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Cymbeline, King of Britain

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Act II, Scene 2

Imogen’s bedchamber in Cymbeline’s palace:


a trunk in one corner of it.

[IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending]

  • Imogen. Who's there? my woman Helen?
  • Lady. Please you, madam 920
  • Lady. Almost midnight, madam.
  • Imogen. 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; 925
    And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,
    I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly
    [Exit Lady]
    To your protection I commend me, gods.
    From fairies and the tempters of the night 930
    Guard me, beseech ye.

[Sleeps. IACHIMO comes from the trunk]

  • Iachimo. The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense
    Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus
    Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd 935
    The chastity he wounded. Cytherea,
    How bravely thou becomest 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 940
    Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper
    Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,
    To see the enclosed lights, now canopied
    Under these windows, white and azure laced
    With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design, 945
    To note the chamber: I will write all down:
    Such and such pictures; there the window; such
    The adornment of her bed; the arras; figures,
    Why, such and such; and the contents o' the story.
    Ah, but some natural notes about her body, 950
    Above ten thousand meaner moveables
    Would testify, to 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: 955
    [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 the madding of her lord. On her left breast 960
    A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops
    I' the 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 honour. No more. To what end? 965
    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 Philomel gave up. I have enough:
    To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it. 970
    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! 975

[Goes into the trunk. The scene closes]