The Two Noble Kinsmen
Act I, Scene 1
Athens. Before a temple.
- Enter Hymen with a torch burning; a Boy, in a white robe,
- before, singing and strewing flow’rs; after Hymen, a Nymph,
- encompass’d in her tresses, bearing a wheaten garland; then
- Theseus, between two other Nymphs with wheaten chaplets an
- their heads; then Hippolyta, the bride, led by Pirithous,
- and another holding a garland over her head (her tresses
- likewise hanging; after her, Emilia, holding up her train;
- Artesius and Attendants.
Boy1 - 24
- Music. The Song by the Boy.
- Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
- Not royal in their smells alone,
- But in their hue;
- Maiden pinks, of odor faint,
- Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,
- And sweet thyme true;
- Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
- Merry spring-time’s harbinger,
- With her bells dim;
- Oxlips in their cradles growing,
- Marigolds on death-beds blowing,
- Larks’-heels trim;
- All dear Nature’s children sweet,
- Lie ’fore bride and bridegroom’s feet.
- Strew flowers.
- Blessing their sense;
- Not an angel of the air,
- Bird melodious, or bird fair,
- Is absent hence.
- The crow, the sland’rous cuckoo, nor
- The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
- Nor chatt’ring pie,
- May on our bridehouse perch or sing,
- Or with them any discord bring,
- But from it fly.
- Enter three Queens, in black, with veils stain’d, with
- imperial crowns.
- The first Queen falls down at the foot of Theseus; the
- second falls down at the foot of Hippolyta; the third before
First Queen25 - 26
- For pity’s sake and true gentility’s,
- Hear and respect me.
Second Queen27 - 29
- For your mother’s sake,
- And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,
- Hear and respect me.
Third Queen30 - 35
- Now for the love of him whom Jove hath mark’d
- The honor of your bed, and for the sake
- Of clear virginity, be advocate
- For us and our distresses! This good deed
- Shall raze you out o’ th’ book of trespasses
- All you are set down there.
- Sad lady, rise.
- Stand up.
Emilia38 - 40
- No knees to me.
- What woman I may stead that is distress’d
- Does bind me to her.
- What’s your request? Deliver you for all.
First Queen42 - 57
- We are three queens, whose sovereigns fell before
- The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured
- The beaks of ravens, talents of the kites,
- And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.
- He will not suffer us to bum their bones,
- To urn their ashes, nor to take th’ offense
- Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye
- Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds
- With stench of our slain lords. O, pity, Duke,
- Thou purger of the earth, draw thy fear’d sword
- That does good turns to th’ world; give us the bones
- Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;
- And of thy boundless goodness take some note
- That for our crowned heads we have no roof,
- Save this which is the lion’s, and the bear’s,
- And vault to every thing!
Theseus58 - 74
- Pray you kneel not;
- I was transported with your speech, and suffer’d
- Your knees to wrong themselves. I have heard the fortunes
- Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting
- As wakes my vengeance and revenge for ’em.
- King Capaneus was your lord. The day
- That he should marry you, at such a season
- As now it is with me, I met your groom
- By Mars’s altar. You were that time fair;
- Not Juno’s mantle fairer than your tresses,
- Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreath
- Was then nor thresh’d nor blasted; Fortune at you
- Dimpled her cheek with smiles. Hercules our kinsman
- (Then weaker than your eyes) laid by his club;
- He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide,
- And swore his sinews thaw’d. O grief and time,
- Fearful consumers, you will all devour!
First Queen75 - 78
- O, I hope some god,
- Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
- Whereto he’ll infuse pow’r, and press you forth
- Our undertaker.
Theseus79 - 82
- O, no knees, none, widow!
- Unto the helmeted Bellona use them,
- And pray for me your soldier.
- Troubled I am.
- Turns away.
Second Queen83 - 107
- Honored Hippolyta,
- Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
- The scythe-tusk’d boar; that with thy arm, as strong
- As it is white, wast near to make the male
- To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord,
- Born to uphold creation in that honor
- First Nature styl’d it in, shrunk thee into
- The bound thou wast o’erflowing, at once subduing
- Thy force and thy affection; soldieress
- That equally canst poise sternness with pity,
- Whom now I know hast much more power on him
- Than ever he had on thee, who ow’st his strength,
- And his love too, who is a servant for
- The tenor of thy speech; dear glass of ladies,
- Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scorch,
- Under the shadow of his sword may cool us;
- Require him he advance it o’er our heads;
- Speak’t in a woman’s key—like such a woman
- As any of us three; weep ere you fail;
- Lend us a knee;
- But touch the ground for us no longer time
- Than a dove’s motion when the head’s pluck’d off;
- Tell him, if he i’ th’ blood-siz’d field lay swoll’n,
- Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,
- What you would do.
Hippolyta108 - 113
- Poor lady, say no more:
- I had as lief trace this good action with you
- As that whereto I am going, and never yet
- Went I so willing way. My lord is taken
- Heart-deep with your distress. Let him consider.
- I’ll speak anon.
Third Queen114 - 117
- O, my petition was
- Kneel to Emilia.
- Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
- Melts into drops; so sorrow wanting form
- Is press’d with deeper matter.
Emilia118 - 119
- Pray stand up,
- Your grief is written in your cheek.
Third Queen120 - 129
- O, woe,
- You cannot read it there. There, through my tears,
- Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
- You may behold ’em. Lady, lady, alack!
- He that will all the treasure know o’ th’ earth
- Must know the center too; he that will fish
- For my least minnow, let him lead his line
- To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me,
- Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,
- Makes me a fool.
