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

Act III. Prologue.

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

Enter GOWER.

Now sleep yslaked hath the rout;

No din but snores the house about,

Made louder by the o’er-fed breast

Of this most pompous marriage-feast.

The cat, with eyne of burning coal,

Now couches fore the mouse’s hole;

And crickets sing at the oven’s mouth,

E’er the blither for their drouth.

Hymen hath brought the bride to bed,

Where, by the loss of maidenhead,

A babe is moulded. Be attent;

And time that is so briefly spent

With your fine fancies quaintly eche;

What’s dumb in show I’ll plain with speech.


Enter, from one side, PERICLES and SIMONIDES, with Attendants; a Messenger meets them, kneels, and gives PERICLES a letter: PERICLES shows it to SIMONIDES; the Lords kneel to PERICLES.Then enter THAISA with child, and LYCHORIDA: SIMONIDES shows his daughter the letter; she rejoices: she and PERICLES take leave of her father, and all depart.

By many a dern and painful perch,

Of Pericles the careful search

By the four opposing coigns,

Which the world together joins,

Is made with all due diligence

That horse and sail and high expense,

Can stead the quest. At last from Tyre,

Fame answering the most strange inquire

To the court of King Simonides

Are letters brought, the tenour these:

Antiochus and his daughter dead;

The men of Tyrus on the head

Of Helicanus would set on

The crown of Tyre, but he will none:

The mutiny he there hastes t’ oppress;

Says to ’em, if King Pericles

Come not home in twice six moons,

He, obedient to their dooms,

Will take the crown. The sum of this,

Brought hither to Pentapolis,

Yravished the regions round,

And every one with claps can sound,

‘Our heir-apparent is a king!

Who dream’d, who thought of such a thing?’

Brief, he must hence depart to Tyre:

His queen, with child, makes her desire,

Which who shall cross?—along to go;

Omit we all their dole and woe:

Lychorida, her nurse, she takes,

And so to sea. Their vessel shakes

On Neptune’s billow; half the flood

Hath their keel cut: but Fortune’s mood

Varies again; the grisled north

Disgorges such a tempest forth,

That, as a duck for life that dives,

So up and down the poor ship drives.

The lady shrieks, and well-a-near

Does fall in travail with her fear;

And what ensues in this fell storm

Shall for itself itself perform.

I nill relate, action may

Conveniently the rest convey,

Which might not what by me is told.

In your imagination hold

This stage the ship, upon whose deck

The sea-tost Pericles appears to speak.[Exit.