This page contains the original text of Pericles Act 3, Prologue. Shakespeare’s original Pericles text is extremely long, so we’ve split the text into one Scene per page. All Acts are listed on the Pericles text page, or linked to from the bottom of this page.
Pericles, Act 3, Prologue
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.
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.
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