The Two Noble Kinsmen


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V

Music. Enter Hymen with a torch burning; a boy in

a white robe before, singing and strewing flowers;

after Hymen, a nymph, encompassed in her tresses,

bearing a wheaten garland; then Theseus between two

other nymphs with wheaten chaplets on their heads;

then Hippolyta the bride, led by Pirithous, and another

holding a garland over her head, her tresses likewise

hanging; after her, Emilia holding up her train;

then Artesius and attendants


chaplet (n.) garland, wreath

Roses, their sharp spines being gone,

Not royal in their smells alone,

But in their hue,

Maiden pinks, of odour faint,

Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,
quaint (adj.) 4 pretty, attractive, lovely

And sweet thyme true,

Primrose, first-born child of Ver,
Ver (n.) [personification of] spring, springtime

Merry springtime's harbinger,
harbinger (n.) forerunner, herald, precursor

With harebells dim,
dim (adj.) dull, pale-coloured, lacking lustre

Oxlips, in their cradles growing,

Marigolds, on death-beds blowing,
blow (v.) 1 blossom, bloom, flower

Lark's-heels trim,

All dear Nature's children sweet,

Lie 'fore bride and bridegroom's feet,

Blessing their sense.
sense (n.) 1 senses, sensation, organs of sense

He strews flowers

Not an angel of the air,

Bird melodious or bird fair,

Is absent hence;

The crow, the slanderous cuckoo, nor

The boding raven, nor chough hoar,
boding (adj.) ominous, full of foreboding
chough (n.) 1 jackdaw
hoar (adj.) 1 grey-white, hoary

Nor chattering pie,
pie (n.) magpie

May on our bridehouse perch or sing,
bridehouse (n.) house where a wedding is held

Or with them any discord bring,

But from it fly.

Enter three Queens in black, with veils stained, with

imperial crowns. The First Queen falls down at the

foot of Theseus; the Second falls down at the foot of

Hippolyta; the Third before Emilia


For pity's sake and true gentility's,
gentility (n.) 1 nobility, good birth
stained (adj.) 3 dyed black

Hear and respect me!
respect (v.) 1 pay attention to, heed


                         For your mother's sake,

And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,

Hear and respect me!


Now for the love of him whom Jove hath marked

The honour of your bed, and for the sake

Of clear virginity, be advocate
clear (adj.) 1 pure, spotless, faultless

For us and our distresses! This good deed

Shall raze you out o'th' book of trespasses
raze, raze out erase, obliterate, wipe out

All you are set down there


Sad lady, rise.
sad (adj.) 3 downcast, distressed, mournful, gloomy


                         Stand up.


                                                         No knees to me.

What woman I may stead that is distressed
stead (v.) help, assist, benefit

Does bind me to her.
bind (v.), past form bound 2 oblige, make grateful, indebt


What's your request? Deliver you for all.
deliver (v.) 1 report [to], communicate [to], tell, describe
for (prep.) 7 on behalf of


We are three queens, whose sovereigns fell before

The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured

The beaks of ravens, talons of the kites,

And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.

He will not suffer us to burn their bones,

To urn their ashes, nor to take th' offence

Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye

Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds

With stench of our slain lords. O, pity, Duke!

Thou purger of the earth, draw thy feared sword

That does good turns to th' world; give us the bones

Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;

And of thy boundless goodness take some note

That for our crowned heads we have no roof,

Save this which is the lion's and the bear's,

And vault to everything.
vault (n.) 1 roof, covering, ceiling


                         Pray you kneel not;

I was transported with your speech, and suffered
suffer (v.) 1 allow, permit, let
transport (v.) 2 carry away, captivate, enrapture

Your knees to wrong themselves. I have heard the fortunes

Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting

As wakes my vengeance and revenge for 'em.

King Capaneus was your lord; the day

That he should marry you, at such a season

As now it is with me, I met your groom.

