mindes,)
In us two here shall perish; we shall die
(Which is the curse of honour) lastly
Children of greife, and Ignorance.

ARCITE.

Yet, Cosen,
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rysing, two meere blessings,
If the gods please: to hold here a brave patience,
And the enjoying of our greefes together.
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I thinke this our prison.

PALAMON.

Certeinly,
Tis a maine goodnes, Cosen, that our fortunes
Were twyn'd together; tis most true, two soules
Put in two noble Bodies—let 'em suffer
The gaule of hazard, so they grow together—
Will never sincke; they must not, say they could:
A willing man dies sleeping, and all's done.

ARCITE.

Shall we make worthy uses of this place
That all men hate so much?

PALAMON.

How, gentle Cosen?

ARCITE.

Let's thinke this prison holy sanctuary,
To keepe us from corruption of worse men.
We are young and yet desire the waies of honour,
That liberty and common Conversation,
The poyson of pure spirits, might like women
Wooe us to wander from. What worthy blessing
Can be but our Imaginations
May make it ours? And heere being thus together,
We are an endles mine to one another;
We are one anothers wife, ever begetting
New birthes of love; we are father, friends, acquaintance;
We are, in one another, Families,
I am your heire, and you are mine: This place
Is our Inheritance, no hard Oppressour
Dare take this from us; here, with a little patience,
We shall live long, and loving: No surfeits seeke us:
The hand of war hurts none here, nor the Seas
Swallow their youth: were we at liberty,
A wife might part us lawfully, or busines;
Quarrels consume us, Envy of ill men
Grave our acquaintance; I might sicken, Cosen,
Where you should never know it, and so perish
Without your noble hand to close mine eies,
Or praiers to the gods: a thousand chaunces,
Were we from hence, would seaver us.

PALAMON.

You have made me
(I thanke you, Cosen Arcite) almost wanton
With my Captivity: what a misery
It is to live abroade, and every where!
Tis like a Beast, me thinkes: I finde the Court here—
I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures
That wooe the wils of men to vanity,
I see through now, and am sufficient
To tell the world, tis but a gaudy shaddow,
That old Time, as he passes by, takes with him.
What had we bin, old in the Court of Creon,
Where sin is Iustice, lust and ignorance
The vertues of the great ones! Cosen Arcite,
Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
We had died as they doe, ill old men, unwept,
And had their Epitaphes, the peoples Curses:
Shall I say more?

ARCITE.

I would heare you still.

PALAMON.

Ye shall.
Is there record of any two that lov'd
Better then we doe, Arcite?

ARCITE.

Sure, there cannot.

PALAMON.

I doe not thinke it possible our friendship
Should ever leave us.

ARCITE.

Till our deathes it cannot;

[Enter Emilia and her woman (below).]

And after death our spirits shall be led
To those that love eternally. Speake on, Sir.

EMILIA.

This garden has a world of pleasures in't.
What Flowre is this?

WOMAN.

Tis calld Narcissus, Madam.

EMILIA.

That was a faire Boy, certaine, but a foole,
To love himselfe; were there not maides enough?

ARCITE.

Pray forward.

PALAMON.

Yes.

EMILIA.

Or were they all hard hearted?

WOMAN.

They could not be to one so faire.

EMILIA.

Thou wouldst not.

WOMAN.

I thinke I should not, Madam.

EMILIA.

That's a good wench:
But take heede to your kindnes though.

WOMAN.

Why, Madam?

EMILIA.

Men are mad things.

ARCITE.

Will ye goe forward, Cosen?

EMILIA.

Canst not thou worke such flowers in silke, wench?

WOMAN.

Yes.

EMILIA.

Ile have a gowne full of 'em, and of these;
This is a pretty colour, wilt not doe
Rarely upon a Skirt, wench?

WOMAN.

Deinty, Madam.

ARCITE.

Cosen, Cosen, how doe you, Sir? Why, Palamon?

PALAMON.

Never till now I was in prison, Arcite.

ARCITE.

Why whats the matter, Man?

PALAMON.

