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Pericles - Act 1, scene 4
Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workPericles - Act 1, scene 4
Act 1, scene 4
In Tarsus, King Cleon, Queen Dionyza, and the citizens of the country, dying of hunger, are saved by Pericles and his shiploads of grain.Enter Cleon the Governor of Tarsus, with his wife
⌜Dionyza⌝ and others.
0395 My Dionyza, shall we rest us here
0396 And, by relating tales of others’ griefs,
0397 See if ’twill teach us to forget our own?
0398 That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it;
0399 5 For who digs hills because they do aspire
0400 Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.
0401 O, my distressèd lord, even such our griefs are.
0402 Here they are but felt, and seen with mischief’s eyes,
0403 But like to groves, being topped, they higher rise.
CLEON 0404 10O Dionyza,
0405 Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it,
0406 Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?
0407 Our tongues and sorrows ⌜do⌝ sound deep our woes
0408 Into the air, our eyes ⌜do⌝ weep till ⌜lungs⌝
0409 15 Fetch breath that may proclaim them louder, that
0410 If heaven slumber while their creatures want,
0411 They may awake their helpers to comfort them.
0412 I’ll then discourse our woes, felt several years,
0413 And, wanting breath to speak, help me with tears.
p. 35DIONYZA 0414 20I’ll do my best, sir.
0415 This Tarsus, o’er which I have the government,
0416 A city on whom Plenty held full hand,
0417 For Riches strewed herself even in her streets;
0418 Whose towers bore heads so high they kissed the
0419 25 clouds,
0420 And strangers ne’er beheld but wondered at;
0421 Whose men and dames so jetted and adorned,
0422 Like one another’s glass to trim them by;
0423 Their tables were stored full to glad the sight,
0424 30 And not so much to feed on as delight;
0425 All poverty was scorned, and pride so great,
0426 The name of help grew odious to repeat.
DIONYZA 0427 O, ’tis too true.
0428 But see what heaven can do by this our change:
0429 35 These mouths who but of late earth, sea, and air
0430 Were all too little to content and please,
0431 Although ⌜they⌝ gave their creatures in abundance,
0432 As houses are defiled for want of use,
0433 They are now starved for want of exercise.
0434 40 Those palates who not yet two savors younger
0435 Must have inventions to delight the taste,
0436 Would now be glad of bread and beg for it.
0437 Those mothers who, to nuzzle up their babes,
0438 Thought naught too curious, are ready now
0439 45 To eat those little darlings whom they loved.
0440 So sharp are hunger’s teeth that man and wife
0441 Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.
0442 Here stands a lord and there a lady weeping;
0443 Here many sink, yet those which see them fall
0444 50 Have scarce strength left to give them burial.
0445 Is not this true?
0446 Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.
0447 O, let those cities that of Plenty’s cup
0448 And her prosperities so largely taste,
0449 55 With their superfluous riots, hear these tears.
0450 The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.
Enter a Lord.
LORD 0451 Where’s the Lord Governor?
CLEON 0452 Here.
0453 Speak out thy sorrows, which thee bring’st in haste,
0454 60 For comfort is too far for us to expect.
0455 We have descried upon our neighboring shore
0456 A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
CLEON 0457 I thought as much.
0458 One sorrow never comes but brings an heir
0459 65 That may succeed as his inheritor;
0460 And so in ours. Some neighboring nation,
0461 Taking advantage of our misery,
0462 ⌜Hath⌝ stuffed the hollow vessels with their power
0463 To beat us down, the which are down already,
0464 70 And make a conquest of unhappy ⌜men,⌝
0465 Whereas no glory’s got to overcome.
0466 That’s the least fear, for, by the semblance
0467 Of their white flags displayed, they bring us peace
0468 And come to us as favorers, not as foes.
0469 75 Thou speak’st like him’s untutored to repeat
0470 “Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.”
0471 But bring they what they will and what they can,
0472 What need we ⌜fear?⌝
0473 ⌜The⌝ ground’s the lowest, and we are halfway there.
0474 80 Go tell their general we attend him here,
0475 To know for what he comes and whence he comes
0476 And what he craves.
p. 39LORD 0477 I go, my lord.⌜He exits.⌝
0478 Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist;
0479 85 If wars, we are unable to resist.
Enter Pericles with Attendants.
0480 Lord Governor, for so we hear you are,
0481 Let not our ships and number of our men
0482 Be like a beacon fired t’ amaze your eyes.
0483 We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre
0484 90 And seen the desolation of your streets;
0485 Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears,
0486 But to relieve them of their heavy load;
0487 And these our ships, you happily may think
0488 Are like the Trojan horse was stuffed within
0489 95 With bloody veins expecting overthrow,
0490 Are stored with corn to make your needy bread
0491 And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.
0492 The gods of Greece protect you, and we’ll pray for
PERICLES 0494 100Arise, I pray you, rise.
0495 We do not look for reverence, but for love,
0496 And harborage for ourself, our ships, and men.
CLEON, ⌜rising, with the others⌝
0497 The which when any shall not gratify
0498 Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,
0499 105 Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,
0500 The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils!
0501 Till when—the which I hope shall ne’er be seen—
0502 Your Grace is welcome to our town and us.
0503 Which welcome we’ll accept, feast here awhile,
0504 110 Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.