Cymbeline In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
While the star-crossed lovers of "Romeo and Juliet" are celebrated as Shakespeare's paramount romantic figures, another gem, "Cymbeline," sparkles in the vast constellation of the Bard's works, awaiting avid readers. Delve deep into the ancient landscapes of Britain (c. 10–14 AD), where legends come alive with tales of the valorous Celtic King Cunobeline.

Yet, defining "Cymbeline" isn't straightforward. While Shakespeare's First Folio pegged it as a tragedy, modern scholars tease out nuances that hint at intertwined romance and comedy. Rich with themes that echo renowned masterpieces like "Othello" and "The Winter's Tale", this play masterfully navigates the vast seas of human emotions, from the stormy waves of jealousy to the serene shores of innocence.

While its creation remains shrouded in the mists of time, historical footprints trace its stage debut back to 1611. However, for contemporary readers wary of Shakespeare's classic prose, there's a guiding star on the horizon: this BookCaps edition. Crafted for the modern mind, this version offers a retelling that retains the essence while being more accessible. Side by side with the original, this rendition is a testament to the timeless brilliance of Shakespeare.

Experience "Cymbeline" anew, and let this rejuvenated classic sweep you into its captivating embrace.






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SCENE I. Britain. The garden of CYMBELINE'S palace

You do not meet a man but frowns; our bloods
No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
Still seem as does the King's.

Every man you meet is frowning;
our moods aren't as susceptible to being influenced by the heavens
as the courtiers are to copying the moods of the King.

But what's the matter?

But what's the problem?

His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom
He purpos'd to his wife's sole son- a widow
That late he married- hath referr'd herself
Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded;
Her husband banish'd; she imprison'd. All
Is outward sorrow, though I think the King
Be touch'd at very heart.

His daughter, and the heir of his kingdom,
whom he intended to marry to his wife's only son–she's a widow
he only married recently–has hitched herself
to a good but poor gentleman. She is married;
her husband is exiled; she is in prison.
Everybody looks sorrowful, although I think the King
has been stabbed to the heart.

None but the King?

Just the King?

He that hath lost her too. So is the Queen,
That most desir'd the match. But not a courtier,
Although they wear their faces to the bent
Of the King's looks, hath a heart that is not
Glad at the thing they scowl at.

The one who has lost her as well. And the Queen,
who was very keen on the marriage. But there isn't a courtier,
although they have scowls on their faces to match
the King, who isn't secretly glad about the thing
they pretend to scowl at.

And why so?

And why is that?

He that hath miss'd the Princess is a thing
Too bad for bad report; and he that hath her-
I mean that married her, alack, good man!
And therefore banish'd- is a creature such
As, to seek through the regions of the earth
For one his like, there would be something failing
In him that should compare. I do not think
So fair an outward and such stuff within
Endows a man but he.

The one who missed out on the Princess is a piece of work
whom you couldn't be too critical about; and the man who has her–
I mean the one who married her, alas, good man!
And so is exiled–is a person whom
you could search everywhere on earth
to find a match for, there would always be something lacking
in the one you found. I don't think
there is anyone on earth who has
such a good appearance coupled to such good qualities.

You speak him far.

You speak very highly of him.

I do extend him, sir, within himself;
Crush him together rather than unfold
His measure duly.

I'm actually being quite reserved;
I'm pushing him down rather than
showing his true height.

What's his name and birth?

What's his name and what are his origins?

I cannot delve him to the root; his father
Was call'd Sicilius, who did join his honour
Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
But had his titles by Tenantius, whom
He serv'd with glory and admir'd success,
So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus;
And had, besides this gentleman in question,
Two other sons, who, in the wars o' th' time,
Died with their swords in hand; for which their father,
Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
That he quit being; and his gentle lady,
Big of this gentleman, our theme, deceas'd
As he was born. The King he takes the babe
To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
Breeds him and makes him of his bed-chamber,
Puts to him all the learnings that his time
Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
As we do air, fast as 'twas minist'red,
And in's spring became a harvest, liv'd in court-
Which rare it is to do- most prais'd, most lov'd,
A sample to the youngest; to th' more mature
A glass that feated them; and to the graver
A child that guided dotards. To his mistress,
For whom he now is banish'd- her own price
Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue;
By her election may be truly read
What kind of man he is.