By Mars's altar, you were that time fair;

Not Juno's mantle fairer then your tresses,
mantle (n.) 1 loose sleeveless cloak See Topics: Clothing

Nor in more bounty spread her; your wheaten wreath
spread (v.) 1 cover, envelop, enfold

Was then nor threshed nor blasted; Fortune at you
blast (v.) 1 blight, wither, destroy

Dimpled her cheeks with smiles. Hercules our kinsman –

Then weaker than your eyes – laid by his club;

He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide

And swore his sinews thawed. O grief and time,
sinew (n.) 1 muscle
thaw (v.) dissolve, soften, melt

Fearful consumers, you will all devour!


O, I hope some god,

Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,
manhood (n.) manliness, courage, valour

Whereto he'll infuse power, and press you forth
press (v.) 5 urge, compel, spur

Our undertaker.
undertaker (n.) 2 champion, helper, upholder


                         O, no knees, none, widow;

Unto the helmeted Bellona use them,

And pray for me, your soldier; troubled I am.

He turns away


Honoured Hippolyta,

Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain

The scythe-tusked boar, that with thy arm as strong

As it is white wast near to make the male

To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord,

Born to uphold creation in that honour

First Nature styled it in, shrunk thee into
style (v.) 2 appoint, order, assign

The bound thou wast o'erflowing, at once subduing
bound (n.) 1 limit, boundary, confine, barrier

Thy force and thy affection; soldieress,
soldieress (n.) female soldier

That equally canst poise sternness with pity,
poise (v.) balance, weigh, make even

Whom now I know hast much more power on him
power (n.) 7 control, influence, sway

Then ever he had on thee, who owest his strength
owe (v.) 1 own, possess, have See Topics: Frequency count

And his love too, who is a servant for
servant (n.) 1 devotee, one who gives dedicated service, lover

The tenor of thy speech; dear glass of ladies,
glass (n.) 1 mirror, looking-glass See Topics: Frequency count
tenor, tenour (n.) 2 meaning, purpose, intention

Bid him that we whom flaming war doth scorch

Under the shadow of his sword may cool us;

Require him he advance it o'er our heads;
require (v.) 1 request, ask, beg

Speak't in a woman's key, like such a woman
key (n.) 1 tone, voice, style of expression

As any of us three; weep ere you fail.
ere (conj.) 2 rather than

Lend us a knee;

But touch the ground for us no longer time

Then a dove's motion when the head's plucked off;

Tell him, if he i'th' blood-sized field lay swollen,
blood-sized (adj.) blood-soaked, smeared with blood
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count

Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,

What you would do.


                         Poor lady, say no more;

I had as lief trace this good action with you
lief, had as should like just as much See Topics: Frequency count
trace (v.) 1 imitate, pursue, follow in one's footsteps

As that whereto I am going, and never yet

Went I so willing way. My lord is taken

Heart-deep with your distress; let him consider.

I'll speak anon.


(to Emilia)
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

                         O, my petition was

Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied
uncandied (adj.) thawed, dissolved, melted

Melts into drops; so sorrow wanting form
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

Is pressed with deeper matter.
matter (n.) 1 subject-matter, content, substance
press (v.) 4 impress [as a stamp on a coin], imprint, mark


                         Pray stand up;

Your grief is written in your cheek.


                         O woe,

You cannot read it there; there through my tears,

Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,

You may behold 'em. Lady, lady, alack,

He that will all the treasure know o'th' earth

Must know the centre too; he that will fish

For my least minnow, let him lead his line
lead (v.) 1 put lead weights on

To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me!

Extremity that sharpens sundry wits
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)

Makes me a fool.


                         Pray you say nothing, pray you;

Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in't,

Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were

The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you
ground-piece (n.) [unclear meaning] painting used as a teaching-aid

T' instruct me 'gainst a capital grief, indeed
capital (adj.) 2 mortal, deadly, fatal

Such heart-pierced demonstration; but alas,

Being a natural sister of our sex,

Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me
ardently (adv.) burningly, intensely, passionately

That it shall make a counter-reflect 'gainst
counter-reflect (n.) reflection back again

My brother's heart, and warm it to some pity

Though it were made of stone. Pray have good comfort.


