The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Enter Palamon and his knights pinioned, with Gaoler,

executioner, and a guard of soldiers


There's many a man alive that hath outlived

The love o'th' people; yea, i'th' selfsame state

Stands many a father with his child; some comfort

We have by so considering. We expire,

And not without men's pity; to live still,

Have their good wishes. We prevent
prevent (v.) 1 forestall, anticipate

The loathsome misery of age, beguile

The gout and rheum, that in lag hours attend
attend (v.) 4 accompany, follow closely, go with
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count
beguile (v.) 1 cheat, deceive, trick
lag (adj.) 1 late-coming, last, closing
rheum (n.) 3 catarrh, headcold, coughing and spluttering

For grey approachers; we come towards the gods
approacher (n.) one who approaches
grey (adj.) 1 aged, senescent, very old

Young and unwappered, not halting under crimes
crime (n.) 1 sin, offence, wrong-doing
halt (v.) limp, proceed lamely
unwappered (adj.) unexhausted, fresh, energetic

Many and stale; that sure shall please the gods
stale (adj.) 1 ancient, long-standing, antiquated

Sooner than such, to give us nectar with 'em,

For we are more clear spirits. My dear kinsmen,
clear (adj.) 1 pure, spotless, faultless

Whose lives for this poor comfort are laid down,

You have sold 'em too too cheap.


                         What ending could be

Of more content? O'er us the victors have
content (n.) 1 pleasure, satisfaction, happiness

Fortune, whose title is as momentary
title (n.) 2 possession, lordship, dominion

As to us death is certain; a grain of honour

They not o'erweigh us.
overweigh (v.) outweigh, exceed, prevail over


                         Let us bid farewell,

And with our patience anger tottering fortune,
tottering (adj.) 1 wavering, vacillating, fluctuating

Who at her certain'st reels.
certain (adj.) 2 steady, settled, fixed
reel (v.) waver, become unsteady, turn suddenly


                         Come, who begins?


E'en he that led you to this banquet shall

Taste to you all. (To Gaoler) Aha, my friend, my friend,

Your gentle daughter gave me freedom once;
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

You'll see't done now for ever. Pray, how does she?

I heard she was not well; her kind of ill
ill (n.) 3 illness, malady, affliction
ill (n.) 2 trouble, affliction, misfortune

Gave me some sorrow.


                         Sir, she's well restored,

And to be married shortly.


                         By my short life,

I am most glad on't; 'tis the latest thing
latest (adj.) last, final

I shall be glad of. Prithee tell her so;

Commend me to her, and to piece her portion
commend (v.) 1 convey greetings, present kind regards See Topics: Frequency count
piece (v.) 2 complete, make up, improve
portion (n.) 1 dowry, marriage gift, settlement

Tender her this.

He gives Gaoler his purse
tender (v.) 1 offer, give, present


                         Nay, let's be offerers all.


Is it a maid?
maid (n.) 2 virgin, unmarried woman
verily (adv.) in truth, truly, indeed See Topics: Swearing


                         Verily I think so;

A right good creature, more to me deserving
deserving (adj.) deserving of gratitude, meritorious

Than I can quite or speak of.
quite (v.) [= requite] reward, repay, recompense


                         Commend us to her.

They give their purses


The gods requite you all, and make her thankful.


Adieu; and let my life be now as short

As my leave-taking.


                         Lead, courageous cousin.


We'll follow cheerfully.

Palamon lies on the block. A great noise within, crying

‘ Run! Save! Hold!’ Enter in haste a Messenger


Hold, hold, O hold, hold, hold!
hold (v.) 8 stop, cease, hold on

Enter Pirithous in haste


Hold, ho! It is a cursed haste you made

If you have done so quickly. Noble Palamon,

The gods will show their glory in a life

That thou art yet to lead.


                         Can that be, when

Venus I have said is false? How do things fare?
false (adj.) 7 unfair, unjust, double-crossing
fare (v.) 2 go, happen, turn out


Arise, great sir, and give the tidings ear

That are most early sweet and bitter.
early (adv.) at the outset, at first hearing



Hath waked us from our dream?
list (v.) 2 listen


                         List then. Your cousin,

Mounted upon a steed that Emily

Did first bestow on him, a black one, owing
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count

Not a hair-worth of white, which some will say
hair-worth (n.) hair's worth

Weakens his price, and many will not buy
price (n.) value, worth, importance
weaken (v.) lower, reduce, lessen

His goodness with this note – which superstition
note (n.) 3 characteristic, trait, distinctive feature

Here finds allowance – on this horse is Arcite
allowance (n.) 1 acknowledgement, admission, confirmation

Trotting the stones of Athens, which the calkins
calkin (n.) raised edge of a horse-shoe [which prevents the horse slipping]

Did rather tell than trample, for the horse
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize

Would make his length a mile, if't pleased his rider
length (n.) 2 stride, distance [in leaping]

To put pride in him. As he thus went counting

The flinty pavement, dancing as 'twere to th' music

His own hooves made – for, as they say, from iron

Came music's origin – what envious flint,
envious (adj.) malicious, spiteful, vindictive, full of enmity See Topics: Frequency count

Cold as old Saturn and like him possessed

With fire malevolent, darted a spark,

Or what fierce sulphur else, to this end made,
sulphur (n.) 1 fire, fiery substance, hellfire

