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The Two Noble Kinsmen
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Navigate this workThe Two Noble Kinsmen
Act 2, scene 2
Palamon and Arcite, after lamenting their prospect of lifelong imprisonment, rejoice that they are imprisoned together where nothing can ever come between them. Through the prison window Palamon sees Emilia below in a garden, immediately falls in love with her, and announces his love to Arcite. When the same fate befalls Arcite, the two cousins become bitter rivals. Arcite is then freed and banished from the kingdom while Palamon is moved to a cell without a view of the garden.Palamon and Arcite ⌜remain, above.⌝
0688 How do you, noble cousin?
ARCITE 0689 How do you, sir?
0690 Why, strong enough to laugh at misery
0691 And bear the chance of war; yet we are prisoners
0692 5 I fear forever, cousin.
ARCITE 0693 I believe it,
0694 And to that destiny have patiently
0695 Laid up my hour to come.
PALAMON 0696 O, cousin Arcite,
0697 10 Where is Thebes now? Where is our noble country?
0698 Where are our friends and kindreds? Never more
0699 Must we behold those comforts, never see
0700 The hardy youths strive for the games of honor,
0701 Hung with the painted favors of their ladies,
0702 15 Like tall ships under sail; then start amongst ’em
0703 And as an east wind leave ’em all behind us,
0704 Like lazy clouds, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
0705 Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
0706 Outstripped the people’s praises, won the garlands
0707 20 Ere they have time to wish ’em ours. O, never
0708 Shall we two exercise, like twins of honor,
0709 Our arms again, and feel our fiery horses
p. 590710 Like proud seas under us. Our good swords now—
0711 Better the red-eyed god of war ne’er ⌜wore⌝—
0712 25 Ravished our sides, like age must run to rust
0713 And deck the temples of those gods that hate us;
0714 These hands shall never draw ’em out like lightning
0715 To blast whole armies more.
ARCITE 0716 No, Palamon,
0717 30 Those hopes are prisoners with us. Here we are
0718 And here the graces of our youths must wither
0719 Like a too-timely spring. Here age must find us
0720 And—which is heaviest, Palamon—unmarried.
0721 The sweet embraces of a loving wife,
0722 35 Loaden with kisses, armed with thousand Cupids,
0723 Shall never clasp our necks; no issue know us—
0724 No figures of ourselves shall we e’er see,
0725 To glad our age, and like young eagles teach ’em
0726 Boldly to gaze against bright arms and say
0727 40 “Remember what your fathers were, and conquer!”
0728 The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments
0729 And in their songs curse ever-blinded Fortune
0730 Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
0731 To youth and nature. This is all our world.
0732 45 We shall know nothing here but one another,
0733 Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes.
0734 The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it;
0735 Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
0736 But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.
0737 50 ’Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds
0738 That shook the agèd forest with their echoes
0739 No more now must we halloo; no more shake
0740 Our pointed javelins whilst the angry swine
0741 Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages,
0742 55 Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses,
0743 The food and nourishment of noble minds,
0744 In us two here shall perish; we shall die,
p. 610745 Which is the curse of honor, lastly,
0746 Children of grief and ignorance.
ARCITE 0747 60 Yet, cousin,
0748 Even from the bottom of these miseries,
0749 From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
0750 I see two comforts rising, two mere blessings,
0751 If the gods please: to hold here a brave patience,
0752 65 And the enjoying of our griefs together.
0753 Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
0754 If I think this our prison!
PALAMON 0755 Certainly
0756 ’Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
0757 70 Were twined together. ’Tis most true, two souls
0758 Put in two noble bodies, let ’em suffer
0759 The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
0760 Will never sink; they must not, say they could.
0761 A willing man dies sleeping and all’s done.
0762 75 Shall we make worthy uses of this place
0763 That all men hate so much?
PALAMON 0764 How, gentle cousin?
