Open Source Shakespeare

Pericles, Prince of Tyre

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[Enter GOWER]

  • Gower. To sing a song that old was sung,
    From ashes ancient Gower is come;
    Assuming man's infirmities,
    To glad your ear, and please your eyes. 5
    It hath been sung at festivals,
    On ember-eves and holy-ales;
    And lords and ladies in their lives
    Have read it for restoratives:
    The purchase is to make men glorious; 10
    Et bonum quo antiquius, eo melius.
    If you, born in these latter times,
    When wit's more ripe, accept my rhymes.
    And that to hear an old man sing
    May to your wishes pleasure bring 15
    I life would wish, and that I might
    Waste it for you, like taper-light.
    This Antioch, then, Antiochus the Great
    Built up, this city, for his chiefest seat:
    The fairest in all Syria, 20
    I tell you what mine authors say:
    This king unto him took a fere,
    Who died and left a female heir,
    So buxom, blithe, and full of face,
    As heaven had lent her all his grace; 25
    With whom the father liking took,
    And her to incest did provoke:
    Bad child; worse father! to entice his own
    To evil should be done by none:
    But custom what they did begin 30
    Was with long use account no sin.
    The beauty of this sinful dame
    Made many princes thither frame,
    To seek her as a bed-fellow,
    In marriage-pleasures play-fellow: 35
    Which to prevent he made a law,
    To keep her still, and men in awe,
    That whoso ask'd her for his wife,
    His riddle told not, lost his life:
    So for her many a wight did die, 40
    As yon grim looks do testify.
    What now ensues, to the judgment of your eye
    I give, my cause who best can justify.