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The Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 5, scene 1
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Navigate this workThe Two Noble Kinsmen - Act 5, scene 1
Act 5, scene 1
In preparation for the coming confrontation, Arcite and his companion knights pray for victory at the altar of Mars; Palamon and his knights pray to Venus to win the love of Emilia; and Emilia and her women pray to Diana that she might remain a virgin in Diana’s service.Flourish. Enter Theseus, Pirithous, Hippolyta,
⌜and⌝ Attendants. ⌜Three altars set up onstage.⌝
2677 Now let ’em enter and before the gods
2678 Tender their holy prayers. Let the temples
2679 Burn bright with sacred fires, and the altars
2680 In hallowed clouds commend their swelling incense
2681 5 To those above us. Let no due be wanting.
2682 They have a noble work in hand will honor
2683 The very powers that love ’em.
PIRITHOUS 2684 Sir, they enter.
Flourish of cornets. Enter Palamon and Arcite
and their Knights.
2685 You valiant and strong-hearted enemies,
2686 10 You royal german foes, that this day come
2687 To blow that nearness out that flames between you,
2688 Lay by your anger for an hour and, dove-like,
2689 Before the holy altars of your helpers,
2690 The all-feared gods, bow down your stubborn
2691 15 bodies.
2692 Your ire is more than mortal; so your help be.
2693 And as the gods regard you, fight with justice.
p. 2012694 I’ll leave you to your prayers, and betwixt you
2695 I part my wishes.
PIRITHOUS 2696 20 Honor crown the worthiest!
Theseus and his train exit.
2697 The glass is running now that cannot finish
2698 Till one of us expire. Think you but thus,
2699 That were there aught in me which strove to show
2700 Mine enemy in this business, were ’t one eye
2701 25 Against another, arm oppressed by arm,
2702 I would destroy th’ offender, coz—I would
2703 Though parcel of myself. Then from this gather
2704 How I should tender you.
ARCITE 2705 I am in labor
2706 30 To push your name, your ancient love, our kindred
2707 Out of my memory, and i’ th’ selfsame place
2708 To seat something I would confound. So hoist we
2709 The sails that must these vessels port even where
2710 The heavenly Limiter pleases.
PALAMON 2711 35 You speak well.
2712 Before I turn, let me embrace thee, cousin.
2713 This I shall never do again.
ARCITE 2714 One farewell.
2715 Why, let it be so. Farewell, coz.
ARCITE 2716 40 Farewell, sir.
Palamon and his Knights exit.
2717 Knights, kinsmen, lovers, yea, my sacrifices,
2718 True worshippers of Mars, whose spirit in you
2719 Expels the seeds of fear and th’ apprehension
2720 Which still is ⌜father of⌝ it, go with me
2721 45 Before the god of our profession. There
2722 Require of him the hearts of lions and
2723 The breath of tigers, yea, the fierceness too,
2724 Yea, the speed also—to go on, I mean;
p. 2032725 Else wish we to be snails. You know my prize
2726 50 Must be dragged out of blood; force and great feat
2727 Must put my garland on, where she sticks,
2728 The queen of flowers. Our intercession, then,
2729 Must be to him that makes the camp a cistern
2730 Brimmed with the blood of men. Give me your aid,
2731 55 And bend your spirits towards him.
They ⌜go to Mars’s altar, fall on
their faces before it, and then⌝ kneel.
2732 Thou mighty one, that with thy power hast turned
2733 Green Neptune into purple, ⌜whose approach⌝
2734 Comets prewarn, whose havoc in vast field
2735 Unearthèd skulls proclaim, whose breath blows
2736 60 down
2737 The teeming Ceres’ foison, who dost pluck
2738 With hand armipotent from forth blue clouds
2739 The masoned turrets, that both mak’st and break’st
2740 The stony girths of cities; me thy pupil,
2741 65 Youngest follower of thy drum, instruct this day
2742 With military skill, that to thy laud
2743 I may advance my streamer, and by thee
2744 Be styled the lord o’ th’ day. Give me, great Mars,
2745 Some token of thy pleasure.
Here they fall on their faces as formerly, and
there is heard clanging of armor, with a short
thunder, as the burst of a battle, whereupon
they all rise and bow to the altar.
2746 70 O, great corrector of enormous times,
2747 Shaker of o’er-rank states, thou grand decider
2748 Of dusty and old titles, that heal’st with blood
2749 The Earth when it is sick, and ⌜cur’st⌝ the world
2750 O’ th’ pleurisy of people, I do take
2751 75 Thy signs auspiciously, and in thy name
2752 To my design march boldly.—Let us go.They exit.
p. 205Enter Palamon and his Knights,
with the former observance.
2753 Our stars must glister with new fire, or be
2754 Today extinct. Our argument is love,
2755 Which, if the goddess of it grant, she gives
2756 80 Victory too. Then blend your spirits with mine,
2757 You whose free nobleness do make my cause
2758 Your personal hazard. To the goddess Venus
2759 Commend we our proceeding, and implore
2760 Her power unto our party.
Here they ⌜go to Venus’s altar, fall on
their faces before it, and then⌝ kneel.
