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Cymbeline

Cymbeline Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter PISANIO and IMOGEN

IMOGEN

Thou told'st me, when we came from horse, the place Was near at hand: ne'er long'd my mother so To see me first, as I have now. Pisanio! man! Where is Posthumus? What is in thy mind, That makes thee stare thus? Wherefore breaks that sigh From the inward of thee? One, but painted thus, Would be interpreted a thing perplex'd Beyond self-explication: put thyself Into a havior of less fear, ere wildness Vanquish my staider senses. What's the matter? Why tender'st thou that paper to me, with A look untender? If't be summer news, Smile to't before; if winterly, thou need'st But keep that countenance still. My husband's hand! That drug-damn'd Italy hath out-craftied him, And he's at some hard point. Speak, man: thy tongue May take off some extremity, which to read Would be even mortal to me.

IMOGEN

You told me, when we got off the horses, that we were almost there. My mother never wanted to see me as much before I was born as I want to see my husband now. Pisanio! My man! Where is Posthumus? What is it you're thinking that makes you stare like that? Why are you sighing? A painting of someone making that face would be described as someone helplessly confused. Look less afraid, or I'll get scared. What's the matter? Why are you handing me that paper with such a mean look? If it's good news, smile. If it's bad, just keep looking the way you do now. My husband's handwriting! Poisonous Italy has done something bad to him, and he's in trouble. Speak! You might be able to tell me bad news in a kind way that would make it seem less bad, even if reading it would kill me.

PISANIO

Please you, read;And you shall find me, wretched man, a thingThe most disdain'd of fortune.

PISANIO

Please, read this. You'll find out I'm the most unlucky man in the world.

IMOGEN

[Reads] 'Thy mistress, Pisanio, hath played the strumpet in my bed; the testimonies whereof lie bleeding in me. I speak not out of weak surmises, but from proof as strong as my grief and as certain as I expect my revenge. That part thou, Pisanio, must act for me, if thy faith be not tainted with the breach of hers. Let thine own hands take away her life: I shall give thee opportunity at Milford-Haven. She hath my letter for the purpose where, if thou fear to strike and to make me certain it is done, thou art the pandar to her dishonour and equally to me disloyal.'

IMOGEN

[Reading the letter] "Your mistress, Pisanio, was unfaithful to me. I have proof of this that is very painful to me. I'm not saying this based on weak guesswork, but based on proof as strong as my grief and as certain as my revenge. You'll have to get that revenge for me, Pisanio, unless you're also betraying me along with her. Kill her with your own hands. I will give you an opportunity at Milford-Haven. She has my letter setting this up. If you are too afraid to attack her and tell me it's been done, you're a pimp for her and as disloyal to me as she is."

PISANIO

What shall I need to draw my sword? the paper Hath cut her throat already. No, 'tis slander, Whose edge is sharper than the sword, whose tongue Outvenoms all the worms of Nile, whose breath Rides on the posting winds and doth belie All corners of the world: kings, queens and states, Maids, matrons, nay, the secrets of the grave This viperous slander enters. What cheer, madam?

PISANIO

I don't even need to draw my sword. This letter has already cut her throat. No, slander did, which has an edge sharper than a sword, a tongue more poisonous than all the snakes in the Nile, and a voice that rides on the winds and spreads lies to all the corners of the world. Slander reaches kings, queens, all royals, unmarried women, wives, and even gets into graves to lie about the dead. How are you feeling, ma'am? 

IMOGEN

False to his bed! What is it to be false? To lie in watch there and to think on him? To weep 'twixt clock and clock? if sleep charge nature, To break it with a fearful dream of him And cry myself awake? that's false to's bed, is it?

IMOGEN

Unfaithful to him? What does it mean to be unfaithful? To lie awake in bed and think about him? To weep for an hour? If I fall asleep, to have a nightmare about him and wake up crying? Is that being unfaithful to him?

PISANIO

Alas, good lady!

PISANIO

Poor lady!

