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Pericles, Prince of Tyre: Act 1 Scene 4
Scene IV Tarsus. A room in the Governor's house.
- [Enter CLEON, the governor of Tarsus, with DIONYZA,
- and others]
- My Dionyza, shall we rest us here,
- And by relating tales of others' griefs,
- See if 'twill teach us to forget our own?
- That were to blow at fire in hope to quench it;
- For who digs hills because they do aspire
- Throws down one mountain to cast up a higher.
- O my distressed lord, even such our griefs are;
- Here they're but felt, and seen with mischief's eyes,
- But like to groves, being topp'd, they higher rise.
- O Dionyza,
- Who wanteth food, and will not say he wants it,
- Or can conceal his hunger till he famish?
- Our tongues and sorrows do sound deep
- Our woes into the air; our eyes do weep,
- Till tongues fetch breath that may proclaim them louder;
- That, if heaven slumber while their creatures want,
- They may awake their helps to comfort them.
- I'll then discourse our woes, felt several years,
- And wanting breath to speak help me with tears.
- I'll do my best, sir.
- This Tarsus, o'er which I have the government,
- A city on whom plenty held full hand,
- For riches strew'd herself even in the streets;
- Whose towers bore heads so high they kiss'd the clouds,
- And strangers ne'er beheld but wondered at;
- Whose men and dames so jetted and adorn'd,
- Like one another's glass to trim them by:
- Their tables were stored full, to glad the sight,
- And not so much to feed on as delight;
- All poverty was scorn'd, and pride so great,
- The name of help grew odious to repeat.
- O, 'tis too true.
- But see what heaven can do! By this our change,
- These mouths, who but of late, earth, sea, and air,
- Were all too little to content and please,
- Although they gave their creatures in abundance,
- As houses are defiled for want of use,
- They are now starved for want of exercise:
- Those palates who, not yet two summers younger,
- Must have inventions to delight the taste,
- Would now be glad of bread, and beg for it:
- Those mothers who, to nousle up their babes,
- Thought nought too curious, are ready now
- To eat those little darlings whom they loved.
- So sharp are hunger's teeth, that man and wife
- Draw lots who first shall die to lengthen life:
- Here stands a lord, and there a lady weeping;
- Here many sink, yet those which see them fall
- Have scarce strength left to give them burial.
- Is not this true?
- Our cheeks and hollow eyes do witness it.
- O, let those cities that of plenty's cup
- And her prosperities so largely taste,
- With their superfluous riots, hear these tears!
- The misery of Tarsus may be theirs.
- [Enter a Lord]
- Where's the lord governor?
- Speak out thy sorrows which thou bring'st in haste,
- For comfort is too far for us to expect.
- We have descried, upon our neighbouring shore,
- A portly sail of ships make hitherward.
- I thought as much.
- One sorrow never comes but brings an heir,
- That may succeed as his inheritor;
- And so in ours: some neighbouring nation,
- Taking advantage of our misery,
- Hath stuff'd these hollow vessels with their power,
- To beat us down, the which are down already;
- And make a conquest of unhappy me,
- Whereas no glory's got to overcome.
- That's the least fear; for, by the semblance
- Of their white flags display'd, they bring us peace,
- And come to us as favourers, not as foes.
- Thou speak'st like him's untutor'd to repeat:
- Who makes the fairest show means most deceit.
- But bring they what they will and what they can,
- What need we fear?
- The ground's the lowest, and we are half way there.
- Go tell their general we attend him here,
- To know for what he comes, and whence he comes,
- And what he craves.
- I go, my lord.
- Welcome is peace, if he on peace consist;
- If wars, we are unable to resist.
- [Enter PERICLES with Attendants]
- Lord governor, for so we hear you are,
- Let not our ships and number of our men
- Be like a beacon fired to amaze your eyes.
- We have heard your miseries as far as Tyre,
- And seen the desolation of your streets:
- Nor come we to add sorrow to your tears,
- But to relieve them of their heavy load;
- And these our ships, you happily may think
- Are like the Trojan horse was stuff'd within
- With bloody veins, expecting overthrow,
- Are stored with corn to make your needy bread,
- And give them life whom hunger starved half dead.
- The gods of Greece protect you!
- And we'll pray for you.
- Arise, I pray you, rise:
- We do not look for reverence, but to love,
- And harbourage for ourself, our ships, and men.
- The which when any shall not gratify,
- Or pay you with unthankfulness in thought,
- Be it our wives, our children, or ourselves,
- The curse of heaven and men succeed their evils!
- Till when,--the which I hope shall ne'er be seen,--
- Your grace is welcome to our town and us.
- Which welcome we'll accept; feast here awhile,
- Until our stars that frown lend us a smile.