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Cymbeline Scenes

Scene 2

Britain. Imogen’s bedchamber in Cymbeline’s palace.

(Imogen; Helen; Jachimo)

Imogen is reading in bed. Once she falls asleep, Jachimo steals out of the trunk. He notes the contents of the room, intimate details of her body, and takes off her bracelet. Then he returns to the trunk. (53 lines)

Enter Imogen in her bed, and a Lady. A trunk in one corner.


Who’s there? My woman? Helen?


Please you, madam.


What hour is it?


Almost midnight, madam.


I have read three hours then. Mine eyes are weak.

Fold down the leaf where I have left. To bed.

Take not away the taper, leave it burning;

And if thou canst awake by four o’ th’ clock,

I prithee call me. Sleep hath seiz’d me wholly.

Exit Helen.

To your protection I commend me, gods,

From fairies and the tempters of the night

Guard me, beseech ye.

Imogen sleeps.

Jachimo from the trunk.


The crickets sing, and man’s o’erlabor’d sense

Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus

Did softly press the rushes ere he waken’d

The chastity he wounded. Cytherea,

How bravely thou becom’st thy bed! Fresh lily,

And whiter than the sheets! That I might touch!

But kiss, one kiss! Rubies unparagon’d,

How dearly they do’t! ’Tis her breathing that

Perfumes the chamber thus. The flame o’ th’ taper

Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,

To see th’ enclosed lights, now canopied

Under these windows, white and azure lac’d

With blue of heaven’s own tinct. But my design!

To note the chamber, I will write all down:

Takes out his tables.

Such and such pictures; there the window; such

Th’ adornment of her bed; the arras, figures,

Why, such and such; and the contents o’ th’ story.

Ah, but some natural notes about her body,

Above ten thousand meaner moveables

Would testify, t’ enrich mine inventory.

O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her,

And be her sense but as a monument,

Thus in a chapel lying! Come off, come off;

Taking off her bracelet.

As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard!

’Tis mine, and this will witness outwardly,

As strongly as the conscience does within,

To th’ madding of her lord. On her left breast

A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops

I’ th’ bottom of a cowslip. Here’s a voucher,

Stronger than ever law could make; this secret

Will force him think I have pick’d the lock and ta’en

The treasure of her honor. No more: to what end?

Why should I write this down that’s riveted,

Screw’d to my memory? She hath been reading late

The tale of Tereus; here the leaf’s turn’d down

Where Philomele gave up. I have enough;

To th’ trunk again, and shut the spring of it.

Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning

May bare the raven’s eye! I lodge in fear;

Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.

Clock strikes.

One, two, three: time, time!

Exit into the trunk.


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