IMOGEN

I false! Thy conscience witness: Iachimo, Thou didst accuse him of incontinency; Thou then look'dst like a villain; now methinks Thy favour's good enough. Some jay of Italy Whose mother was her painting, hath betray'd him: Poor I am stale, a garment out of fashion; And, for I am richer than to hang by the walls, I must be ripp'd:—to pieces with me!— O, Men's vows are women's traitors! All good seeming, By thy revolt, O husband, shall be thought Put on for villany; not born where't grows, But worn a bait for ladies.

IMOGEN

Me, unfaithful! You should be ashamed. Iachimo, you accused him of being unfaithful. You seemed like a bad man to me then, but now you seem fine. Some loose woman in Italy, who had no mother except her makeup, lied to him. I'm out of date now, like clothes that are out of fashion. Because I'm too expensive a piece of clothing to use to pad walls, I have to be ripped to pieces! Oh, men's promises betray women! Now, because of your betrayal, husband, all men who seem good will be assumed to be lying for some  criminal purpose, their good qualities not natural to them but just bait to catch women.

PISANIO

Good madam, hear me.

PISANIO

Ma'am, listen to me.

IMOGEN

True honest men being heard, like false Aeneas, Were in his time thought false, and Sinon's weeping Did scandal many a holy tear, took pity From most true wretchedness: so thou, Posthumus, Wilt lay the leaven on all proper men; Goodly and gallant shall be false and perjured From thy great fall. Come, fellow, be thou honest: Do thou thy master's bidding: when thou see'st him, A little witness my obedience: look! I draw the sword myself: take it, and hit The innocent mansion of my love, my heart; Fear not; 'tis empty of all things but grief; Thy master is not there, who was indeed The riches of it: do his bidding; strike Thou mayst be valiant in a better cause; But now thou seem'st a coward.

IMOGEN

After Aeneas betrayed his lover, honest men were assumed to be lying. Sinon's fake crying slandered many people's real tears, and made people not feel pity for actual sadness. You, Posthumus, will infect all honest men with your wickedness. Good, gallant men will be seen as lying and unfaithful after your terrible failure. Come on, Pisanio, be a good servant and do what your master told you to. When you see him, tell him a little about how obedient I was. Look! I'm taking out the sword myself. Take it, and hit the innocent house of of my love, my heart. Don't be afraid. It's empty of anything but sadness. Your master is not there, and he was the only treasure in it. Do as he says. Stab me. You might be brave when you're asked to do something better than this, but now you seem like a coward.

PISANIO

Hence, vile instrument!Thou shalt not damn my hand.

PISANIO

[Throwing the sword away] Go away, terrible object! You won't damn my hand.

IMOGEN

Why, I must die; And if I do not by thy hand, thou art No servant of thy master's. Against self-slaughter There is a prohibition so divine That cravens my weak hand. Come, here's my heart. Something's afore't. Soft, soft! we'll no defence; Obedient as the scabbard. What is here? The scriptures of the loyal Leonatus, All turn'd to heresy? Away, away, Corrupters of my faith! you shall no more Be stomachers to my heart. Thus may poor fools Believe false teachers: though those that are betray'd Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor Stands in worse case of woe. And thou, Posthumus, thou that didst set up My disobedience 'gainst the king my father And make me put into contempt the suits Of princely fellows, shalt hereafter find It is no act of common passage, but A strain of rareness: and I grieve myself To think, when thou shalt be disedged by her That now thou tirest on, how thy memory Will then be pang'd by me. Prithee, dispatch: The lamb entreats the butcher: where's thy knife? Thou art too slow to do thy master's bidding, When I desire it too.

IMOGEN

I have to die. If you don't do it, you can't be called your master's servant. It's such a terrible sin to kill yourself that I'm too afraid to do it. Come on, here's my heart. There's something in front of it. No, wait! There should be nothing protecting it. I'm as willing to have a sword put in me as a scabbard is. What's in here? The holy writings of Leonatus, which have turned out to be unholy? Go away, go away, you're tempting me to sin! I won't wear you over my heart anymore! Foolish people believe liars so easily. Although the people who are betrayed pay the consequences of the betrayal, the betrayer is in an even worse situation. You, Posthumus, you made me disobey the king my father and made me reject the proposals of princes of my own class. You'll find out soon enough that not everyone would do these things. I'm sad to think that when the woman you're with now dumps you, you'll remember me and feel sad. Go on, do it. The lamb is begging the butcher to kill it. Where's your knife? You're too slow to do what your master wants even though I want it too.