I can't quite get to the bottom of him; his father
was called Sicilius, who fought
against the Romans with Cassibelan,
but he got his titles from Tenantius, whom
he served gloriously and with great success,
and he was given the additional name Leonatus:
besides the gentleman we're talking about, he had
two other sons, who, in the walls of that time,
died on the battlefield; their father,
who was then old and, doting on his children,
was so grieved by this that he died; and his sweet wife,
pregnant with the gentleman we are talking about, died
in childbirth. The King took the baby
under his protection, called him Posthumus Leonatus,
raised him and made him one of his inner circle,
and gave him as much education as was
appropriate for his age; he took it in
as we take in air, as fast as he could get it,
and he flourished: he lived in court
(which is most unusual) greatly praised, greatly loved;
an example to the youngest, to the older ones
a model they couldn't live up to: and to the wise
a child who could outthink old men. As for his mistress,
(from whom he is now separated) the price she was prepared to pay
shows what she felt about him; through her choice
of him you can truly see his goodness,
the kind of man he is.

I honour him
Even out of your report. But pray you tell me,
Is she sole child to th' King?

I respect him
even just hearing of him. But please tell me,
is she the King's only child?

His only child.
He had two sons- if this be worth your hearing,
Mark it- the eldest of them at three years old,
I' th' swathing clothes the other, from their nursery
Were stol'n; and to this hour no guess in knowledge
Which way they went.

His only child.
He had two sons–if this is worth listening to,
make a note of it–who was stolen from their nursery,
the older one was three years old and the other
was just a baby; and to this day nobody has any idea
what happened to them.

How long is this ago?

How long ago was this?

Some twenty years.

Some twenty years.

That a king's children should be so convey'd,
So slackly guarded, and the search so slow
That could not trace them!

It's amazing that this could happen to the children of a king,
so poorly guarded, and the search so inefficient
that it couldn't find them!

Howsoe'er 'tis strange,
Or that the negligence may well be laugh'd at,
Yet is it true, sir.

However strange it seems,
or however ridiculous the negligence seems,
it's still true, sir.

I do well believe you.

I certainly believe you.

We must forbear; here comes the gentleman,
The Queen, and Princess. 


We must withdraw; here comes the gentleman,
the Queen and the Princess.


No, be assur'd you shall not find me, daughter,
After the slander of most stepmothers,
Evil-ey'd unto you. You're my prisoner, but
Your gaoler shall deliver you the keys
That lock up your restraint. For you, Posthumus,
So soon as I can win th' offended King,
I will be known your advocate. Marry, yet
The fire of rage is in him, and 'twere good
You lean'd unto his sentence with what patience
Your wisdom may inform you.

No, I can promise, daughter, you won't find me–
as they say about most stepmothers–
unkind to you. You're my prisoner, but
your jailer will give you the keys
to your prison. As for you, Posthumus,
as soon as I can win over the upset King,
I will show that I'm on your side. Still,
at the moment he is furious, and it would be best
for you to accept his sentence with as much
patience as you can muster.

Please your Highness,
I will from hence to-day.

If it please your Highness,
I will leave here today.

You know the peril.
I'll fetch a turn about the garden, pitying
The pangs of barr'd affections, though the King
Hath charg'd you should not speak together. 

You recognise the danger.
I'll take a turn round the garden, as I pity
the anguish of forbidden love, though the King
has ordered that you should not speak to each other.

O dissembling courtesy! How fine this tyrant
Can tickle where she wounds! My dearest husband,
I something fear my father's wrath, but nothing-
Always reserv'd my holy duty- what
His rage can do on me. You must be gone;
And I shall here abide the hourly shot
Of angry eyes, not comforted to live
But that there is this jewel in the world
That I may see again.

What false kindness! How good this evil woman is
at smiling when she stabs you! My dearest husband,
I am a little afraid of my father's anger, but not–
excepting the biblical duty I owe him–of
what he can do to me. You must go;
I shall stay here and suffer the constant
glare of his angry eyes, with no reason to live
except that I know that there is this beautiful thing in the world
that I may see again.

My queen! my mistress!
O lady, weep no more, lest I give cause
To be suspected of more tenderness
Than doth become a man. I will remain
The loyal'st husband that did e'er plight troth;
My residence in Rome at one Philario's,
Who to my father was a friend, to me
Known but by letter; thither write, my queen,
And with mine eyes I'll drink the words you send,
Though ink be made of gall.
Re-enter QUEEN

My queen! My mistress!
Oh lady, stop weeping, in case I do something
which would make people think I was weaker
than a man ought to be. I will remain
the most loyal husband that ever took his vows;
in Rome I shall stay with someone called Philario,
who was a friend of my father's, I only
know him through letters; write there, my queen,
and my eyes will drink in the words you send,
even if the ink was poison.

