The crickets sing, and man's o'erlabour'



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Age Range
Act 5 Scene 2
Time & Place
Ancient Britain
Time Period
Show Type

Monologue Context

Iachimo has just tried to seduce the virtuous Imogen but he has been unsuccessful.

Monologue Text

The crickets sing, and man's o'erlabour'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 becom'st 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 of the taper

Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids,

To see the enclosed lights, now canopied

Under these windows, white and azure lac'd

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

Th' 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 senses 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.]

William Shakespeare Cymbeline Act 2 sc.2 ll.11-51