Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Tom Bishop
Not Peer Reviewed

Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Quarto)

The Play of Pericles
Prince of Tyre. &c.
Enter Gower.
TO sing a Song that old was sung,
From ashes, auntient Gower is come,
Assuming mans infirmities,
5To glad your eare, and please your eyes:
It hath been sung at Feastiuals,
On Ember eues, and Holydayes:
And Lords and Ladyes in their liues,
Haue red it for restoratiues:
10The purchase is to make men glorious,
Et bonum quo Antiquius eo melius:
If you, borne in those latter times,
When Witts more ripe, accept my rimes;
And that to heare an old man sing,
15May to your Wishes pleasure bring:
I life would wish, and that I might
Waste it for you, like Taper light.
This Antioch, then Antiochus the great,
Buylt vp this Citie, for his chiefest Seat;
20The fayrest in all Syria.
I tell you what mine Authors saye:
This King vnto him tooke a Peere,
Who dyed, and left a female heyre,
So bucksome, blith, and full of face,
25As heauen had lent her all his grace:
With whom the Father liking tooke,
And her to Incest did prouoke:
Bad child, worse father, to intice his owne
To euill, should be done by none:
30But custome what they did begin,
Was with long vse, account'd no sinne;
The beautie of this sinfull Dame,
Made many Princes thither frame,
To seeke her as a bedfellow,
35In maryage pleasures, playfellow:
Which to preuent, he made a Law,
To keepe her still, and men in awe:
That who so askt her for his wife,
His Riddle tould, not lost his life:
40So for her many of wight did die,
As yon grimme lookes do testifie.
What now ensues, to the iudgement of your eye,
I giue my cause, who best can iustifie.