2761 85 Hail, sovereign queen of secrets, who hast power
2762 To call the fiercest tyrant from his rage
2763 And weep unto a girl; that hast the might
2764 Even with an eye-glance to choke Mars’s drum
2765 And turn th’ alarm to whispers; that canst make
2766 90 A cripple flourish with his crutch, and cure him
2767 Before Apollo; that mayst force the king
2768 To be his subject’s vassal, and induce
2769 Stale gravity to dance. The polled bachelor,
2770 Whose youth, like wanton boys through bonfires,
2771 95 Have skipped thy flame, at seventy thou canst catch,
2772 And make him, to the scorn of his hoarse throat,
2773 Abuse young lays of love. What godlike power
2774 Hast thou not power upon? To Phoebus thou
2775 Add’st flames hotter than his; the heavenly fires
2776 100 Did scorch his mortal son, thine him. The huntress,
2777 All moist and cold, some say, began to throw
2778 Her bow away and sigh. Take to thy grace
2779 Me, thy vowed soldier, who do bear thy yoke
2780 As ’twere a wreath of roses, yet is heavier
2781 105 Than lead itself, stings more than nettles.
2782 I have never been foul-mouthed against thy law,
p. 2072783 Ne’er revealed secret, for I knew none—would not,
2784 Had I kenned all that were. I never practiced
2785 Upon man’s wife, nor would the libels read
2786 110 Of liberal wits. I never at great feasts
2787 Sought to betray a beauty, but have blushed
2788 At simp’ring sirs that did. I have been harsh
2789 To large confessors, and have hotly asked them
2790 If they had mothers—I had one, a woman,
2791 115 And women ’twere they wronged. I knew a man
2792 Of eighty winters—this I told them—who
2793 A lass of fourteen brided; ’twas thy power
2794 To put life into dust. The agèd cramp
2795 Had screwed his square foot round;
2796 120 The gout had knit his fingers into knots;
2797 Torturing convulsions from his globy eyes
2798 Had almost drawn their spheres, that what was life
2799 In him seemed torture. This anatomy
2800 Had by his young fair fere a boy, and I
2801 125 Believed it was his, for she swore it was,
2802 And who would not believe her? Brief, I am
2803 To those that prate and have done, no companion;
2804 To those that boast and have not, a defier;
2805 To those that would and cannot, a rejoicer.
2806 130 Yea, him I do not love that tells close offices
2807 The foulest way, nor names concealments in
2808 The boldest language. Such a one I am,
2809 And vow that lover never yet made sigh
2810 Truer than I. O, then, most soft sweet goddess,
2811 135 Give me the victory of this question, which
2812 Is true love’s merit, and bless me with a sign
2813 Of thy great pleasure.
Here music is heard; doves are
seen to flutter. They fall again upon
their faces, then on their knees.
2814 O thou that from eleven to ninety reign’st
2815 In mortal bosoms, whose chase is this world
p. 2092816 140 And we in herds thy game, I give thee thanks
2817 For this fair token, which being laid unto
2818 Mine innocent true heart, arms in assurance
2819 My body to this business.—Let us rise
2820 And bow before the goddess.They ⌜rise and⌝ bow.
2821 145 Time comes on.
Still music of ⌜recorders.⌝ Enter Emilia in white, her
hair about her shoulders, ⌜wearing⌝ a wheaten wreath;
one in white holding up her train, her hair stuck with
flowers; one before her carrying a silver hind, in which
is conveyed incense and sweet odors, which being
set upon the altar ⌜of Diana,⌝ her maids standing
aloof, she sets fire to it. Then they curtsy and kneel.
2822 O sacred, shadowy, cold, and constant queen,
2823 Abandoner of revels, mute contemplative,
2824 Sweet, solitary, white as chaste, and pure
2825 As wind-fanned snow, who to thy female knights
2826 150 Allow’st no more blood than will make a blush,
2827 Which is their order’s robe, I here, thy priest,
2828 Am humbled ’fore thine altar. O, vouchsafe
2829 With that thy rare green eye, which never yet
2830 Beheld thing maculate, look on thy virgin,
2831 155 And, sacred silver mistress, lend thine ear—
2832 Which ne’er heard scurrile term, into whose port
2833 Ne’er entered wanton sound—to my petition,
2834 Seasoned with holy fear. This is my last
2835 Of vestal office. I am bride-habited
2836 160 But maiden-hearted. A husband I have ’pointed,
2837 But do not know him. Out of two I should
2838 Choose one, and pray for his success, but I
2839 Am guiltless of election. Of mine eyes,
2840 Were I to lose one—they are equal precious—
2841 165 I could doom neither; that which perished should
p. 2112842 Go to ’t unsentenced. Therefore, most modest queen,
2843 He of the two pretenders that best loves me
2844 And has the truest title in ’t, let him
2845 Take off my wheaten garland, or else grant
2846 170 The file and quality I hold I may
2847 Continue in thy band.
Here the hind vanishes under the
altar, and in the place ascends a rose
tree, having one rose upon it.
2848 See what our general of ebbs and flows
2849 Out from the bowels of her holy altar
2850 With sacred act advances: but one rose.
2851 175 If well inspired, this battle shall confound
2852 Both these brave knights, and I, a virgin flower,
2853 Must grow alone unplucked.
Here is heard a sudden twang of instruments,
and the rose falls from the tree.
2854 The flower is fall’n, the tree descends. O mistress,
2855 Thou here dischargest me. I shall be gathered;
2856 180 I think so, but I know not thine own will.
2857 Unclasp thy mystery!—I hope she’s pleased;
2858 Her signs were gracious.
They curtsy and exit.