William Shakespeare: Cymbeline, Act II, Scene II

Scene II

Imogen's bedchamber in Cymbeline's palace: a trunk in one corner of it

Imogen in bed, reading; a Lady attending


Who's there? my woman Helen?


Please you, madam


What hour is it?


Almost midnight, madam.


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.

Sleeps. Iachimo comes from the trunk


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, 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. 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 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. The scene closes