PISANIO

O gracious lady,Since I received command to do this businessI have not slept one wink.

PISANIO

Good lady, ever since I was ordered to do this I haven't slept a wink.

IMOGEN

Do't, and to bed then.

IMOGEN

Do it, then go to bed.

PISANIO

I'll wake mine eye-balls blind first.

PISANIO

I'd rather stay awake until I was blind.

IMOGEN

Wherefore then Didst undertake it? Why hast thou abused So many miles with a pretence? this place? Mine action and thine own? our horses' labour? The time inviting thee? the perturb'd court, For my being absent? whereunto I never Purpose return. Why hast thou gone so far, To be unbent when thou hast ta'en thy stand, The elected deer before thee?

IMOGEN

Then why did you start this? Why did you lie to me to get me to come so many miles? To this place? Why did we do all this? Why make our horses work so hard? Why wait so long? Why let the court get upset about my absence? I'll never go back there. Why have you gone this far, just to change your mind when you were about to do it, and your victim was in front of you like a deer you were hunting? 

PISANIO

But to win time To lose so bad employment; in the which I have consider'd of a course. Good lady, Hear me with patience.

PISANIO

Just to win some time to think about how to get out of doing this terrible thing. And I've thought of something in that time. Listen to me patiently.

IMOGEN

Talk thy tongue weary; speak I have heard I am a strumpet; and mine ear Therein false struck, can take no greater wound, Nor tent to bottom that. But speak.

IMOGEN

Talk as much as you want, go on. I have read that I am a prostitute, and my ear, injured by that lie, can't be wounded any more than that, or cured. But talk.

PISANIO

Then, madam,I thought you would not back again.

PISANIO

Then, ma'am, I thought you wouldn't go back.

IMOGEN

Most like;Bringing me here to kill me.

IMOGEN

That makes sense, since you were bringing me here to kill me.

PISANIO

Not so, neither: But if I were as wise as honest, then My purpose would prove well. It cannot be But that my master is abused: Some villain, ay, and singular in his art. Hath done you both this cursed injury.

PISANIO

No, not at all. But if I'm as wise as I am honest, this plan will end well. My master must have been lied to. Some criminal, really good at doing what he does, has told this lie about you.

IMOGEN

Some Roman courtezan.

IMOGEN

Some Roman prostitute.

PISANIO

No, on my life. I'll give but notice you are dead and send him Some bloody sign of it; for 'tis commanded I should do so: you shall be miss'd at court, And that will well confirm it.

PISANIO

No, I promise. I'll tell him you are dead and send him some blood-covered thing to prove it, because that's what he's ordered me to do. Your absence at court will be noticed, and that will make it seem true.

IMOGEN

Why good fellow, What shall I do the while? where bide? how live? Or in my life what comfort, when I am Dead to my husband?

IMOGEN

My good man, what will I do in all that time? Where will I live? How will I support myself? And how will I be able to stand my life, when my husband wants me dead?

PISANIO

If you'll back to the court—

PISANIO

If you want to go back to the court—

IMOGEN

No court, no father; nor no more ado With that harsh, noble, simple nothing, That Cloten, whose love-suit hath been to me As fearful as a siege.

IMOGEN

No court, no father. And I don't want to deal anymore with that mean, noble, stupid, no one, Cloten, whose attempt to win me over was as terrible as being attacked.

PISANIO

If not at court,Then not in Britain must you bide.

PISANIO

If you don't want to go back to court, you shouldn't stay in Britain.

IMOGEN

Where then Hath Britain all the sun that shines? Day, night, Are they not but in Britain? I' the world's volume Our Britain seems as of it, but not in 't; In a great pool a swan's nest: prithee, think There's livers out of Britain.

IMOGEN

Then where should I go? Is Britain the only place where sun shines? Is it the only place with day and night? Compared to the whole world, Britain seems like part of it but separate from it. It's like a swan's nest in a huge lake. Please, remember there are people who live outside of Britain.