Forward to th' temple! Leave not out a jot

O'th' sacred ceremony.


                         O, this celebration

Will longer last and be more costly than

Your suppliants' war. Remember that your fame

Knolls in the ear o'th' world; what you do quickly
knoll (v.) toll, ring, peal

Is not done rashly; your first thought is more

Than others' laboured meditance, your premeditating
meditance (n.) meditation, reflection, contemplation

More than their actions. But O Jove, your actions,

Soon as they move, as ospreys do the fish,

Subdue before they touch. Think, dear Duke, think

What beds our slain kings have.


                         What griefs our beds,

That our dear lords have none.


                         None fit for th' dead.

Those that with cords, knives, drams, precipitance,
dram (n.) 2 [small dose of] poison
precipitance (n.) jumping from a great height, headlong fall

Weary of this world's light, have to themselves

Been death's most horrid agents, human grace

Affords them dust and shadow.


                         But our lords

Lie blistering 'fore the visiting sun,
visitating (adj.) visiting, attending, observing

And were good kings when living.


                         It is true,

And I will give you comfort,

To give your dead lords graves; the which to do

Must make some work with Creon.


                         And that work

Presents itself to th' doing.
present (v.) 2 put forward [for immediate action]

Now 'twill take form; the heats are gone tomorrow.

Then, bootless toil must recompense itself
bootless (adj.) useless, worthless, fruitless, unavailing

With its own sweat; now, he's secure,
secure (adj.) 2 over-confident, unsuspecting, too self-confident

Not dreams we stand before your puissance,
puissance (n.) power, might, force

Rinsing our holy begging in our eyes

To make petition clear.


                         Now you may take him,

Drunk with his victory.


                         And his army full

Of bread and sloth.


                         Artesius, that best knowest

How to draw out fit to this enterprise
draw out (v.) 1 choose, select, find
fit (adj.) 1 suited, fitting, appropriate

The primest for this proceeding, and the number
primest (n./adj.) best, finest, most supreme

To carry such a business, forth and levy
carry (v.) 5 carry out, manage, conduct
forth (adv.) 2 forward

Our worthiest instruments, whilst we dispatch
instrument (n.) 2 agent, servant, retainer

This grand act of our life, this daring deed

Of fate in wedlock.


                         Dowagers, take hands.

Let us be widows to our woes; delay

Commends us to a famishing hope.
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over




We come unseasonably; but when could grief

Cull forth, as unpanged judgement can, fittest time
cull forth (v.) select, pick out, choose
unpanged (adj.) undistracted by pain, untormented

For best solicitation?


                         Why, good ladies,

This is a service, whereto I am going,

Greater than any war; it more imports me
cope, cope with (v.) 1 encounter, face, have to do [with], come into contact [with]
forego (v.) perform before, carry out in the past
import (v.) 2 be of importance to, concern, matter to

Than all the actions that I have foregone
action (n.) 2 engagement, combat, fighting

Or futurely can cope.
futurely (adv.) in the future, hereafter


                         The more proclaiming

Our suit shall be neglected, when her arms,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

Able to lock Jove from a synod, shall
lock (v.) keep captive, keep away, detain
synod (n.) assembly, council, gathering

By warranting moonlight corslet thee; O, when
corslet (v.) hold tightly, embrace [like a corslet = defensive armour]
warrant (v.) 2 authorize, sanction, license

Her twinning cherries shall their sweetness fall
cherries (n.) [metaphor for] lips

Upon thy tasteful lips, what wilt thou think

Of rotten kings or blubbered queens, what care
blubbered (adj.) tear-stained, disfigured with weeping [no comic overtones]

