Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. II. Love
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume II. Love.  1904.
 
VIII. Wedded Love
Brutus and Portia
William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
 
From “Julius Cæsar,” Act II. Sc. 1.

Enter PORTIA.
  PORTIA.—                Brutus, my lord!
  BRUTUS.—Portia, what mean you? Wherefore rise you now?
It is not for your health thus to commit
Your weak condition to the raw cold morning.
  PORTIA.—Nor for yours neither. You ’ve ungently, Brutus,        5
Stole from my bed; and yesternight, at supper,
You suddenly arose and walked about,
Musing and sighing, with your arms across;
And, when I asked you what the matter was,
You stared upon me with ungentle looks.        10
I urged you further; then you scratched your head,
And too impatiently stamped with your foot.
Yet I insisted, yet you answered not,
But with an angry wafture of your hand
Gave sign for me to leave you. So I did;        15
Fearing to strengthen that impatience
Which seemed too much enkindled, and withal
Hoping it was but an effect of humor,
Which sometime hath his hour with every man.
It will not let you eat, nor talk, nor sleep,        20
And, could it work so much upon your shape
As it hath much prevailed on your condition,
I should not know you, Brutus. Dear my lord,
Make me acquainted with your cause of grief.
  BRUTUS.—I am not well in health, and that is all.        25
  PORTIA.—Brutus is wise, and, were he not in health,
He would embrace the means to come by it.
  BRUTUS.—Why, so I do.—Good Portia, go to bed.
  PORTIA.—Is Brutus sick? and is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humors        30
Of the dank morning? What! is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed,
To dare the vile contagion of the night,
And tempt the rheumy and unpurgèd air
To add unto his sickness? No, my Brutus;        35
You have some sick offence within your mind,
Which by the right and virtue of my place
I ought to know of: and, upon my knees,
I charm you, by my once commended beauty,
By all your vows of love and that great vow        40
Which did incorporate and make us one,
That you unfold to me, yourself, your half,
Why you are heavy, and what men to-night
Have had resort to you; for here have been
Some six or seven, who did hide their faces        45
Even from darkness.
  BRUTUS.—            Kneel not, gentle Portia.
  PORTIA.—I should not need, if you were gentle Brutus.
Within the bond of marriage, tell me, Brutus,
Is it excepted I should know no secrets
That appertain to you? Am I yourself        50
But, as it were, in sort of limitation,
To keep with you at meals, comfort your bed,
And talk to you sometimes? Dwell I but in the suburbs
Of your good pleasure? If it be no more,
Portia is Brutus’ harlot, not his wife.        55
  BRUTUS.—You are my true and honorable wife,
As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart.
  PORTIA.—If this were true, then should I know this secret.
I grant I am a woman, but withal        60
A woman that Lord Brutus took to wife;
I grant I am a woman, but withal
A woman well reputed, Cato’s daughter.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so fathered and so husbanded?        65
Tell me your counsels, I will not disclose ’em:
I have made strong proof of my constancy,
Giving myself a voluntary wound
Here in the thigh; can I bear that with patience,
And not my husband’s secrets?
  BRUTUS.—                        O, ye gods,
        70
Render me worthy of this noble wife!—
(Knocking within.)
Hark, hark! one knocks. Portia, go in a while;
And by and by thy bosom shall partake
The secrets of my heart.
All my engagements I will cónstrue to thee,        75
All the charáctery of my sad brows.
Leave me with haste.—        (Exit PORTIA.)
 
 
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