PISANIO

I am most glad You think of other place. The ambassador, Lucius the Roman, comes to Milford-Haven To-morrow: now, if you could wear a mind Dark as your fortune is, and but disguise That which, to appear itself, must not yet be But by self-danger, you should tread a course Pretty and full of view; yea, haply, near The residence of Posthumus; so nigh at least That though his actions were not visible, yet Report should render him hourly to your ear As truly as he moves.

PISANIO

I am glad you're thinking about other countries. The Roman ambassador, Lucius, is coming to Milford-Haven tomorrow. If you could be secretive given your bad situation, and wear a disguise because your real appearance could only put you in danger, you could go where you want to go safely. Yes, you could even end up next to where Posthumus is staying. Close enough at least that although you couldn't see him, you would hear every hour about whatever he was doing.

IMOGEN

O, for such means!Though peril to my modesty, not death on't,I would adventure.

IMOGEN

What wouldn't I do for that information! This puts my reputation in danger, but it isn't necessarily deadly to it.

PISANIO

Well, then, here's the point: You must forget to be a woman; change Command into obedience: fear and niceness— The handmaids of all women, or, more truly, Woman its pretty self—into a waggish courage: Ready in gibes, quick-answer'd, saucy and As quarrelous as the weasel; nay, you must Forget that rarest treasure of your cheek, Exposing it—but, O, the harder heart! Alack, no remedy!—to the greedy touch Of common-kissing Titan, and forget Your laboursome and dainty trims, wherein You made great Juno angry.

PISANIO

Well then, here's what I recommend: you should stop being a woman, and exchange obedience for commands, fear and sensitivity (which are natural to women, or really, which are the essence of being a woman) for mischievous courage. You should be quick to insult people and talk back. Be rude and as violent as a weasel. You should stop protecting your skin (what a terrible thing, but it's the only way!), and let the sun shine on it as it does on everyone else. And you should give up all the work you put every day into primping, which makes the goddess Juno angry.

IMOGEN

Nay, be briefI see into thy end, and am almostA man already.

IMOGEN

All right, that's enough. I see what you're getting at, and I'm already almost done becoming a man.

PISANIO

First, make yourself but like one. Fore-thinking this, I have already fit— 'Tis in my cloak-bag—doublet, hat, hose, all That answer to them: would you in their serving, And with what imitation you can borrow From youth of such a season, 'fore noble Lucius Present yourself, desire his service, tell him wherein you're happy,—which you'll make him know, If that his head have ear in music,—doubtless With joy he will embrace you, for he's honourable And doubling that, most holy. Your means abroad, You have me, rich; and I will never fail Beginning nor supplyment.

PISANIO

First, just make yourself look like one. Planning on this, I already found a jacket, hat, and pants that will fit you. They're in my bag. Wearing them and acting as much like a man as you can, introduce yourself to noble Lucius, ask to be his servant, and tell him what you're good at. You can show him, if he knows anything about music. I'm sure he'll be glad to help you because he's honorable and, moreover, very religious. He'll pay for your travel abroad and I'll help with anything I can.

IMOGEN

Thou art all the comfort The gods will diet me with. Prithee, away: There's more to be consider'd; but we'll even All that good time will give us: this attempt I am soldier to, and will abide it with A prince's courage. Away, I prithee.

IMOGEN

You're the only comfort the gods have given me now. Come on, let's go. We have more to think about, but we'll set everything right as far as we can. I will do my best at this, and I'll be as brave as a prince. Let's go, please.

PISANIO

Well, madam, we must take a short farewell, Lest, being miss'd, I be suspected of Your carriage from the court. My noble mistress, Here is a box; I had it from the queen: What's in't is precious; if you are sick at sea, Or stomach-qualm'd at land, a dram of this Will drive away distemper. To some shade, And fit you to your manhood. May the gods Direct you to the best!

PISANIO

Well, ma'am, I have to say good-bye for now, because if they realize I'm gone from court they'll suspect me of helping you escape. Here's a box. I got it from the queen. What's in it is worth a lot. If you're sea-sick, or just have a stomach-ache on land, a mouthful of this will cure you. Find somewhere to hide, and become a man. May the gods protect you!

IMOGEN

Amen: I thank thee.

IMOGEN

Amen. Thank you.

Exeunt, severally

Cymbeline
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