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Pericles :: Scenes :: Pericles: Act III Prologue

Prologue

(Gower; Pericles; Simonides; Attendants; Second Tyrian Messenger; Lords; Thaisa; Lychorida)

Gower tells the audience of Pericles’s marriage to Thaisa, and that they conceive a child on their wedding night. In dumb-show, Pericles is seen receiving another message. Gower explains that it is from Helicanus, telling of Antiochus’s death and the mutiny of the Tyrian lords. Freed from the fear of assassination, Pericles can at last reveal his regal identity, to the joy of all Pentapolis. To calm Tyre down, however, he must return there, and Thaisa insists on following. Gower tells that as they cross the sea, they are caught in a wild storm. ( line)

Enter Gower.

GOW.

Now sleep yslacked hath the rout,

No din but snores the house about,

Made louder by the o’erfed breast

Of this most pompous marriage-feast.

The cat, with eyne of burning coal,

Now couches from the mouse’s hole;

And crickets sing at the oven’s mouth,

Are the blither for their drouth.

Hymen hath brought the bride to bed,

Where, by the loss of maidenhead,

A babe is moulded. Be attent,

And time that is so briefly spent

With your fine fancies quaintly eche:

What’s dumb in show I’ll plain with speech.

Dumb Show.

Enter Pericles and Simonides, at one door, with Attendants. The Second Tyrian Messenger meets them, kneels, and gives Pericles a letter. Pericles shows it Simonides; the Lords kneel to him. Then enter Thaisa with child, with Lychorida, a nurse. The King shows her the letter; she rejoices. She and Pericles take leave of her father, and depart with Lychorida and their Attendants. Then exeunt Simonides and the rest.

By many a dern and painful perch,

Of Pericles the careful search,

By the four opposing coigns

Which the world together joins,

Is made with all due diligence

That horse and sail and high expense

Can stead the quest. At last from Tyre,

Fame answering the most strange inquire,

To th’ court of King Simonides

Are letters brought, the tenor these:

Antiochus and his daughter dead,

The men of Tyrus on the head

Of Helicanus would set on

The crown of Tyre, but he will none.

The mutiny he there hastes t’ oppress,

Says to ’em, if King Pericles

Come not home in twice six moons,

He, obedient to their dooms,

Will take the crown. The sum of this,

Brought hither to Pentapolis,

Yravished the regions round,

And every one with claps can sound,

“Our heir-apparent is a king!

Who dreamt? Who thought of such a thing?”

Brief, he must hence depart to Tyre:

His queen, with child, makes her desire—

Which who shall cross?—along to go.

Omit we all their dole and woe.

Lychorida, her nurse, she takes,

And so to sea. Their vessel shakes

On Neptune’s billow; half the flood

Hath their keel cut. But fortune, mov’d,

Varies again; the grisled north

Disgorges such a tempest forth,

That, as a duck for life that dives,

So up and down the poor ship drives.

The lady shrieks, and well-a-near

Does fall in travail with her fear;

And what ensues in this fell storm

Shall for itself itself perform.

I nill relate, action may

Conveniently the rest convey,

Which might not what by me is told.

In your imagination hold

This stage the ship, upon whose deck

The seas-toss’d Pericles appears to speak.

Exit.

 
 
 
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