Please see the bottom of the page for explanatory notes.
|ACT II SCENE II ||Imogen's bedchamber in Cymbeline's palace.|| |
| ||A trunk in one corner of the room.|| |
| ||IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending.|| |
|IMOGEN ||Who's there? my woman Helen?|| |
|Lady ||Please you, madam|| |
|IMOGEN ||What hour is it?|
|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;|| |
| ||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|| |
| ||Guard me, beseech ye.|| 10|
| ||[ 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|| |
| ||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|| |
| ||Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper|| |
| ||Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,|| 20|
| ||To see the enclosed lights, now canopied|
| ||Under these windows, white and azure laced|| |
| ||With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design,|| |
| ||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,|| |
| ||Above ten thousand meaner moveables|| |
| ||Would testify, to enrich mine inventory.|| 30|
| ||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:|| |
| ||[ 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|| |
| ||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|| 40|
| ||Will force him think I have pick'd the lock and ta'en|
| ||The treasure of her honour. No more. To what end?|| |
| ||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.|| |
| ||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!|
| ||[ Goes into the trunk. Scene closes.|| |
Cymbeline, Act 2, Scene 3
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 2
From Cymbeline. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press.
We have here a good illustration how a change of scene was indicated in the Elizabethan theatre by the simple expedient of pushing on the stage, or taking off, some movable piece of furniture, like a bed or a "bank" of flowers (Hamlet, III. 2. 146, stage-direction). The Folio, which does not mark changes of scene like modern texts, has the stage-direction, "Enter Imogen, in her Bed." "This abrupt method of changing the scene was often employed to indicate a bed-room" -- Shakespeare's England, 1916, II. 270. The study of stage-directions is a feature of modern Shakespearean scholarship. They throw much light on the actual production of plays in the Elizabethan theatre.
1. Brutus reading in his tent before the ghost of Caesar appears (Julius Caesar, IV. 3. 273, 274, 276).
5. Lady Macbeth (V. 1) in the sleep-walking scene.
11-14. Macbeth, II. 1. 55 ; II. 2. 16.
the rushes; with which, of course, Elizabethan floors were strewn. It is scarcely necessary to refer to Shakespeare's own poem Lucrece.
14. Likening her to Venus ("Cytherea," from Cythera, one of the Ionian Islands, sacred to Venus).
18. do't, i.e. kiss each other. They (emphatic), the lips, do that which he dare not attempt.
22, 23. Macbeth again (II. 3. 118), but with a pleasanter context; see also IV. 222.
26. arras, tapestry hangings on the walls.
27. the story, i.e. represented on the arras; we learn later what it was (II. 4. 69-76).
34. Gordian; see Glossary.
37, 38. From Boccaccio.
38, 39. crimson drops ... cowslip. The Fairy sings in A Midsummer Night's Dream, II. 1. 6-13:
"I do wander every where,
45. It is thought that Shakespeare himself read the story (see Titus Andronicus, IV. 1. 42-49) of Tereus and Procne in the translation (bk. vi.) of Ovid's Metamorphoses by Arthur Golding. This has been described as "one of Shakespeare's best-loved books in youth." To it he owed much of his classical lore in general; with certain special items, such as the "interlude" of "Pyramus and Thisbe" (Midsummer-N. D.), the ingredients of the Witches' cauldron in Macbeth IV. 1, and "Ye elves of hills" passage in The Tempest, V. 33.
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green.
The cowslips tall her pensioners be:
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savors."
48. you dragons of the night. So Puck warns Oberon (Midsummer-N. D.) III. 2. 378-380:
"My fairy lord, this must be done with haste,
In classical writers only Demeter (or Ceres), goddess of the Earth, is represented as being drawn in her chariot by dragons (i.e. winged serpents, supposed not to sleep); cf. Ovid, Fasti, IV. 497, 561, 562.
The chariot of Night (personified) is yoked with horses; cf. Statius,
Thebais, II. 60, sopor obvius illi, Noctis agebat equos. So Milton speaks of "the Night-steeds," Nativity Ode, 236. Minute accuracy in such matters is not to be required of a poet. Milton often varies mythology to suit his purpose; for instance, he gives the Moon a dragon-team (Il Penseroso, 59, 60, Comus, 131). The word dragon comes from a root 'to see.'
For Night's swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger."
49. bare, lay bare, open; one of Theobald's changes; the Folio has beare, only a difference of one letter. The raven was supposed
to be a very early bird. Iachimo prays for daylight, so that he may
50. hell is here; explained surely by "I lodge in fear." His sense of the danger of his situation is put in an exaggerated form simply to get the antithesis with the first part of the line. The idea that he is suddenly conscience-stricken and means his own breast by here seems to me fantastic.
Clock strikes; and its time, as the vigilant Malone observes, does not agree very well with line 2. But no one marks these discrepancies till they are pointed out.
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Cymbeline. Ed. A.W. Verity. Cambridge, University Press, 1899. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_2_2.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 10 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/cymbel_2_2.html >.
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