For what thou feelest not, what thou feelest being able

To make Mars spurn his drum? O, if thou couch
couch (v.) 6 lie, sleep, go to bed
spurn (v.) 1 reject, scorn, despise, treat with contempt

But one night with her, every hour in't will

Take hostage of thee for a hundred, and

Thou shalt remember nothing more than what

That banquet bids thee too.


banquet, banket (n.) 2 appetizer, first course, hors d'oeuvres
bid (v.), past form bade 2 invite, ask, entice

                         Though much unlike

You should be so transported, as much sorry
transport (v.) 2 carry away, captivate, enrapture
unlike (adj.) 2 unlikely, improbable, doubtful

I should be such a suitor; yet I think

Did I not by th' abstaining of my joy,

Which breeds a deeper longing, cure their surfeit
surfeit (n.) 2 sickness brought on by excess

That craves a present medicine, I should pluck
crave (v.) 2 need, demand, require
pluck (v.) 1 draw down, bring down

All ladies' scandal on me. Therefore, sir,

As I shall here make trial of my prayers,

Either presuming them to have some force
aye (adv.) always, ever, for eternity

Or sentencing for aye their vigour dumb,

Prorogue this business we are going about, and hang
prorogue (v.) 1 postpone, delay, defer

Your shield afore your heart, about that neck
afore (prep.) 1 before, in front of

Which is my fee, and which I freely lend
fee (n.) 3 possession, property

To do these poor queens service.


(to Emilia)

                         O, help now!

Our cause cries for your knee.



                         If you grant not

My sister her petition in that force,
force (n.) 1 energy, power, conviction

With that celerity and nature which

She makes it in, from henceforth I'll not dare

To ask you anything, nor be so hardy
hardy (adj.) bold, daring, forward

Ever to take a husband.


                         Pray stand up.

I am entreating of myself to do

That which you kneel to have me.

All the ladies rise


Lead on the bride; get you and pray the gods

For success and return; omit not anything

In the pretended celebration. Queens,
pretended (adj.) intended, purposed, proposed

Follow your soldier. (To Artesius) As before, hence you,

And at the banks of Aulis meet us with
bank (n.) 1 coast, shore

The forces you can raise, where we shall find

The moiety of a number for a business
moiety (n.) 1 share, portion, part

More bigger-looked. (To Hippolyta) Since that our theme is haste,

I stamp this kiss upon thy current lip;
current (adj.) 1 [as of a coin] authentic, genuine, valid
stamp (v.) 1 press, impress, coin

(he kisses her)

Sweet, keep it as my token. – Set you forward,

For I will see you gone.

The marriage procession moves towards the temple

Farewell, my beauteous sister. Pirithous,

Keep the feast full, bate not an hour on't.
bate (v.) 4 omit, lose, leave out
full (adv.) 1 fully, completely, properly



I'll follow you at heels; the feast's solemnity
heels, at close behind, in close pursuit
solemnity (n.) 2 ritual, ceremony, celebration

Shall want till your return.
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count


                         Cousin, I charge you,

Budge not from Athens. We shall be returning

Ere you can end this feast, of which I pray you

Make no abatement. Once more, farewell all.
abatement (n.) 1 lessening, decrease, diminution

The procession goes out


Thus dost thou still make good the tongue o'th' world.
make good 1 justify, vindicate, confirm
still (adv.) 2 ever, now [as before]


And earn'st a deity equal with Mars.


If not above him, for

Thou being but mortal makest affections bend
affection (n.) 2 emotion, feeling
bend (v.) 5 give way, bow, submit

To godlike honours; they themselves, some say,

Groan under such a mastery.


                         As we are men,

Thus should we do; being sensually subdued,
subdued (adj.) overcome, overwhelmed, subjugated

We lose our human title. Good cheer, ladies;
title (n.) 1 [legal] right, claim, entitlement

Now turn we towards your comforts.

Flourish. Exeunt

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