Emilia130 - 140
- Pray you say nothing, pray you.
- Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in’t,
- Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were
- The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you
- T’ instruct me ’gainst a capital grief indeed—
- Such heart-pierc’d demonstration! But alas,
- Being a natural sister of our sex,
- Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me
- That it shall make a counter-reflect ’gainst
- My brother’s heart, and warm it to some pity,
- Though it were made of stone. Pray have good comfort.
Theseus141 - 142
- Forward to th’ temple. Leave not out a jot
- O’ th’ sacred ceremony.
First Queen143 - 152
- O, this celebration
- Will long last and be more costly than
- Your suppliants’ war! Remember that your fame
- Knolls in the ear o’ th’ world; what you do quickly
- Is not done rashly; your first thought is more
- Than others’ labored meditance; your premeditating
- More than their actions. But, O Jove, your actions,
- Soon as they move, as asprays do the fish,
- Subdue before they touch. Think, dear Duke, think
- What beds our slain kings have!
Second Queen153 - 154
- What griefs our beds
- That our dear lords have none!
Third Queen155 - 159
- None fit for th’ dead:
- Those that with cords, knives, drams, precipitance,
- Weary of this world’s light, have to themselves
- Been death’s most horrid agents, humane grace
- Affords them dust and shadow.
First Queen160 - 162
- But our lords
- Lie blist’ring ’fore the visitating sun,
- And were good kings when living.
Theseus163 - 165
- It is true; and I will give you comfort
- To give your dead lords graves; the which to do
- Must make some work with Creon.
First Queen166 - 172
- And that work presents itself to th’ doing:
- Now ’twill take form, the heats are gone tomorrow.
- Then, bootless toil must recompense itself
- With its own sweat; now he’s secure,
- Not dreams we stand before your puissance
- Wrinching our holy begging in our eyes
- To make petition clear.
Second Queen173 - 174
- Now you may take him
- Drunk with his victory.
Third Queen175 - 176
- And his army full
- Of bread and sloth.
Theseus177 - 183
- Artesius, that best knowest
- How to draw out, fit to this enterprise,
- The prim’st for this proceeding, and the number
- To carry such a business, forth and levy
- Our worthiest instruments, whilst we dispatch
- This grand act of our life, this daring deed
- Of fate in wedlock.
First Queen184 - 186
- Dowagers, take hands,
- Let us be widows to our woes; delay
- Commends us to a famishing hope.
Second Queen188 - 190
- We come unseasonably; but when could grief
- Cull forth, as unpang’d judgment can, fitt’st time
- For best solicitation?
Theseus191 - 195
- Why, good ladies,
- This is a service, whereto I am going,
- Greater than any war; it more imports me
- Than all the actions that I have foregone,
- Or futurely can cope.
First Queen196 - 208
- The more proclaiming
- Our suit shall be neglected. When her arms,
- Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
- By warranting moonlight corslet thee—O, when
- Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
- Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think
- Of rotten kings or blubber’d queens? What care
- For what thou feel’st not? What thou feel’st being able
- To make Mars spurn his drum. O, if thou couch
- But one night with her, every hour in’t will
- Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and
- Thou shalt remember nothing more than what
- That banquet bids thee to!
Hippolyta209 - 222
- Though much unlike
- You should be so transported, as much sorry
- I should be such a suitor; yet I think
- Did I not by th’ abstaining of my joy,
- Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
- That craves a present med’cine, I should pluck
- All ladies’ scandal on me. Therefore, sir,
- As I shall here make trial of my pray’rs,
- Either presuming them to have some force,
- Or sentencing for aye their vigor dumb,
- Prorogue this business we are going about, and hang
- Your shield afore your heart, about that neck
- Which is my fee, and which I freely lend
- To do these poor queens service.
All Queens223 - 224
- To Emilia.
- O, help now!
- Our cause cries for your knee.
Emilia225 - 230
- If you grant not
- My sister her petition, in that force,
- With that celerity and nature, which
- She makes it in, from henceforth I’ll not dare
- To ask you any thing, nor be so hardy
- Ever to take a husband.
Theseus231 - 248
- Pray stand up.
- They rise.
- I am entreating of myself to do
- That which you kneel to have me. Pirithous,
- Lead on the bride; get you and pray the gods
- For success and return; omit not any thing
- In the pretended celebration. Queens,
- Follow your soldier.
- To Artesius.
- As before, hence you,
- And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
- The forces you can raise, where we shall find
- The moi’ty of a number for a business
- More bigger-look’d.
- Exit Artesius.
- To Hippolyta.
- Since that our theme is haste,
- I stamp this kiss upon thy currant lip.
- Sweet, keep it as my token. Set you forward,
- For I will see you gone.
- Exeunt slowly towards the temple.
- Farewell, my beauteous sister. Pirithous,
- Keep the feast full, bate not an hour on’t.
Pirithous249 - 251
- I’ll follow you at heels; the feast’s solemnity
- Shall want till your return.
Theseus252 - 255
- Cousin, I charge you
- Budge not from Athens. We shall be returning
- Ere you can end this feast, of which I pray you
- Make no abatement. Once more, farewell all.
First Queen256 - 257
- Thus dost thou still make good
- The tongue o’ th’ world.
Second Queen258 - 259
- And earn’st a deity
- Equal with Mars.
Third Queen260 - 263
- If not above him, for
- Thou being but mortal makest affections bend
- To godlike honors; they themselves, some say,
- Groan under such a mast’ry.
Theseus264 - 267
- As we are men
- Thus should we do, being sensually subdu’d
- We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies.
- Now turn we towards your comforts.
- Flourish. Exeunt.