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Pericles: Act I, Prologue

Act I, Prologue

  1. Enter Gower.


1 - 42
  1. To sing a song that old was sung,
  2. From ashes ancient Gower is come,
  3. Assuming man’s infirmities,
  4. To glad your ear and please your eyes.
  5. It hath been sung at festivals,
  6. On ember-eves and holy-ales;
  7. And lords and ladies in their lives
  8. Have read it for restoratives.
  9. The purchase is to make men glorious,
  10. Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
  11. If you, born in those latter times,
  12. When wit’s more ripe, accept my rhymes,
  13. And that to hear an old man sing
  14. May to your wishes pleasure bring,
  15. I life would wish, and that I might
  16. Waste it for you like taper-light.
  17. This’ Antioch, then; Antiochus the Great
  18. Built up this city for his chiefest seat,
  19. The fairest in all Syria
  20. I tell you what mine authors say.
  21. This king unto him took a peer,
  22. Who died and left a female heir,
  23. So buxom, blithe, and full of face
  24. As heaven had lent her all his grace;
  25. With whom the father liking took,
  26. And her to incest did provoke
  27. Bad child, worse father, to entice his own
  28. To evil should be done by none.
  29. But custom what they did begin
  30. Was with long use account’d no sin.
  31. The beauty of this sinful dame
  32. Made many princes thither frame
  33. To seek her as a bedfellow,
  34. In marriage pleasures playfellow;
  35. Which to prevent he made a law,
  36. To keep her still and men in awe,
  37. That whoso ask’d her for his wife,
  38. His riddle told not, lost his life.
  39. So for her many a wight did die,
  40. As yon grim looks do testify.
  41. Points to the heads of the unsuccessful suitors, displayed
  42. above.
  43. What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
  44. I give my cause, who best can justify.
  1. Exit.
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