Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Tom Bishop
Not Peer Reviewed

Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Modern)

Enter Helicanus and Escanes.
Helicanus No, Escanes, know this of me:
Antiochus from incest lived not free.
For which the most high gods not minding
To withhold the vengeance that
they had in store,
Due to this heinous
capital offence,
Even in the height and pride
of all his glory,
When he was seated in
a chariot
Of an inestimable value, and his daughter
895with him,
A fire from heaven came and shrivelled
Their bodies even to loathing, for they so stunk
That all those eyes adored them ere their fall
Scorn now their hand should give them burial.
'Twas very strange.
And yet but justice; for though
This king were great,
his greatness was no guard
To bar heaven's shaft,
but sin had his reward.
Escanes 'Tis very true.
[Enter three Lords.]
9051 Lord [Apart, to his fellow Lords] See -- not a man, in private conference
Or council, has respect with him but he!
2 Lord It shall no longer grieve without reproof.
3 Lord And cursed be he that will not second it.
1 Lord Follow me then.[Advancing] Lord Helicane, a word.
910Helicanus With me? And welcome. Happy day, my lords!
1 Lord Know that our griefs are risen to the top,
And now at length they overflow their banks.
Helicanus Your griefs? For what?
Wrong not your prince you love.
9151 Lord Wrong not yourself then, noble Helicane!
But if the prince do live, let us salute him,
Or know what ground's made happy by his breath.
If in the world he live, we'll seek him out;
If in his grave he rest, we'll find him there
920And be resolved he lives to govern us,
Or dead, gives cause to mourn his funeral
And leaves us to our free election.
2 Lord Whose death indeed's the strongest in our censure;
And knowing this kingdom is without a head --
925Like goodly buildings left without a roof
Soon fall to ruin -- your noble self,
That best know how to rule and how to reign,
We thus submit unto, our sovereign.
All [Kneeling] Live, noble Helicane!
930Helicanus Try honor's cause: forbear your suffrages.
If that you love Prince Pericles, forbear.
Take I your wish, I leap into the seas,
Where's hourly trouble for a minute's ease.
A twelve-month longer, let me entreat you
935So to forbear the absence of your king,
If in which time expired he not return,
I shall with agèd patience bear your yoke.
But if I cannot win you to this love,
Go search like nobles, like noble subjects,
940And in your search, spend your adventurous worth,
Whom if you find and win unto return,
You shall like diamonds sit about his crown.
1 Lord To wisdom, he's a fool that will not yield.
And since Lord Helicane enjoineth us,
945We with our travels will endeavor it.
Helicanus Then you love us, we you, and we'll clasp hands:
[They take one another's hands.]
When peers thus knit, a kingdom ever stands.