Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Tom Bishop
Not Peer Reviewed

Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Modern)

Enter Pericles with his Lords.
Let none disturb us.
Why should this change of thoughts,
225The sad companion, dull-eyed melancholy,
Be my so used a guest, as not an hour
In the day's glorious walk or peaceful night,
The tomb where grief should sleep, can breed me quiet?
Here pleasures court mine eyes and mine eyes shun them,
230And danger which I feared is at Antioch,
Whose arm seems far too short to hit me here.
Yet neither pleasure's art can joy my spirits
Nor yet the other's distance comfort me.
Then it is thus: the passions of the mind,
235That have their first conception by misdread,
Have after-nourishment and life by care,
And what was first but fear what might be done
Grows elder now, and cares it be not done.
And so with me: the great Antiochus --
240'Gainst whom I am too little to contend,
Since he's so great, can make his will his act --
Will think me speaking, though I swear to silence;
Nor boots it me to say I honor him
If he suspect I may dishonor him.
245And what may make him blush in being known,
He'll stop the course by which it might be known.
With hostile forces he'll o'er-spread the land,
And with th'ostent of war will look so huge
Amazement shall drive courage from the state,
250Our men be vanquished ere they do resist,
And subjects punished that ne'er thought offence;
Which care of them, not pity of myself --
Who am no more but as the tops of trees,
Which fence the roots they grow by and defend them --
255Makes both my body pine and soul to languish,
And punish that before that he would punish.
Enter all the Lords to Pericles.
1 Lord Joy and all comfort in your sacred breast!
2 Lord And keep your mind 260peaceful and comfortable.
Helicanus Peace! Peace, and give experience tongue!
They do abuse the king that flatter him,
For flattery is the bellows blows up sin,
The thing the which is flattered but a spark
265To which that breath gives heat and stronger glowing,
Whereas reproof, obedient and in order,
Fits kings as they are men, for they may err.
When Signor Soothe here does proclaim peace,
He flatters you, makes war upon your life.
270Prince, pardon me, or strike me, if you please,
I cannot be much lower than my knees.
[Helicanus kneels.]
Pericles All leave us else; but let your cares o'er-look
What shipping and what lading's in our haven,
And then return to us.
Helicanus, thou
275Hast movèd us. What see'st thou in our looks?
Helicanus An angry brow, dread lord.
Pericles If there be such a dart in princes' frowns,
How durst thy tongue move anger to our face?
Helicanus How dares the plants look up to heaven 280from whence
They have their nourishment?
Pericles Thou know'st I have power to take thy life from thee.
Helicanus I have ground the axe myself; do but you strike the blow.
Pericles Rise, prithee rise. [Helicanus rises.] Sit down. Thou art no flatterer;
285I thank thee for't; and heaven forbid
That kings should let their ears hear their faults hid.
Fit counselor, and servant for a prince,
Who by thy wisdom makes a prince thy servant,
What wouldst thou have me do?
To bear with patience
Such griefs as you do lay upon yourself.
Pericles Thou speak'st like a physician, Helicanus,
That ministers a potion unto me
That thou wouldst tremble to receive thyself.
295Attend me then: I went to Antioch,
Where, as thou know'st, against the face of death
I sought the purchase of a glorious beauty,
From whence an issue I might propagate,
Are arms to princes and bring joys to subjects.
300Her face was to mine eye beyond all wonder,
The rest, hark in thine ear, as black as incest.
Which by my knowledge found, the sinful father
Seemed not to strike, but smooth. But thou know'st this:
'Tis time to fear when tyrants seems to kiss.
305Which fear so grew in me I hither fled,
Under the covering of a careful night,
Who seemed my good protector, and, being here,
Bethought me what was past, what might succeed.
I knew him tyrannous, and tyrants' fears
310Decrease not, but grow faster than the years.
And should he doubt, as doubt no doubt he doth,
That I should open to the listening air
How many worthy princes' bloods were shed
To keep his bed of blackness unlaid-ope,
315To lop that doubt, he'll fill this land with arms,
And make pretence of wrong that I have done him,
When all, for mine -- if I may call -- offence,
Must feel war's blow, who spares not innocence.
Which love to all, of which thyself art one
320Who now reproved'st me for't --
Alas, sir.
Pericles Drew sleep out of mine eyes, blood from my cheeks,
Musings into my mind, with thousand doubts
How I might stop this tempest ere it came.
325And finding little comfort to relieve them
I thought it princely charity to grieve for them.
Helicanus Well, my lord, since you have given me leave to speak,
Freely will I speak. Antiochus you fear,
And justly too, I think, you fear the tyrant,
330Who either by public war, or private treason
Will take away your life.
Therefore, my lord, go travel for a while,
Till that his rage and anger be forgot,
Or till the Destinies do cut his thread of life./
Your rule direct to any; if to me,
Day serves not light more faithful than I'll be.
335Pericles I do not doubt thy faith.
But should he wrong my liberties in my absence?
Helicanus We'll mingle our bloods together in the earth,
From whence we had our being and our birth.
Pericles Tyre, I now look from thee then, and to Tharsus
340Intend my travel, where I'll hear from thee,
And by whose letters I'll dispose myself.
The care I had, and have, of subjects' good
On thee I lay, whose wisdom's strength can bear it.
I'll take thy word for faith, not ask thine oath:
345Who shuns not to break one, will crack them both.
But in our orbs we'll live so round and safe
That time of both this truth shall ne'er convince:
Thou showed'st a subject's shine, I a true prince'.