0765 Let’s think this prison holy sanctuary
0766 To keep us from corruption of worse men.
0767 80 We are young and yet desire the ways of honor
0768 That liberty and common conversation,
0769 The poison of pure spirits, might like women
0770 Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing
0771 Can be but our imaginations
0772 85 May make it ours? And here being thus together,
0773 We are an endless mine to one another;
0774 We are one another’s wife, ever begetting
0775 New births of love; we are father, friends,
0777 90 We are, in one another, families;
0778 I am your heir, and you are mine. This place
p. 630779 Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor
0780 Dare take this from us; here with a little patience
0781 We shall live long and loving. No surfeits seek us;
0782 95 The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas
0783 Swallow their youth. Were we at liberty,
0784 A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
0785 Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men
0786 Crave our acquaintance. I might sicken, cousin,
0787 100 Where you should never know it, and so perish
0788 Without your noble hand to close mine eyes,
0789 Or prayers to the gods. A thousand chances,
0790 Were we from hence, would sever us.
PALAMON 0791 You have made
0792 105 me—
0793 I thank you, cousin Arcite—almost wanton
0794 With my captivity. What a misery
0795 It is to live abroad and everywhere!
0796 ’Tis like a beast, methinks. I find the court here,
0797 110 I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures
0798 That woo the wills of men to vanity
0799 I see through now, and am sufficient
0800 To tell the world ’tis but a gaudy shadow
0801 That old Time as he passes by takes with him.
0802 115 What had we been, old in the court of Creon,
0803 Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
0804 The virtues of the great ones? Cousin Arcite,
0805 Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
0806 We had died as they do, ill old men, unwept,
0807 120 And had their epitaphs, the people’s curses.
0808 Shall I say more?
ARCITE 0809 I would hear you still.
PALAMON 0810 You shall.
0811 Is there record of any two that loved
0812 125 Better than we do, Arcite?
ARCITE 0813 Sure there cannot.
0814 I do not think it possible our friendship
0815 Should ever leave us.
ARCITE 0816 Till our deaths it cannot.
Enter Emilia and her Woman, ⌜below.⌝
0817 130 And after death our spirits shall be led
0818 To those that love eternally.⌜Palamon catches sight
0819 Speak on, sir.
⌜EMILIA, to her Woman⌝
0820 This garden has a world of pleasures in ’t.
0821 What flower is this?
WOMAN 0822 135 ’Tis called narcissus, madam.
0823 That was a fair boy certain, but a fool
0824 To love himself. Were there not maids enough?
ARCITE, ⌜to Palamon, who is stunned by the sight of Emilia⌝
0825 Pray, forward.
PALAMON 0826 Yes.
EMILIA, ⌜to Woman⌝ 0827 140 Or were they all hard-hearted?
0828 They could not be to one so fair.
EMILIA 0829 Thou wouldst not.
0830 I think I should not, madam.
EMILIA 0831 That’s a good wench.
0832 145 But take heed to your kindness, though.
WOMAN 0833 Why,
0835 Men are mad things.
ARCITE, ⌜to Palamon⌝ 0836 Will you go forward,
0837 150 cousin?
EMILIA, ⌜to Woman⌝
0838 Canst not thou work such flowers in silk, wench?
WOMAN 0839 Yes.
0840 I’ll have a gown full of ’em, and of these.
0841 This is pretty color. Will ’t not do
0842 155 Rarely upon a skirt, wench?
WOMAN 0843 Dainty, madam.
ARCITE, ⌜to Palamon⌝
0844 Cousin, cousin! How do you, sir? Why, Palamon!
0845 Never till now I was in prison, Arcite.
0846 Why, what’s the matter, man?
PALAMON 0847 160 Behold, and wonder!
0848 By heaven, she is a goddess.
ARCITE, ⌜seeing Emilia⌝ 0849 Ha!
PALAMON 0850 Do reverence.
0851 She is a goddess, Arcite.
EMILIA, ⌜to Woman⌝ 0852 165 Of all flowers
0853 Methinks a rose is best.
WOMAN 0854 Why, gentle madam?
0855 It is the very emblem of a maid.
0856 For when the west wind courts her gently,
0857 170 How modestly she blows and paints the sun
0858 With her chaste blushes! When the north comes
0859 near her,
0860 Rude and impatient, then, like chastity,
0861 She locks her beauties in her bud again,
0862 175 And leaves him to base briers.