Behold, and wonder.
By heaven, shee is a Goddesse.

ARCITE.

Ha.

PALAMON.

Doe reverence. She is a Goddesse, Arcite.

EMILIA.

Of all Flowres, me thinkes a Rose is best.

WOMAN.

Why, gentle Madam?

EMILIA.

It is the very Embleme of a Maide.
For when the west wind courts her gently,
How modestly she blowes, and paints the Sun,
With her chaste blushes! When the North comes neere her,
Rude and impatient, then, like Chastity,
Shee lockes her beauties in her bud againe,
And leaves him to base briers.

WOMAN.

Yet, good Madam,
Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
She fals for't: a Mayde,
If shee have any honour, would be loth
To take example by her.

EMILIA.

Thou art wanton.

ARCITE.

She is wondrous faire.

PALAMON.

She is beauty extant.

EMILIA.

The Sun grows high, lets walk in: keep these flowers;
Weele see how neere Art can come neere their colours.
I am wondrous merry hearted, I could laugh now.

WOMAN.

I could lie downe, I am sure.

EMILIA.

And take one with you?

WOMAN.

That's as we bargaine, Madam.

EMILIA.

Well, agree then. [Exeunt Emilia and woman.]

PALAMON.

What thinke you of this beauty?

ARCITE.

Tis a rare one.

PALAMON.

Is't but a rare one?

ARCITE.

Yes, a matchles beauty.

PALAMON.

Might not a man well lose himselfe and love her?

ARCITE.

I cannot tell what you have done, I have;
Beshrew mine eyes for't: now I feele my Shackles.

PALAMON.

You love her, then?

ARCITE.

Who would not?

PALAMON.

And desire her?

ARCITE.

Before my liberty.

PALAMON.

I saw her first.

ARCITE.

That's nothing.

PALAMON.

But it shall be.

ARCITE.

I saw her too.

PALAMON.

Yes, but you must not love her.

ARCITE.

I will not as you doe, to worship her,
As she is heavenly, and a blessed Goddes;
I love her as a woman, to enjoy her:
So both may love.

PALAMON.

You shall not love at all.

ARCITE.

Not love at all!
Who shall deny me?

PALAMON.

I, that first saw her; I, that tooke possession
First with mine eyes of all those beauties
In her reveald to mankinde: if thou lou'st her,
Or entertain'st a hope to blast my wishes,
Thou art a Traytour, Arcite, and a fellow
False as thy Title to her: friendship, blood,
And all the tyes betweene us I disclaime,
If thou once thinke upon her.

ARCITE.

Yes, I love her,
And if the lives of all my name lay on it,
I must doe so; I love her with my soule:
If that will lose ye, farewell, Palamon;
I say againe, I love, and in loving her maintaine
I am as worthy and as free a lover,
And have as just a title to her beauty
As any Palamon or any living
That is a mans Sonne.

PALAMON.

Have I cald thee friend?

ARCITE.

Yes, and have found me so; why are you mov'd thus?
Let me deale coldly with you: am not I
Part of your blood, part of your soule? you have told me
That I was Palamon, and you were Arcite.

PALAMON.

Yes.

ARCITE.

Am not I liable to those affections,
Those joyes, greifes, angers, feares, my friend shall suffer?

PALAMON.

Ye may be.

ARCITE.

Why, then, would you deale so cunningly,
So strangely, so vnlike a noble kinesman,
To love alone? speake truely: doe you thinke me
Vnworthy of her sight?

PALAMON.

No; but unjust,
If thou pursue that sight.

ARCITE.

Because an other
First sees the Enemy, shall I stand still
And let mine honour downe, and never charge?

PALAMON.

Yes, if he be but one.

ARCITE.

But say that one
Had rather combat me?

PALAMON.

Let that one say so,
And use thy freedome; els if thou pursuest her,
Be as that cursed man that hates his Country,
A branded villaine.

ARCITE.

You are mad.

PALAMON.

I must be,
Till thou art worthy, Arcite; it concernes me,
And in this madnes, if I hazard thee
And take thy life, I deale but truely.

