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Pericles :: Scenes :: Pericles: Act III, Scene 1

Scene 1

On a ship at sea.

(Pericles; Lychorida; First Sailor; Second Sailor)

Pericles yells at the sky to cease its storm while praying for his wife, who is giving birth in the cabin. Lychorida brings him the baby, a girl, but must tell him that Thaisa died. The storm continues, and the sailors insist on throwing Thaisa’s body overboard, claiming it will help calm the sea. Pericles agrees, ordering a chest be made ready to bury her in. He asks the captain to make for Tarsus, planning to leave his daughter in Cleon’s care. ( line)

Enter Pericles a-shipboard.

PER.

The god of this great vast, rebuke these surges,

Which wash both heaven and hell; and thou that hast

Upon the winds command, bind them in brass,

Having call’d them from the deep! O, still

Thy deaf’ning, dreadful thunders, gently quench

Thy nimble, sulphurous flashes!—O, how, Lychorida!

How does my queen?—Thou storm, venomously

Wilt thou spet all thyself? The seaman’s whistle

Is as a whisper in the ears of death,

Unheard.—Lychorida!—Lucina, O!

Divinest patroness, and midwife gentle

To those that cry by night, convey thy Deity

Aboard our dancing boat, make swift the pangs

Of my queen’s travails!—Now, Lychorida!

Enter Lychorida with an infant.

LYC.

Here is a thing too young for such a place,

Who, if it had conceit, would die, as I

Am like to do. Take in your arms this piece

Of your dead queen.

PER.

How? How, Lychorida?

LYC.

Patience, good sir, do not assist the storm.

Here’s all that is left living of your queen:

A little daughter. For the sake of it

Be manly, and take comfort.

PER.

O you gods!

Why do you make us love your goodly gifts

And snatch them straight away? We here below

Recall not what we give, and therein may

Use honor with you.

LYC.

Patience, good sir,

Even for this charge.

PER.

Now, mild may be thy life!

For a more blusterous birth had never babe.

Quiet and gentle thy conditions! For

Thou art the rudeliest welcome to this world

That ever was prince’s child. Happy what follows!

Thou hast as chiding a nativity

As fire, air, water, earth, and heaven can make

To herald thee from the womb. Even at the first

Thy loss is more than can thy portage quit

With all thou canst find here. Now the good gods

Throw their best eyes upon’t!

Enter two Sailors.

1. SAIL.

What courage, sir? God save you!

PER.

Courage enough. I do not fear the flaw,

It hath done to me the worst. Yet for the love

Of this poor infant, this fresh new sea-farer,

I would it would be quiet.

1. SAIL.

Slack the bolins there!—Thou wilt not, wilt thou? Blow, and split thyself.

2. SAIL.

But sea-room, and the brine and cloudy billow kiss the moon, I care not.

1. SAIL.

Sir, your queen must overboard. The sea works high, the wind is loud, and will not lie till the ship be clear’d of the dead.

PER.

That’s your superstition.

1. SAIL.

Pardon us, sir; with us at sea it hath been still observ’d, and we are strong in custom; therefore briefly yield ’er, for she must overboard straight.

PER.

As you think meet. Most wretched queen!

LYC.

Here she lies, sir.

PER.

A terrible child-bed hast thou had, my dear,

No light, no fire. Th’ unfriendly elements

Forgot thee utterly, nor have I time

To give thee hallow’d to thy grave, but straight

Must cast thee, scarcely coffin’d, in the ooze,

Where, for a monument upon thy bones,

The e’er-remaining lamps, the belching whale

And humming water must o’erwhelm thy corpse,

Lying with simple shells. O Lychorida,

Bid Nestor bring me spices, ink and paper,

My casket and my jewels; and bid Nicander

Bring me the satin coffin. Lay the babe

Upon the pillow. Hie thee, whiles I say

A priestly farewell to her. Suddenly, woman.

Exit Lychorida.

2. SAIL.

Sir, we have a chest beneath the hatches, caulk’d and bitum’d ready.

PER.

I thank thee. Mariner, say, what coast is this?

2. SAIL.

We are near Tharsus.

PER.

Thither, gentle mariner,

Alter thy course for Tyre. When canst thou reach it?

1. SAIL.

By break of day, if the wind cease.

PER.

O, make for Tharsus!

There will I visit Cleon, for the babe

Cannot hold out to Tyrus. There I’ll leave it

At careful nursing. Go thy ways, good mariner,

I’ll bring the body presently.

Exeunt.

 
 
 
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