think, to liberty: yet am I better
Than one that’s sick o’ the gout; since he had rather
Groan so in perpetuity than be cured
By the sure physician, death, who is the key
To unbar these locks. My conscience, thou art fetter’d
More than my shanks and wrists: you good gods, give me
The penitent instrument to pick that bolt,
Then, free for ever! Is’t enough I am sorry?
So children temporal fathers do appease;
Gods are more full of mercy. Must I repent?
I cannot do it better than in gyves,
Desired more than constrain’d: to satisfy,
If of my freedom ‘tis the main part, take
No stricter render of me than my all.
I know you are more clement than vile men,
Who of their broken debtors take a third,
A sixth, a tenth, letting them thrive again
On their abatement: that’s not my desire:
For Imogen’s dear life take mine; and though
‘Tis not so dear, yet ‘tis a life; you coin’d it:
‘Tween man and man they weigh not every stamp;
Though light, take pieces for the figure’s sake:
You rather mine, being yours: and so, great powers,
If you will take this audit, take this life,
And cancel these cold bonds. O Imogen!
I’ll speak to thee in silence.
Thy spite on mortal flies:
With Mars fall out, with Juno chide,
That thy adulteries
Rates and revenges.
Hath my poor boy done aught but well,
Whose face I never saw?
I died whilst in the womb he stay’d
Attending nature’s law:
Whose father then, as men report
Thou orphans’ father art,
Thou shouldst have been, and shielded him
From this earth-vexing smart.
Offend our hearing; hush! How dare you ghosts
Accuse the thunderer, whose bolt, you know,
Sky-planted batters all rebelling coasts?
Poor shadows of Elysium, hence, and rest
Upon your never-withering banks of flowers:
Be not with mortal accidents opprest;
No care of yours it is; you know ‘tis ours.
Whom best I love I cross; to make my gift,
The more delay’d, delighted. Be content;
Your low-laid son our godhead will uplift:
His comforts thrive, his trials well are spent.
Our Jovial star reign’d at his birth, and in
Our temple was he married. Rise, and fade.
He shall be lord of lady Imogen,
And happier much by his affliction made.
This tablet lay upon his breast, wherein
Our pleasure his full fortune doth confine:
And so, away: no further with your din
Express impatience, lest you stir up mine.
Mount, eagle, to my palace crystalline.
A father to me; and thou hast created
A mother and two brothers: but, O scorn!
Gone! they went hence so soon as they were born:
And so I am awake. Poor wretches that depend
On greatness’ favour dream as I have done,
Wake and find nothing. But, alas, I swerve:
Many dream not to find, neither deserve,
And yet are steep’d in favours: so am I,
That have this golden chance and know not why.
What fairies haunt this ground? A book? O rare one!
Be not, as is our fangled world, a garment
Nobler than that it covers: let thy effects
So follow, to be most unlike our courtiers,
As good as promise.
“When as a lion’s whelp shall, to himself unknown,
without seeking find, and be embraced by a piece of
tender air; and when from a stately cedar shall be
lopped branches, which, being dead many years,
shall after revive, be jointed to the old stock and
freshly grow; then shall Posthumus end his miseries,
Britain be fortunate and flourish in peace and plenty.”
‘Tis still a dream, or else such stuff as madmen
Tongue and brain not; either both or nothing;
Or senseless speaking or a speaking such
As sense cannot untie. Be what it is,
The action of my life is like it, which
I’ll keep, if but for sympathy.
you shall be called to no more payments, fear no
more tavern-bills; which are often the sadness of
parting, as the procuring of mirth: you come in
flint for want of meat, depart reeling with too
much drink; sorry that you have paid too much, and
sorry that you are paid too much; purse and brain
both empty; the brain the heavier for being too
light, the purse too light, being drawn of
heaviness: of this contradiction you shall now be
quit. O, the charity of a penny cord! It sums up
thousands in a trice: you have no true debitor and
creditor but it; of what’s past, is, and to come,
the discharge: your neck, sir, is pen, book and
counters; so the acquittance follows.
him so pictured: you must either be directed by
some that take upon them to know, or do take upon
yourself that which I am sure you do not know, or
jump the after inquiry on your own peril: and how
you shall speed in your journey’s end, I think you’ll
never return to tell one.
gibbets, I never saw one so prone. Yet, on my
conscience, there are verier knaves desire to live,
for all he be a Roman: and there be some of them
too that die against their wills; so should I, if I
were one. I would we were all of one mind, and one
mind good; O, there were desolation of gaolers and
gallowses! I speak against my present profit, but
my wish hath a preferment in ‘t.