Act II, Scene 2

Enter Palamon and Arcite in prison, (in shackles), above].

 

PALAMON How do you, noble cousin?
ARCITE How do you, sir?
PALAMON Why, strong enough to laugh at misery
And bear the chance of war. Yet we are prisoners,
I fear, for ever, cousin.
ARCITE I believe it,
And to that destiny have patiently
Laid up my hour to come.
PALAMON O, cousin Arcite,
Where is Thebes now? Where is our noble country?
Where are our friends and kindreds? Never more
Must we behold those comforts, never see
The hardy youths strive for the games of honor, ... [II.2.10]
Hung with the painted favors of their ladies,
Like tall ships under sail; then start amongst 'em
And, as an east wind, leave 'em all behind us,
Like lazy clouds, whilst Palamon and Arcite,
Even in the wagging of a wanton leg,
Outstripped the people's praises, won the garlands
Ere they have time to wish 'em ours. O never
Shall we two exercise, like twins of honor,
Our arms again and feel our fiery horses
Like proud seas under us. Our good swords, now -- ... [II.2.20]
Better the red-eyed god of war ne'er wore --
Ravished our sides, like age must run to rust
And deck the temples of those gods that hate us.
These hands shall never draw 'em out like lightning
To blast whole armies more.
ARCITE No, Palamon,
Those hopes are prisoners with us. Here we are,
And here the graces of our youths must wither,
Like a too-timely spring. Here age must find us
And, which is heaviest, Palamon, unmarried --
The sweet embraces of a loving wife ... [II.2.30]
Loaden with kisses, armed with thousand Cupids,
Shall never clasp our necks; no issue know us;
No figures of ourselves shall we e'er see
To glad our age, and, like young eagles, teach 'em
Boldly to gaze against bright arms and say,
'Remember what your fathers were, and conquer.'
The fair-eyed maids shall weep our banishments,
And in their songs curse ever-blinded fortune,
Till she for shame see what a wrong she has done
To youth and nature. This is all our world. ... [II.2.40]
We shall know nothing here but one another,
Hear nothing but the clock that tells our woes.
The vine shall grow, but we shall never see it;
Summer shall come, and with her all delights,
But dead-cold winter must inhabit here still.
PALAMON 'Tis too true, Arcite. To our Theban hounds
That shook the aged forest with their echoes,
No more now must we holler; no more shake
Our pointed javelins whilst the angry swine
Flies like a Parthian quiver from our rages, ... [II.2.50]
Struck with our well-steeled darts. All valiant uses --
The food and nourishment of noble minds --
In us two here shall perish; we shall die --
Which is the curse of honor -- lastly,
Children of grief and ignorance.
ARCITE Yet, cousin,
Even from the bottom of these miseries,
From all that fortune can inflict upon us,
I see two comforts rising -- two mere blessings,
If the gods please, to hold here a brave patience
And the enjoying of our griefs together. ... [II.2.60]
Whilst Palamon is with me, let me perish
If I think this our prison.
PALAMON Certainly
'Tis a main goodness, cousin, that our fortunes
Were twined together. 'Tis most true, two souls
Put in noble bodies, let 'em suffer
The gall of hazard, so they grow together,
Will never sink; they must not, say they could.
A willing man dies sleeping and all's done.
ARCITE Shall we make worthy uses of this place
That all men hate so much?
PALAMON How, gentle cousin?
ARCITE Let's think this prison holy sanctuary,
To keep us from corruption of worse men.
We are young, and yet desire the ways of honor
That liberty and common conversation,
The poison of pure spirits, might, like women,
Woo us to wander from. What worthy blessing
Can be, but our imaginations
May make it ours? And here being thus together,
We are an endless mine to one another:
We are one another's wife, ever begetting ... [II.80
New births of love; we are father, friends, acquaintance;
We are in one another, families --
I am your heir, and you are mine; this place
Is our inheritance; no hard oppressor
Dare take this from us. Here, with a little patience,
We shall live long and loving. No surfeits seek us --
The hand of war hurts none here, nor the seas
Swallow their youth. Were we at liberty
A wife might part us lawfully, or business;
Quarrels consume us; envy of ill men ... [II.2.90]
Crave our acquaintance. I might sicken, cousin,
Where you should never know it, and so perish
Without your noble hand to close mine eyes,
Or prayers to the gods. A thousand chances,
Were we from hence, would sever us.
PALAMON You have made me --
I thank you, cousin Arcite -- almost wanton
With my captivity. What a misery
It is to live abroad, and everywhere!
'Tis like a beast, methinks. I find the court here;
I am sure, a more content; and all those pleasures ... [II.2.100]
That woo the wills of men to vanity
I see through now, and am sufficient
To tell the world 'tis but a gaudy shadow,
That old Time, as he passes by, takes with him.
What had we been, old in the court of Creon,
Where sin is justice, lust and ignorance
The virtues of the great ones? Cousin Arcite,
Had not the loving gods found this place for us,
We had died as they do, ill old men, unwept,
And had their epitaphs, the people's curses. ... [II.2.110]
Shall I say more?
ARCITE I would hear you still.
PALAMON Ye shall.
Is there record of any two that loved
Better than we do, Arcite?
ARCITE Sure there cannot.
PALAMON I do not think it possible our friendship
Should ever leave us.
ARCITE Till our deaths it cannot,
[Enter Emilia and her Woman (below). Palamon sees Emilia and is silent.]
And after death our spirits shall be led
To those that love eternally. Speak on, sir.
EMILIA  [to her Woman.] This garden has a world of pleasure in't.
What flower is this?
WOMAN 'Tis called narcissus, madam.
EMILIA That was a fair boy, certain, but a fool ... [II.2.120]
To love himself. Were there not maids enough?
ARCITE [to Palamon.] Pray forward.
PALAMON Yes.
EMILIA [to her Woman.] ~~~ ~~~ Or were they all hard-hearted?
WOMAN They could not be to one so fair.
EMILIA Thou wouldst not.
WOMAN I think I should not, madam.
EMILIA That's a good wench --
But take heed to your kindness, though.
WOMAN Why, madam?
EMILIA Men are mad things.
ARCITE Will ye go forward, cousin?
EMILIA [to her Woman.] Canst not thou work such flowers in silk, wench?
WOMAN Yes.
EMILIA I'll have a gown full of 'em, and of these.
This is a pretty color -- will't not do
Rarely upon a skirt, wench?
WOMAN Dainty, madam.
ARCITE [to Palamon.] Cousin, cousin, how do you, sir? Why, Palamon!
PALAMON Never till now was I in prison, Arcite.
ARCITE Why, what's the matter, man?
PALAMON Behold and wonder! [Arcite sees Emilia.]
By heaven, she is a goddess!
ARCITE Ha!
PALAMON Do reverence.
She is a goddess, Arcite.
EMILIA [to her Woman.] ~~~ Of all flowers
Methinks a rose is best.
WOMAN Why, gentle madam?
EMILIA It is the very emblem of a maid --
For when the west wind courts her gently,
How modestly she blows, and paints the sun
With her chaste blushes! When the north comes near her, ... [II.2.140]
Rude and impatient, then, like chastity,
She locks her beauties in her bud again,
And leaves him to base briars.
WOMAN Yet, good madam,
Sometimes her modesty will blow so far
She falls for't -- a maid,
If she have any honor, would be loath
To take example by her.
EMILIA Thou art wanton.
ARCITE [to Palamon.] She is wondrous fair.
PALAMON She is all the beauty extant.
EMILIA [to her Woman.]
The sun grows high -- let's walk in. Keep these flowers.
We'll see how close art can come near their colors. ... [II.2.150]
I am wondrous merry-hearted -- I could laugh now.
WOMAN I could lie down, I am sure.
EMILIA And take one with you?
WOMAN  That's as we bargain, madam.
 
