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  • 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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    [Thunder] Enter Pericles wet.
    Yet cease your ire, you angry stars of heaven!
    Wind, rain, and thunder, remember: earthly man
    550Is but a substance that must yield to you,
    And I, as fits my nature, do obey you.
    Alas, the seas hath cast me on the rocks,
    Washed me from shore to shore, and left my breath
    Nothing to think on but ensuing death.
    555Let it suffice the greatness of your powers
    To have bereft a prince of all his fortunes,
    And having thrown him from your watery grave,
    Here to have death in peace is all he'll crave.
    Enter three Fishermen. [They do not see Pericles.]
    5601 Fisherman
    What ho, Pilch!
    2 Fisherman
    Ha! Come and bring away the nets.
    1 Fisherman
    What, Patch-breech, I say!
    3 Fisherman
    What say you, master?
    1 Fisherman
    Look how thou stirr'st now! 565Come away, or I'll fetch thee with a wanion.
    3 Fisherman
    'Faith, master, I am thinking of the poor men, that were cast away before us even now.
    1 Fisherman
    Alas, poor souls, it grieved my heart to hear what pitiful cries they made to us to help them, 570when (welladay!) we could scarce help ourselves.
    3 Fisherman
    Nay master, said not I as much, when I saw the porpoise how he bounced and tumbled? They say they're half fish, half flesh. A plague on them! They ne'er come but I look to be washed. 575Master, I marvel how the fishes live in the sea.
    1 Fisherman
    Why, as men do a-land: the great ones eat up the little ones. I can compare our rich misers to nothing so fitly as to a whale: 'a plays and tumbles, 580driving the poor fry before him, and at last, devours them all at a mouthful. Such whales have I heard on, a'th'land, who never leave gaping, till they swallowed the whole parish: church, steeple, bells and all.
    [Aside] A pretty moral!
    3 Fisherman
    But master, if I had been the sexton, I would have been that day in the belfry.
    2 Fisherman
    Why, man?
    3 Fisherman
    Because he should have swallowed me too, 590and when I had been in his belly I would have kept such a jangling of the bells that he should never have left till he cast bells, steeple, church and parish up again! But if the good King Simonides were of my mind --
    [Aside] Simonides?
    3 Fisherman
    -- we would purge the land of these drones that rob the bee of her honey.
    [Aside] How, from the finny subject of the sea,
    These fishers tell the infirmities of men,
    600And from their watery empire recollect
    All that may men approve, or men detect!
    [He comes forward.]
    Peace be at your labor, honest fishermen.
    2 Fisherman
    Honest, good fellow? What's that? If it be a day fits you, scratch't out of the calendar, and nobody look after it.
    May see the sea hath cast upon your coast --
    2 Fisherman
    What a drunken knave was the sea to cast thee in our way!
    -- A man whom both the waters and the wind,
    In that vast tennis-court, hath made the ball
    610For them to play upon, entreats you pity him.
    He asks of you, that never used to beg.
    1 Fisherman
    No, friend, cannot you beg? Here's them in our country of Greece gets more with begging than we can do with working!
    6152 Fisherman
    Canst thou catch any fishes then?
    I never practiced it.
    2 Fisherman
    Nay then thou wilt starve, sure! For here's nothing to be got nowadays, unless thou canst fish for't.
    What I have been, I have forgot to know;
    620But what I am, want teaches me to think on:
    A man thronged up with cold; my veins are chill
    And have no more of life than may suffice
    To give my tongue that heat to ask your help,
    Which if you shall refuse, when I am dead,
    625For that I am a man, pray see me burièd.
    1 Fisherman
    Die, quoth-a? Now gods forbid't, an I have a gown here! [He gives Pericles a gown.] Come, put it on, keep thee warm! [Pericles puts on the gown.] Now, afore me, a handsome fellow! Come, thou shalt go home, and we'll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days and, moreo'er, 630puddings and flapjacks, and thou shalt be welcome.
