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Before thee stands this fair Hesperides

Before thee stands this fair Hesperides,
With golden fruit, but dangerous to be touched;
For deathlike dragons here affright thee hard.
Her face, like heaven, enticeth thee to view
Her countless glory, which desert must gain;
And which without desert, because thine eye
Presumes to reach, all the whole heap must die.
 He points to the heads.
Yon sometimes famous princes, like thyself,
Drawn by report, advent’rous by desire,
Tell thee with speechless tongues and semblance pale
That, without covering save yon field of stars,
Here they stand martyrs slain in Cupid’s wars,
And with dead cheeks advise thee to desist
For going on death’s net, whom none resist.

For death remembered should be like a mirror
Who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.

Antiochus, I thank thee, who hath taught
My frail mortality to know itself,
And by those fearful objects to prepare
This body, like to them, to what I must.
For death remembered should be like a mirror
Who tells us life’s but breath, to trust it error.
I’ll make my will, then, and as sick men do
Who know the world, see heaven but, feeling woe,
Gripe not at earthly joys as erst they did;
So I bequeath a happy peace to you
And all good men, as every prince should do;
My riches to the earth from whence they came,
To the Daughter. But my unspotted fire of love to you.—
Thus ready for the way of life or death,
I wait the sharpest blow.
Scorning advice, read the conclusion, then:
Which read and not expounded, ’tis decreed,
As these before thee, thou thyself shalt bleed.
Of all ’sayed yet, mayst thou prove prosperous;
Of all ’sayed yet, I wish thee happiness.
Like a bold champion I assume the lists,
Nor ask advice of any other thought
But faithfulness and courage.
 He reads the Riddle:

I am no viper, yet I feed
On mother’s flesh which did me breed.
I sought a husband, in which labor
I found that kindness in a father.
He’s father, son, and husband mild;
I mother, wife, and yet his child.
How they may be, and yet in two,
As you will live resolve it you.

Aside. Sharp physic is the last! But, O you powers
That gives heaven countless eyes to view men’s acts,
Why cloud they not their sights perpetually
If this be true which makes me pale to read it?
Fair glass of light, I loved you, and could still
Were not this glorious casket stored with ill.
But I must tell you now my thoughts revolt;
For he’s no man on whom perfections wait
That, knowing sin within, will touch the gate.
You are a fair viol, and your sense the strings
Who, fingered to make man his lawful music,
Would draw heaven down and all the gods to hearken;
But, being played upon before your time,
Hell only danceth at so harsh a chime.
Good sooth, I care not for you.

Act 1
Scene 1
Line 28

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