EMILIA Well, agree then. [Exeunt Emilia and her Woman.]
PALAMON What think you of this beauty?
ARCITE 'Tis a rare one.
PALAMON Is't but a rare one?
ARCITE Yes, a matchless beauty.
PALAMON Might not a man well lose himself and love her?
ARCITE I cannot tell what you have done; I have,
Beshrew mine eyes for't. Now I feel my shackles.
PALAMON You love her then?
ARCITE Who would not?
PALAMON And desire her?
ARCITE Before my liberty.
PALAMON I saw her first.
ARCITE That's nothing.
PALAMON But it shall be.
ARCITE I saw her too.
PALAMON Yes, but you must not love her
ARCITE I will not, as you do, to worship her
As she is heavenly and a blessed goddess!
I love her as a woman, to enjoy her --
So both may love.
PALAMON You shall not love at all.
ARCITE Not love at all -- who shall deny me?
PALAMON I that first saw her, I that took possession ... [II.2.170]
First with mine eye of all those beauties
In her revealed to mankind. If thou lov'st her,
Or entertain'st a hope to blast my wishes,
Thou art a traitor, Arcite, and a fellow
False as thy title to her. Friendship, blood,
And all the ties between us I disclaim,
If thou once think upon her.
ARCITE Yes, I love her --
And if the lives of all my name lay on it,
I must do so. I love her with my soul --
If that will lose ye, farewell, Palamon! ... [II.2.180]
I say again,
I love her, and in loving her maintain
I am as worthy and as free a lover,
And have as just a title to her beauty,
As any Palamon, or any living
That is a man's son.
PALAMON Have I called thee friend?
ARCITE Yes, and have found me so. Why are you moved thus?
Let me deal coldly with you. Am not I
Part of your blood, part of your soul? You have told me
That I was Palamon and you were Arcite.
PALAMON Yes.
ARCITE Am I not liable to those affections,
Those joys, griefs, angers, fears, my friend shall suffer?
PALAMON Ye may be.
ARCITE Why then would you deal so cunningly,
So strangely, so unlike a noble kinsman,
To love alone? Speak truly. Do you think me
Unworthy of her sight?
PALAMON No, but unjust
If thou pursue that sight.
ARCITE Because another
First sees the enemy, shall I stand still,
And let mine honor down, and never charge?
PALAMON Yes, if he be but one.
ARCITE But say that one ... [II.2.200]
Had rather combat me?
PALAMON Let that one say so,
And use thy freedom; else, if thou pursuest her,
Be as that cursed man that hates his country,
A branded villain.
ARCITE You are mad.
PALAMON I must be.
Till thou art worthy, Arcite, it concerns me,
And in this madness if I hazard thee
And take thy life, I deal but truly.
ARCITE Fie, sir.
You play the child extremely. I will love her,
I must, I ought to do so, and I dare --
And all this justly.
PALAMON O, that now, that now ... [II.2.210]
Thy false self and thy friend had but this fortune --
To be one hour at liberty and grasp
Our good swords in our hands! I would quickly teach thee
What t'were to filch affection from another.
Thou art baser in it than a cut-purse.
Put but thy head out of this window more
And, as I have a soul, I'll nail thy life to't.
ARCITE Thou dar'st not, fool; thou canst not; thou art feeble.
Put my head out? I'll throw my body out
And leap the garden when I see her next, [Enter the Jailer, above.] ... [II.2.220]
And pitch between her arms to anger thee.
PALAMON No more -- the keeper's coming. I shall live
To knock thy brains out with my shackles.
ARCITE Do.
JAILER By your leave, gentlemen.
PALAMON Now, honest keeper?
JAILER Lord Arcite, you must presently to th' Duke.
The cause I know not yet.
ARCITE I am ready, keeper.
JAILER Prince Palamon, I must a while bereave you
Of your fair cousin's company. [Exeunt Arcite and the Jailer.]
PALAMON And me, too,
Even when you please, of life. Why is he sent for?
It may be he shall marry her -- he's goodly, ... [II.2.230]
And like enough the Duke hath taken notice
Both of his blood and body. But his falsehood!
Why should a friend be treacherous? If that
Get him a wife so noble and so fair,
Let honest men ne'er love again. Once more
I would but see this fair one. Blessed garden,
And fruit and flowers more blessed, that still blossom
As her bright eyes shine on ye! Would I were,
For all the fortune of my life hereafter,
Yon little tree, yon blooming apricot -- ... [II.2.240]
How I would spread and fling my wanton arms
In at her window! I would bring her fruit
Fit for the gods to feed on; youth and pleasure
Still as she tasted should be doubled on her;
And if she be not heavenly, I would make her
So near the gods in nature they should fear her --
[Enter the Jailer, above.]
And then I am sure she would love me. How now, keeper,
Where's Arcite?
JAILER: ~~~ Banished -- Prince Pirithous
Obtained his liberty; but never more,
Upon his oath and life, must he set foot
Upon this kingdom. ... [II.2.250]
 
