Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: William Shakespeare
Editor: Jennifer Forsyth
Peer Reviewed

Cymbeline (Modern)


Enter Belarius [as Morgan], Guiderius [as Polydore], and Arviragus [as Cadwal]
1555Belarius A goodly day not to keep house with such
Whose roof's as low as ours. Stoop, boys; this gate
Instructs you how t'adore the heavens and bows you
To a morning's holy office. The gates of monarchs
Are arched so high that giants may jet through
1560And keep their impious turbans on without
Good morrow to the sun. Hail thou, fair Heaven:
We house i'th' rock yet use thee not so hardly
As prouder livers do.
Hail, Heaven.
Hail, Heaven.
Belarius Now for our mountain sport: up to yond hill;
Your legs are young; I'll tread these flats. Consider,
When you above perceive me like a crow,
That it is place which lessens and sets off,
1570And you may then revolve what tales I have told you
Of courts, of princes, of the tricks in war.
This service is not service so being done,
But being so allowed. To apprehend thus
Draws us a profit from all things we see,
1575And often to our comfort shall we find
The sharded beetle in a safer hold
Than is the full-winged eagle. Oh, this life
Is nobler than attending for a check,
Richer than doing nothing for a babe,
1580Prouder than rustling in unpaid-for silk:
Such gain the cap of him that makes him fine
Yet keeps his book uncrossed. No life to ours!
Guiderius Out of your proof you speak; we poor unfledged
Have never winged from view o'th' nest, nor knows not
1585What air's from home. Haply this life is best
(If quiet life be best), sweeter to you
That have a sharper known, well corresponding
With your stiff age; but unto us it is
A cell of ignorance, travailing abed,
1590A prison for a debtor that not dares
To stride a limit.
What should we speak of
When we are old as you, when we shall hear
The rain and wind beat dark December? How
1595In this our pinching cave shall we discourse
The freezing hours away? We have seen nothing;
We are beastly: subtle as the fox for prey,
Like warlike as the wolf for what we eat.
Our valor is to chase what flies; our cage
1600We make a choir as doth the prisoned bird,
And sing our bondage freely.
How you speak!
Did you but know the city's usuries
And felt them knowingly: the art o'th' court,
1605As hard to leave as keep, whose top to climb
Is certain falling, or so slippery that
The fear's as bad as falling; the toil o'th' war,
A pain that only seems to seek out danger
I'th' name of fame and honor which dies i'th' search,
1610And hath as oft a sland'rous epitaph
As record of fair act -- nay, many times
Doth ill deserve by doing well; what's worse,
Must curtsey at the censure. O boys, this story
The world may read in me: my body's marked
1615With Roman swords, and my report was once
First, with the best of note. Cymbeline loved me,
And when a soldier was the theme, my name
Was not far off: then was I as a tree
Whose boughs did bend with fruit. But in one night,
1620A storm or robbery, call it what you will,
Shook down my mellow hangings -- nay, my leaves --
And left me bare to weather.
Uncertain favor.
Belarius My fault being nothing, as I have told you oft,
1625But that two villains, whose false oaths prevailed
Before my perfect honor, swore to Cymbeline
I was confederate with the Romans. So
Followed my banishment, and this twenty years
This rock and these demesnes have been my world,
1630Where I have lived at honest freedom, paid
More pious debts to Heaven than in all
The fore-end of my time. But up to th' mountains!
This is not hunters' language. He that strikes
The venison first shall be the Lord o'th' Feast;
1635To him the other two shall minister,
And we will fear no poison, which attends
In place of greater state.
I'll meet you in the valleys.
Exeunt [Guiderius and Arviragus]
How hard it is to hide the sparks of Nature!
1640These boys know little they are sons to th' King,
Nor Cymbeline dreams that they are alive.
They think they are mine, and though trained up thus meanly
I'th' cave, wherein the bow their thoughts do hit
1645The roofs of palaces, and Nature prompts them
In simple and low things to prince it much
Beyond the trick of others. This Polydore,
The heir of Cymbeline and Britain, who
The King his father called Guiderius. Jove!
1650When on my three-foot stool I sit and tell
The warlike feats I have done, his spirits fly out
Into my story: say, "Thus mine enemy fell,
And thus I set my foot on's neck," even then
The princely blood flows in his cheek, he sweats,
1655Strains his young nerves, and puts himself in posture
That acts my words. The younger brother, Cadwal,
Once Arviragus, in as like a figure
Strikes life into my speech and shows much more
His own conceiving. Hark, the game is roused!
1660O Cymbeline, Heaven and my conscience knows
Thou didst unjustly banish me, whereon
At three and two years old I stole these babes,
Thinking to bar thee of succession as
Thou reftst me of my lands. Euriphile,
1665Thou wast their nurse; they took thee for their mother,
And every day do honor to her grave.
Myself Belarius, that am Morgan called,
They take for natural father. The game is up.