Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Modern)
  • Editor: Tom Bishop

  • Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Tom Bishop
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Modern)

    Enter Cleon, the Governor of Tharsus, with 390his wife [Dionyza,] and others.
    My Dionyza, shall we rest us here
    And, by relating tales of others' griefs,
    See if 'twill teach us to forget our own?
    That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it,
    395For who digs hills because they do aspire
    Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.
    O my distressèd lord, even such our griefs are.
    Here they're but felt, and seen with mischief's eyes,
    But like to groves, being topped, they higher rise.
    >Oh, Dionyza,
    Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it,
    Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?
    Our tongues our sorrows utter to sound deep
    Our woes into the air; our eyes do weep
    405Till tongues fetch breath that may proclaim them louder,
    That if heaven slumber while their creatures want,
    They may awake their helps to comfort them.
    I'll then discourse our woes felt several years,
    410And, wanting breath to speak, help me with tears.
    I'll do my best, sir.
    This Tharsus, o'er which I have the government,
    A city o'er whom Plenty held full hand,
    For Riches strewed herself even in her streets,
    415Whose towers bore heads so high they kissed the clouds,
    And strangers ne'er beheld, but wondered at;
    Whose men and dames so jetted and adorned,
    Like one another's glass to trim them by;
    Their tables were stored full to glad the sight,
    420And not so much to feed on as delight.
    All poverty was scorned, and pride so great
    The name of help grew odious to repeat.
    Oh, 'tis too true!
    But see what heaven can do by this our change.
    425These mouths who but of late, earth, sea, and air
    Were all too little to content and please,
    Although they gave their creatures in abundance,
    As houses are defiled for want of use
    They are now starved for want of exercise;
    430Those palates who, not yet two summers younger,
    Must have inventions to delight the taste,
    Would now be glad of bread and beg for it;
    Those mothers who to nuzzle up their babes
    Thought nought too curious, are ready now
    435To eat those little darlings whom they loved;
    So sharp are hunger's teeth that man and wife
    Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life.
    Here stands a lord and there a lady weeping;
    Here many sink, yet those which see them fall
    440Have scarce strength left to give them burial.
    Is not this true?
    Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.
    Oh, let those cities that of plenty's cup
    And her prosperities so largely taste
    445With their superfluous riots, hear these tears:
    The misery of Tharsus may be theirs.
    Enter a Lord.
    Where's the Lord Governor?
    Speak out thy sorrows, which thou bring'st 450in haste,
    For comfort is too far for us to expect.
    We have descried, upon our neighboring shore,
    A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
    I thought as much.
    One sorrow never comes but brings an heir,
    455That may succeed as his inheritor.
    And so in ours: some neighboring nation,
    Taking advantage of our misery,
    Hath stuffed the hollow vessels with their power
    To beat us down, the which are down already,
    460And make a conquest of unhappy me,
    Whereas no glory's got to overcome.
    That's the least fear; for by the semblance
    Of their white flags displayed, they bring us peace,
    And come to us as favorers, not as foes.
    Thou speak'st like him's untutored to repeat:
    Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.
    But bring they what they will and what they can,
    What need we fear?
    Our ground's the lowest, and we are half way there.
    Go, tell their general we 470attend him here
    To know for what he comes and whence he comes,
    And what he craves?
    I go, my lord.
    Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist;
    If wars, we are unable to resist.
    475Enter Pericles with attendants.
    Lord Governor, for so we hear you are,
    Let not our ships and number of our men
    Be like a beacon fired t'amaze your eyes.
    We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre,
    480And seen the desolation of your streets.
    Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears,
    But to relieve them of their heavy load;
    And these our ships, you happily may think
    Are like the Trojan horse was stuffed within
    485With bloody veins expecting overthrow,
    Are stored with corn to make your needy bread,
    And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.
    [All Tarsians]
    [Kneeling] The gods of Greece protect you,
    And we'll pray for you!
    Arise, I pray you, rise.
    [They rise.]
    We do not look for reverence but for love,
    And harborage for our self, our ships, and men.
    The which when any shall not gratify,
    Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,
    Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,
    495The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils.
    Till when -- the which I hope shall ne'er be seen --
    Your Grace is welcome to our town and us.
    Which welcome we'll accept, feast here awhile,
    Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.