I comment not; the hot horse, hot as fire,
comment (v.) 1 speculate, conjecture, give an opinion

Took toy at this, and fell to what disorder
fall to (v.) begin to do, abandon oneself to
toy (n.) 5 foolish dislike, silly aversion

His power could give his will – bounds, comes on end,
end, an / on upright, vertical
power (n.) 4 force, strength, might

Forgets school-doing, being therein trained
school-doing (n.) training, instruction, discipline

And of kind manage; pig-like he whines
manage (n.) 1 management, handling, control [especially of a horse, as a result of training]

At the sharp rowel, which he frets at rather
rowel (n.) small sharp wheel at the end of a spur

Than any jot obeys; seeks all foul means

Of boisterous and rough jadery to disseat
disseat, dis-seat (v.) 1 unseat, throw, remove
jadery (n.) behaviour typical of an ill-tempered hack

His lord, that kept it bravely. When naught served,
bravely (adv.) 1 splendidly, worthily, excellently
serve (v.) 4 be of use, render service, be an advantage [to]

When neither curb would crack, girth break, nor differing plunges
curb (n.) controlling chain or strap passed under a horse's jaw; check, restraint
differing (adj.) different, varying, diverse
girth (n.) 2 saddle-securing belt around the body of a horse

Disroot his rider whence he grew, but that
disroot (v.) dislodge, displace, remove

He kept him 'tween his legs, on his hind hooves

On end he stands,
end, an / on upright, vertical

That Arcite's legs, being higher than his head,

Seemed with strange art to hang; his victor's wreath

Even then fell off his head; and presently
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Backward the jade comes o'er, and his full poise
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag
poise (n.) 2 weight, heaviness, load

Becomes the rider's load. Yet is he living;

But such a vessel 'tis that floats but for

The surge that next approaches. He much desires

To have some speech with you. Lo, he appears.

Enter Theseus, Hippolyta, Emilia, and Arcite carried

in a chair


O miserable end of our alliance!
alliance (n.) 1 kinship, relationship, friendship

The gods are mighty. Arcite, if thy heart,

Thy worthy, manly heart, be yet unbroken,

Give me thy last words. I am Palamon,

One that yet loves thee dying.


                         Take Emilia,

And with her all the world's joy; reach thy hand.

Farewell; I have told my last hour. I was false,
false (adj.) 2 disloyal, faithless, inconstant, unfaithful
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize

Yet never treacherous; forgive me, cousin.

One kiss from fair Emilia –

She kisses him

                         'Tis done.

Take her; I die.

He dies
brave (adj.) 2 noble, worthy, excellent


                         Thy brave soul seek Elysium!


I'll close thine eyes, prince; blessed souls be with thee!

Thou art a right good man, and while I live

This day I give to tears.


                         And I to honour.


In this place first you fought; e'en very here

I sundered you. Acknowledge to the gods
sunder (v.) 1 separate, split up, part

Your thanks that you are living.

His part is played, and though it were too short

He did it well; your day is lengthened, and

The blissful dew of heaven does arrouse you.
arrouse (v.) sprinkle, bedew, water

The powerful Venus well hath graced her altar,

And given you your love; our master Mars

Hath vouched his oracle, and to Arcite gave
vouch (v.) 1 make good, uphold, support

The grace of the contention; so the deities
contention (n.) quarrel, dispute, strife
grace (n.) 7 success, favourable outcome, fortune

Have showed due justice. Bear this hence.


                         O cousin,

That we should things desire which do cost us

The loss of our desire! That naught could buy

Dear love but loss of dear love!


                         Never fortune

Did play a subtler game: the conquered triumphs,

The victor has the loss; yet in the passage
passage (n.) 7 combat, contest, fight [= passage of arms]

The gods have been most equal. Palamon,
equal (adj.) 1 fair, equitable, evenhanded

Your kinsman hath confessed the right o'th' lady

Did lie in you, for you first saw her, and

Even then proclaimed your fancy; he restored her
fancy (n.) 1 love, amorousness, infatuation

As your stolen jewel, and desired your spirit

To send him hence forgiven. The gods my justice

Take from my hand, and they themselves become

The executioners. Lead your lady off;

And call your lovers from the stage of death,
lover (n.) companion, comrade, dear friend
stage (n.) platform, dais, stand

Whom I adopt my friends. A day or two

Let us look sadly, and give grace unto

The funeral of Arcite, in whose end

The visages of bridegrooms we'll put on
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count
visage (n.) 2 outward appearance, aspect, air

And smile with Palamon; for whom an hour,

But one hour since, I was as dearly sorry

As glad of Arcite, and am now as glad

As for him sorry. O you heavenly charmers,
charmer (n.) enchanter/enchantress, worker of charms
heavenly (adj.) 2 divine, celestial

What things you make of us! For what we lack

We laugh; for what we have are sorry; still

Are children in some kind. Let us be thankful

For that which is, and with you leave dispute
dispute (n.) disputation, argument, debate

That are above our question. Let's go off,
question (n.) 5 questioning, interrogation, examination

And bear us like the time.
bear (v.), past forms bore, borne 1 behave, look, conduct [oneself]

Flourish. Exeunt.

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