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William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Oxford Shakespeare. 1914.

Act II. Scene IV.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Tyre.A Room in the Governor’s House.


Hel.No, Escanes, know this of me,

Antiochus from incest liv’d not free;

For which, the most high gods not minding longer

To withhold the vengeance that they had in store,

Due to this heinous capital offence,

Even in the height and pride of all his glory,

When he was seated in a chariot

Of an inestimable value, and his daughter with him,

A fire from heaven came and shrivell’d up

Their bodies, even to loathing; for they so stunk,

That all those eyes ador’d them ere their fall

Scorn now their hand should give them burial.

Esca.’Twas very strange.

Hel.And yet but just; for though

This king were great, his greatness was no guard

To bar heaven’s shaft, but sin had his reward.

Esca.’Tis very true.

Enter two or three Lords.

First Lord.See, not a man in private conference

Or council has respect with him but he.

Sec. Lord.It shall no longer grieve without reproof.

Third Lord.And curs’d be he that will not second it.

First Lord.Follow me then. Lord Helicane, a word.

Hel.With me? and welcome. Happy day, my lords.

First Lord.Know that our griefs are risen to the top,

And now at length they overflow their banks.

Hel.Your griefs! for what? wrong not the prince you love.

First Lord.Wrong not yourself then, noble Helicane;

But if the prince do live, let us salute him,

Or know what ground’s made happy by his breath.

If in the world he live, we’ll seek him out;

If in his grave he rest, we’ll find him there;

And be resolv’d he lives to govern us,

Or dead, give ’s cause to mourn his funeral,

And leaves us to our free election.

Sec. Lord.Whose death’s indeed the strongest in our censure:

And knowing this kingdom is without a head,

Like goodly buildings left without a roof

Soon fall to ruin, your noble self,

That best know’st how to rule and how to reign,

We thus submit unto, our sovereign.

All.Live, noble Helicane!

Hel.For honour’s cause forbear your suffrages:

If that you love Prince Pericles, forbear.

Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,

Where’s hourly trouble for a minute’s ease.

A twelvemonth longer, let me entreat you

To forbear the absence of your king;

If in which time expir’d he not return,

I shall with aged patience bear your yoke.

But if I cannot win you to this love,

Go search like nobles, like noble subjects,

And in your search spend your adventurous worth;

Whom if you find, and win unto return,

You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.

First Lord.To wisdom he’s a fool that will not yield;

And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,

We with our travels will endeavour it.

Hel.Then you love us, we you, and we’ll clasp hands:

When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.[Exeunt.