WOMAN 0863 Yet, good madam,
0864 Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
0865 She falls for ’t. A maid,
0866 If she have any honor, would be loath
0867 180 To take example by her.
EMILIA 0868 Thou art wanton!
ARCITE, ⌜to Palamon⌝
0869 She is wondrous fair.
p. 69PALAMON 0870 She is all the beauty extant.
EMILIA, ⌜to Woman⌝
0871 The sun grows high. Let’s walk in. Keep these
0872 185 flowers.
0873 We’ll see how near art can come near their colors.
0874 I am wondrous merry-hearted. I could laugh now.
0875 I could lie down, I am sure.
EMILIA 0876 And take one with you?
0877 190 That’s as we bargain, madam.
EMILIA 0878 Well, agree then.
Emilia and Woman exit.
0879 What think you of this beauty?
ARCITE 0880 ’Tis a rare one.
0881 Is ’t but a rare one?
ARCITE 0882 195 Yes, a matchless beauty.
0883 Might not a man well lose himself and love her?
0884 I cannot tell what you have done; I have,
0885 Beshrew mine eyes for ’t! Now I feel my shackles.
0886 You love her, then?
ARCITE 0887 200 Who would not?
PALAMON 0888 And desire her?
0889 Before my liberty.
PALAMON 0890 I saw her first.
0891 That’s nothing.
PALAMON 0892 205 But it shall be.
ARCITE 0893 I saw her, too.
PALAMON 0894 Yes, but you must not love her.
0895 I will not, as you do, to worship her
0896 As she is heavenly and a blessèd goddess.
0897 210 I love her as a woman, to enjoy her.
0898 So both may love.
PALAMON 0899 You shall not love at all.
ARCITE 0900 Not love at all! Who shall deny me?
0901 I, that first saw her; I that took possession
0902 215 First with mine eye of all those beauties
0903 In her revealed to mankind. If thou lov’st her,
0904 Or entertain’st a hope to blast my wishes,
0905 Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
0906 False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
0907 220 And all the ties between us I disclaim
0908 If thou once think upon her.
ARCITE 0909 Yes, I love her,
0910 And, if the lives of all my name lay on it,
0911 I must do so. I love her with my soul.
0912 225 If that will lose you, farewell, Palamon.
0913 I say again, I love, and in loving her maintain
0914 I am as worthy and as free a lover
0915 And have as just a title to her beauty
0916 As any Palamon or any living
0917 230 That is a man’s son.
PALAMON 0918 Have I called thee friend?
0919 Yes, and have found me so. Why are you moved
0921 Let me deal coldly with you: am not I
0922 235 Part of ⌜your⌝ blood, part of your soul? You have
0923 told me
0924 That I was Palamon and you were Arcite.
p. 73ARCITE 0926 Am not I liable to those affections,
0927 240 Those joys, griefs, angers, fears, my friend shall
0929 You may be.
ARCITE 0930 Why then would you deal so cunningly,
0931 So strangely, so unlike a noble kinsman,
0932 245 To love alone? Speak truly, do you think me
0933 Unworthy of her sight?
PALAMON 0934 No, but unjust
0935 If thou pursue that sight.
ARCITE 0936 Because another
0937 250 First sees the enemy, shall I stand still
0938 And let mine honor down, and never charge?
0939 Yes, if he be but one.
ARCITE 0940 But say that one
0941 Had rather combat me?
PALAMON 0942 255 Let that one say so,
0943 And use thy freedom. Else, if thou pursuest her,
0944 Be as that cursèd man that hates his country,
0945 A branded villain.
ARCITE 0946 You are mad.
PALAMON 0947 260 I must be.
0948 Till thou art worthy, Arcite, it concerns me.
0949 And in this madness if I hazard thee
0950 And take thy life, I deal but truly.
ARCITE 0951 Fie, sir!
0952 265 You play the child extremely. I will love her;
0953 I must, I ought to do so, and I dare,
0954 And all this justly.
PALAMON 0955 O, that now, that now,
0956 Thy false self and thy friend had but this fortune
0957 270 To be one hour at liberty, and grasp
0958 Our good swords in our hands, I would quickly
0959 teach thee
p. 750960 What ’twere to filch affection from another.
