Prologue

Flourish. Enter Prologue
 

Chorus New plays and maidenheads are near akin:
Much followed both, for both much money giv'n
If they stand sound and well. And a good play,
Whose modest scenes blush on his marriage day
That after holy tie and first night's stir
Yet still is modesty, and still retains
More of the maid to sight than husband's pains.
We pray our play may be so, for I am sure
It has a noble breeder and a pure, ... [Pro.10]
A learned. and a poet never went
More famous yet 'twixt Po and silver Trent.
Chaucer, of all admired, the story gives:
There constant to eternity it lives.
Of we let fall the nobleness of this
And the first sound this child hear be a hiss,
Now will it shake the bones of that good man,
And make him cry from under ground, 'O fan
From me the witless chaff of such a writer,
That blasts my bays and my famed works makes lighter ... [Pro.20]
Than Robin Hood? This is the fear we bring,
For to say truth, it were an endless thing
And too ambitious to aspire to him,
Weak as we are, and almost breathless swim
In this deep water. Do but you hold out
Your helping hands and we shall tack about
And something do to save us. You shall hear
Scenes, though below his art, may yet appear
Worth two hours' travail. To his bones, sweet sleep;
Content to you. If this play do not keep ... [Pro. 30]
A little dull time from us, we perceive
Our losses fall so thick we must needs leave. [Flourish. Exit]

 

Act I, Scene 1

Music. Enter Hymen with a torch burning, a Boy in a white robe before, singing and strewing flowers. After Hymen, a nymph encompassed in her tresses, bearing a wheaten garland. Then Theseus between two other nymphs with wheaten chaplets on 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. Then Artesius (and other attendants).
 

BOY [sings during procession.]
Roses, their sharp spines being gone,
Not royal in their smells alone,
But in their hue;
Maiden pinks, of odor faint,
And sweet thyme true;
Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Merry springtime's harbinger,
With harebells dim;
Oxlips, in their cradles growing, ... [I.1.10]
Marigolds, on deathbeds blowing,
Lark's-heels trim;
All dear nature's children sweet,
Lie fore bride and bridegroom's feet.
Blessing their sense.
Not an angel of the air,
Bird melodious, or bird fair,
Is absent hence.
The crow, the sland'rous cuckoo, nor ... [I.1.20]
Nor chatt'ring pie,
May on our bride-house perch or sing,
Or with them any discord bring,
But from it fly.
 

[Enter three Queens in black, with veils stained, 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 Emilia.]
 