    I thank you, sir.
    2 Fisherman
    Hark you my friend: you said you could not beg!
    I did but crave.
    2 Fisherman
    But crave? 635Then I'll turn craver too, and so I shall scape whipping!
    Why, are your beggars whipped then?
    2 Fisherman
    Oh, not all, my friend, not all. For if all your beggars were whipped, I would wish no better office than to be beadle. But master, I'll go draw up the net.
    [Exeunt 2 and 3 Fishermen.]
    [Aside] How well this honest mirth becomes their labor.
    1 Fisherman
    Hark you, sir. Do you know where ye are?
    Not well.
    1 Fisherman
    Why, I'll tell you. This is called Pentapolis, and our king, the good Simonides.
    The good Simonides, do you call him?
    1 Fisherman
    Ay sir, and he deserves so to be called for his peaceable reign and good government.
    He is a happy king, since he gains from his subjects the name of good by his government. 650How far is his court distant from this shore?
    1 Fisherman
    Marry sir, half a day's journey. And I'll tell you: he hath a fair daughter, and tomorrow is her birthday, and there are princes and knights come from all parts of the world, to joust and tourney for her love.
    Were my fortunes equal to my desires, I could wish to make one there.
    1 Fisherman
    Oh, sir, things must be as they may! And what a man can not get, he may lawfully deal for -- for his wife's soul.
    Enter the two [other] fishermen, drawing up a net.
    6602 Fisherman
    Help, master, help! Here's a fish hangs in the net like a poor man's right in the law: 'twill hardly come out! [He pulls a piece of armor from the net.] Ha! Bots on't, 'tis come at last; and 'tis turned to a rusty armor.
    An armor, friends? I pray you, let me see it.
    [He examines the armor.] Thanks, Fortune, yet that after all thy crosses,
    665Thou giv'st me somewhat to repair myself,
    And though it was mine own, part of my heritage
    Which my dead father did bequeath to me
    With this strict charge even as he left his life:
    "Keep it, my Pericles. It hath been a shield
    670'Twixt me and death," and pointed to this brace.
    "For that it saved me, keep it. In like necessity --
    The which the gods protect thee from -- may't defend thee."
    It kept where I kept, I so dearly loved it,
    Till the rough seas, that spares not any man,
    675Took it in rage, though, calmed, have given't again.
    I thank thee for't, my shipwreck now's no ill,
    Since I have here my father gave in his will.
    1 Fisherman
    What mean you, sir?
    To beg of you, kind friends, this coat of worth,
    680For it was sometime target to a king.
    I know it by this mark. [He indicates a detail of the armor.] He loved me, dearly,
    And for his sake I wish the having of it,
    And that you'd guide me to your sovereign's court,
    Where with it I may appear a gentleman.
    685And if that ever my low fortune's better,
    I'll pay your bounties, till then, rest your debtor.
    1 Fisherman
    Why, wilt thou tourney for the lady?
    I'll show the virtue I have borne in arms.
    1 Fisherman
    Why, d'ye take it; and the gods give thee good on't.
    [Pericles begins putting on the armor.]
    6902 Fisherman
    Ay, but hark you, my friend: 'twas we that made up this garment through the rough seams of the waters. There are certain condolements, certain vails; I hope, sir, if you thrive, you'll remember from whence you had them.
    Believe't, I will:
    By your furtherance I am clothed in steel,
    And, spite of all the rapture of the sea,
    This jewel holds his building on my arm.
    Unto thy value I will mount myself
    700Upon a courser, whose delightful steps
    Shall make the gazer joy to see him tread;
    Only, my friend, I yet am unprovided
    Of a pair of bases.
    2 Fisherman
    We'll sure provide. Thou shalt have my best gown to make thee a pair, 705and I'll bring thee to the court myself.
    Then honor be but equal to my will,
    This day I'll rise, or else add ill to ill.