PALAMON [aside] He's a blessed man.
He shall see Thebes again, and call to arms
The bold young men that, when he bids 'em charge,
Fall on like fire. Arcite shall have a fortune,
If he dare make himself a worthy lover,
Yet in the field to strike a battle for her;
And if he lose her then, he's a cold coward.
How bravely may he bear himself to win her
If he be noble Arcite; thousand ways!
Were I at liberty I would do things ... [II.2.260]
Of such virtuous greatness that this lady,
This blushing virgin, should take manhood to her
And seek to ravish me.
JAILER My lord, for you
I have this charge to --
PALAMON to discharge my life.
JAILER No, but from this place to remove your lordship --
The windows are too open.
PALAMON Devils take 'em
That are so envious to me -- prithee kill me.
JAILER And hang for't afterward?
PALAMON By this good light,
Had I a sword I would kill thee.
JAILER Why, my lord?
PALAMON Thou bring'st such pelting scurvy news continually, ... [II.2.270]
Thou art not worthy life. I will not go.
 
JAILER Indeed you must, my lord.
PALAMON May I see the garden?
JAILER No.
PALAMON Then I am resolved -- I will not go
JAILER I must constrain you, then; and for you are dangerous,
I'll clap more irons on you.
PALAMON Do, good keeper.
I'll shake 'em so ye shall not sleep:
I'll make ye a new morris. Must I go?
JAILER  There is no remedy.
PALAMON Farewell, kind window.
May rude wind never hurt thee, O, my lady,
If ever thou hast felt what sorrow was, ... [II.2.280]
Dream how I suffer. Come, now bury me.

 

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