1 QUEEN [to Theseus.] For pity's sake and true gentility's,
Hear and respect me.
2 QUEEN [to Hippolyta,] For your mother's sake,
And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,
Hear and respect me.
3 QUEEN [to Emilia.] Now for the love of him whom Jove hath marked
The honor of your bed, and for the sake ... [I.1.30]
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.
THESEUS [to First Queen.] Sad lady, rise.
HIPPOLYTA [to Second Queen.] ~~~ Stand up.
EMILIA [to Third Queen.] ~~~ ~~~ No knees to me.
What woman I may stead that is distressed
Does bind me to her.
THESEUS [to First Queen.] What's your request? Deliver you for all.
1 QUEEN [kneeling still.] We are three queens whose sovereigns
fell before
The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured ... [I.1.40]
The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,
And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.
He will not suffer us to burn 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 feared sword
That does good turns to th' world; give us the bones
And of thy boundless goodness take some note ... [I.1.50]
That for our crowned heads we have no roof,
Save this, which is the lion's and the bear's,
And vault to everything.
THESEUS Pray you, kneel not:
I was transported with your speech, and suffered
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 Capeneus was your lord: the day
That he should marry you -- at such a season ... [I.1.60]
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 threshed 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 thawed. O grief and time,
Fearful consumers, you will all devour. ... [I.1.70]
1 QUEEN [Kneeling still.] O, I hope some god,
Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
Whereto he'll infuse power and press you forth
Our undertaker.
THESEUS O no knees, none, widow: [The First Queen rises.]
Unto the helmeted Bellona use them
And pray for me, your soldier. Troubled I am
2 QUEEN [kneeling still.] Honored Hippolyta,
Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain
The scythe-tusked boar, that with thy arm, as strong
As it is white, wast near to make the male ... [I.1.80]
To thy sex captive, but that this, thy lord --
Born to uphold creation in that honor
First nature styled 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 has 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, ... [I.1.90]
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 plucked off.
Tell him, if he i' th' blood-sized field lay swoll'n,
Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon, ... [I.1.100]
What you would do.
HIPPOLYTA 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. [The Second Queen rises.]
3 QUEEN [kneeling still, to Emilia.] O, my petition was
Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
Melts into drops; so sorrow, wanting form,
Is pressed with deeper matter.
EMILIA Pray stand up:
Your grief is written in your cheek.
3 QUEEN O woe, ... [I.1.110]
You cannot read it there; there, through my tears,
Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,
You may behold 'em. [The Third Queen arises.] 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.
EMILIA Pray you, say nothing, pray you.
Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in't, ... [I.1.120]
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-pierced 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.
THESEUS Forward to th' temple. Leave not out a jot ... [I.1.130]
O'th' sacred ceremony.
1 QUEEN O, this celebration
Will longer 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 ospreys do the fish,
Subdue before they touch. Think, dear Duke, think
What beds our slain kings have.
2 QUEEN What griefs our beds, ... [I.1.140]
That our dear lords have none.
3 QUEEN 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, human grace
Affords them dust and shadow.
1 QUEEN But our lords
Lie blist'ring fore the visitating sun,
And were good kings, when living
THESEUS  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.
1 QUEEN And that work presents itself to th' doing ... [I.1.150]
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
Rinsing our holy begging in our eyes
To make petition clear.
2 QUEEN Now you may take him,
Drunk with his victory.
3 QUEEN And his army full
Of bread and sloth.
THESEUS Artesius, that best knowest
How to draw out, fit to this enterprise
The prim'st for this proceeding and the number ... [I.1.160]
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.
1 QUEEN [to the other two Queens.] ~~~ Dowagers, take hands;
Let us be widows to our woes; delay
Commends us to a famishing hope.
ALL THREE QUEENS Farewell
2 QUEEN We come unseasonably, but when could grief
Cull forth, as unpanged judgment can, fitt'st time
For best solicitation?
THESEUS Why, good ladies, ... [I.1.170]
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.
1 QUEEN 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 blubbered queens? What care
For what thou feel'st not, what thou feel'st being able ... [I.1.180]
To make Mars spur 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.
HIPPOLYTA [to Theseus.] ~~~ 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 medicine, I should pluck ... [I.1.190]
All ladies' scandal on me. [Kneels.] Therefore, sir,
As I shall here make trial of my prayers,
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 THREE QUEENS [to Emilia.] ~~~ O, help now,
Our cause cries for your knee.
EMILIA [Kneels to Theseus.] ~~~ If you grant not
My sister her petition in that force ... [I.1.200]
With that celerity and nature which
She makes it in, from henceforth I'll not dare
To ask you anything, nor be so hardy
Ever to take a husband.
THESEUS 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 anything
In the pretended celebration. -- Queens,
Follow your soldier. [to Artesius.] As before, hence you, ... [I.1.210]
And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
The forces you can raise, where we shall find
The moiety of a number for a business
More bigger looked. [Exit Artesius.]
[to Hippolyta.] ~~~ Since that our theme is haste,
I stamp this kiss upon thy current lip --
Sweet, keep it as my token. [to the wedding party.] Set you forward,
For I will see you gone.
[to Emilia.] Farewell, my beauteous sister. -- Pirithous,
Keep the feast full: bate not an hour on't.
PIRITHOUS Sir,
I'll follow you at heels. The feast's solemnity ... [I.1.220]
Shall want till your return
THESEUS 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.
[Exeunt Hippolyta, Emilia, Pirithous, and train towards the temple.]
1 QUEEN Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o' th' world.
2 QUEEN And earn'st a deity equal with Mars --
3 QUEEN If not above him, for
Thou being but mortal mak'st affections bend
To godlike honors; they themselves, some say,
Groan under such a mast'ry.
THESEUS As we are men,] ... [I.1.230]
Thus should we do; being sensually subdued
We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies.
Now turn we towards your comforts. [Flourish. Exeunt.]
   

 

To see other scenes from the show: 

Full Text Act III, Scene 3/Act III, Scene 4
Act I, Scene 1 Act III, Scene 5
Act I, Scene 2 Act III, Scene 6
Act I, Scene 3 Act IV, Scene 1
Act I, Scene 4/Act I, Scene 5 Act IV, Scene 2
Act II, Scene 1 Act IV, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 2 Act V, Scene 1
Act II, Scene 3/Act II, Scene 4 Act V, Scene 2/Act V, Scene 3
Act II, Scene 5/Act II, Scene 6 Act V, Scene 4
Act III, Scene 1/Act III, Scene 2 Act V, Scene 5/Act V, Scene 6 

 

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