0961 Thou art baser in it than a cutpurse.
0962 275 Put but thy head out of this window more
0963 And, as I have a soul, I’ll nail thy life to ’t.
0964 Thou dar’st not, fool; thou canst not; thou art feeble.
0965 Put my head out? I’ll throw my body out
0966 And leap the garden when I see her next,
0967 280 And pitch between her arms to anger thee.
Enter ⌜Jailer, above.⌝
0968 No more; the keeper’s coming. I shall live
0969 To knock thy brains out with my shackles.
ARCITE 0970 Do!
0971 By your leave, gentlemen.
PALAMON 0972 285 Now, honest keeper?
0973 Lord Arcite, you must presently to th’ Duke;
0974 The cause I know not yet.
ARCITE 0975 I am ready, keeper.
0976 Prince Palamon, I must awhile bereave you
0977 290 Of your fair cousin’s company.
Arcite and Jailer exit.
PALAMON 0978 And me too,
0979 Even when you please, of life.—Why is he sent for?
0980 It may be he shall marry her; he’s goodly,
0981 And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
0982 295 Both of his blood and body. But his falsehood!
0983 Why should a friend be treacherous? If that
0984 Get him a wife so noble and so fair,
0985 Let honest men ne’er love again. Once more
0986 I would but see this fair one. Blessèd garden
p. 770987 300 And fruit and flowers more blessèd that still
0989 As her bright eyes shine on you, would I were,
0990 For all the fortune of my life hereafter,
0991 Yon little tree, yon blooming apricock!
0992 305 How I would spread and fling my wanton arms
0993 In at her window; I would bring her fruit
0994 Fit for the gods to feed on; youth and pleasure
0995 Still as she tasted should be doubled on her;
0996 And, if she be not heavenly, I would make her
0997 310 So near the gods in nature, they should fear her.
Enter ⌜Jailer, above.⌝
0998 And then I am sure she would love me.—How now,
1000 Where’s Arcite?
JAILER 1001 Banished. Prince Pirithous
1002 315 Obtained his liberty, but never more
1003 Upon his oath and life must he set foot
1004 Upon this kingdom.
PALAMON 1005 He’s a blessèd man.
1006 He shall see Thebes again, and call to arms
1007 320 The bold young men that, when he bids ’em charge,
1008 Fall on like fire. Arcite shall have a fortune,
1009 If he dare make himself a worthy lover,
1010 Yet in the field to strike a battle for her,
1011 And, if he lose her then, he’s a cold coward.
1012 325 How bravely may he bear himself to win her
1013 If he be noble Arcite—thousand ways!
1014 Were I at liberty, I would do things
1015 Of such a virtuous greatness that this lady,
1016 This blushing virgin, should take manhood to her
1017 330 And seek to ravish me.
JAILER 1018 My lord, for you
1019 I have this charge to—
PALAMON 1020 To discharge my life?
1021 No, but from this place to remove your Lordship;
1022 335 The windows are too open.
PALAMON 1023 Devils take ’em
1024 That are so envious to me! Prithee, kill me.
1025 And hang for ’t afterward!
PALAMON 1026 By this good light,
1027 340 Had I a sword I would kill thee.
JAILER 1028 Why, my lord?
1029 Thou bringst such pelting, scurvy news continually,
1030 Thou art not worthy life. I will not go.
1031 Indeed ⌜you⌝ must, my lord.
PALAMON 1032 345 May I see the garden?
PALAMON 1034 Then I am resolved, I will not go.
1035 I must constrain you then; and, for you are
1037 350 I’ll clap more irons on you.
PALAMON 1038 Do, good keeper.
1039 I’ll shake ’em so, you shall not sleep;
1040 I’ll make you a new morris. Must I go?
1041 There is no remedy.
PALAMON 1042 355 Farewell, kind window.
1043 May rude wind never hurt thee. O, my lady,
1044 If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was,
1045 Dream how I suffer.—Come; now bury me.
Palamon and Jailer exit.