ARCITE.

Fie, Sir,
You play the Childe extreamely: I will love her,
I must, I ought to doe so, and I dare;
And all this justly.

PALAMON.

O that now, that now
Thy false-selfe and thy friend had but this fortune,
To be one howre at liberty, and graspe
Our good Swords in our hands! I would quickly teach thee
What 'twer to filch affection from another:
Thou art baser in it then a Cutpurse;
Put but thy head out of this window more,
And as I have a soule, Ile naile thy life too't.

ARCITE.

Thou dar'st not, foole, thou canst not, thou art feeble.
Put my head out? Ile throw my Body out,
And leape the garden, when I see her next

[Enter Keeper.]

And pitch between her armes to anger thee.

PALAMON.

No more; the keeper's comming; I shall live
To knocke thy braines out with my Shackles.

ARCITE.

Doe.

KEEPER.

By your leave, Gentlemen—

PALAMON.

Now, honest keeper?

KEEPER.

Lord Arcite, you must presently to'th Duke;
The cause I know not yet.

ARCITE.

I am ready, keeper.

KEEPER.

Prince Palamon, I must awhile bereave you
Of your faire Cosens Company. [Exeunt Arcite, and Keeper.]

PALAMON.

And me too,
Even when you please, of life. Why is he sent for?
It may be he shall marry her; he's goodly,
And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
Both of his blood and body: But his falsehood!
Why should a friend be treacherous? If that
Get him a wife so noble, and so faire,
Let honest men ne're love againe. Once more
I would but see this faire One. Blessed Garden,
And fruite, and flowers more blessed, that still blossom
As her bright eies shine on ye! would I were,
For all the fortune of my life hereafter,
Yon little Tree, yon blooming Apricocke;
How I would spread, and fling my wanton armes
In at her window; I would bring her fruite
Fit for the Gods to feed on: youth and pleasure
Still as she tasted should be doubled on her,
And if she be not heavenly, I would make her
So neere the Gods in nature, they should feare her,

[Enter Keeper.]

And then I am sure she would love me. How now, keeper.
Wher's Arcite?

KEEPER.

Banishd: Prince Pirithous
Obtained his liberty; but never more
Vpon his oth and life must he set foote
Vpon this Kingdome.

PALAMON.

Hees a blessed man!
He shall see Thebs againe, and call to Armes
The bold yong men, that, when he bids 'em charge,
Fall on like fire: Arcite shall have a Fortune,
If he dare make himselfe a worthy Lover,
Yet in the Feild to strike a battle for her;
And if he lose her then, he's a cold Coward;
How bravely may he beare himselfe to win her
If he be noble Arcite—thousand waies.
Were I at liberty, I would doe things
Of such a vertuous greatnes, that this Lady,
This blushing virgine, should take manhood to her
And seeke to ravish me.

KEEPER.

My Lord for you
I have this charge too—

PALAMON.

To discharge my life?

KEEPER.

No, but from this place to remoove your Lordship:
The windowes are too open.

PALAMON.

Devils take 'em,
That are so envious to me! pre'thee kill me.

KEEPER.

And hang for't afterward.

PALAMON.

By this good light,
Had I a sword I would kill thee.

KEEPER.

Why, my Lord?

PALAMON.

Thou bringst such pelting scuruy news continually
Thou art not worthy life. I will not goe.

KEEPER.

Indeede, you must, my Lord.

PALAMON.

May I see the garden?

KEEPER.

Noe.

PALAMON.

Then I am resolud, I will not goe.

KEEPER.

I must constraine you then: and for you are dangerous,
Ile clap more yrons on you.

PALAMON.

Doe, good keeper.
Ile shake 'em so, ye shall not sleepe;
Ile make ye a new Morrisse: must I goe?

KEEPER.

There is no remedy.

PALAMON.

Farewell, kinde window.
May rude winde never hurt thee. O, my Lady,
If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was,
Dreame how I suffer. Come; now bury me. [Exeunt Palamon, and
Keeper.]