Be brief, I pray you.
If the King come, I shall incur I know not
How much of his displeasure. [Aside] Yet I'll move him
To walk this way. I never do him wrong
But he does buy my injuries, to be friends;
Pays dear for my offences. 

Please be quick.
If the King comes, I can't imagine
how furious he'll be with me.[Aside] But I'll persuade him
to walk this way. He forgives me for
any wrong I do him, for the sake of staying friends;
he pays heavily for my wrongdoing.

Should we be taking leave
As long a term as yet we have to live,
The loathness to depart would grow. Adieu!

If we were saying goodbye
for the rest of our lives,
the reluctance to part would just get worse. Goodbye!

Nay, stay a little.
Were you but riding forth to air yourself,
Such parting were too petty. Look here, love:
This diamond was my mother's; take it, heart;
But keep it till you woo another wife,
When Imogen is dead.

No, stay a little longer.
If you were just riding out to get some air,
this would be too small a goodbye. Look here, love:
this diamond belonged to my mother; take it, sweetheart;
always keep it until you woo another wife,
when Imogen is dead.

How, how? Another?
You gentle gods, give me but this I have,
And sear up my embracements from a next
With bonds of death! Remain, remain thou here
[Puts on the ring]
While sense can keep it on. And, sweetest, fairest,
As I my poor self did exchange for you,
To your so infinite loss, so in our trifles
I still win of you. For my sake wear this;
It is a manacle of love; I'll place it
Upon this fairest prisoner. [Puts a bracelet on her arm]

What's this? Another?
You gentle gods, just give me what I have,
and don't let me be in the arms of another
until the day I die! You stay here
[puts on the ring]
as long as there is life to keep it here. And, sweetest, fairest,
as I exchanged my poor self for you
to your great disadvantage, even with trinkets
I still get a better bargain. Wear this for my sake; 
it is a manacle of love; I'll put it
on this loveliest of prisoners.

O the gods!
When shall we see again?

Oh by the gods!
When shall we see each other again?

Alack, the King!

Alas, the King!

Thou basest thing, avoid; hence from my sight!
If after this command thou fraught the court
With thy unworthiness, thou diest. Away!
Thou'rt poison to my blood.

You scum, stay away; get out of my sight!
If after this order you bother the court
with your unworthy presence, you shall die. Go!
You are poisonous to me.

The gods protect you,
And bless the good remainders of the court!
I am gone. 

May the gods protect you,
and blessed with good men still in the court!
I'm going.

There cannot be a pinch in death
More sharp than this is.

The sting of death
can't be as painful as this.

O disloyal thing,
That shouldst repair my youth, thou heap'st
A year's age on me!

You disloyal object,
you should be making me feel young, you have put
another year on me!

I beseech you, sir,
Harm not yourself with your vexation.
I am senseless of your wrath; a touch more rare
Subdues all pangs, all fears.

I beg you, sir,
don't work yourself into a state.
I can't feel your anger; there is a more exquisite pain
which triumphs over everything.

Past grace? obedience?

Are you beyond grace? Obedience?

Past hope, and in despair; that way past grace.

I'm beyond hope, and in despair; in that way I am way past grace.

That mightst have had the sole son of my queen!

You could have had my Queen's only son!

O blessed that I might not! I chose an eagle,
And did avoid a puttock.

How blessed I am that I didn't! I chose an eagle,
and avoided a kite.

Thou took'st a beggar, wouldst have made my throne
A seat for baseness.

You chose a beggar, who would have dragged my throne
down to the gutter.

No; I rather added
A lustre to it.

No; actually I added
to its glory.

O thou vile one!

Oh you horrible girl!

It is your fault that I have lov'd Posthumus.
You bred him as my playfellow, and he is
A man worth any woman; overbuys me
Almost the sum he pays.

it is your fault that I fell in love with Posthumus.
You brought him up as my playmate, and he is
a man worthy of any woman; he's worth more than me,
the gap is almost as big as the price he is now paying.

What, art thou mad?

What, are you mad?

Almost, sir. Heaven restore me! Would I were
A neat-herd's daughter, and my Leonatus
Our neighbour shepherd's son!
Re-enter QUEEN

Almost, sir. Heaven save me! I wish I was
a goatherd's daughter, and my Leonatus
was the son of our shepherd neighbour.

Thou foolish thing!
[To the QUEEN] They were again together. You have done
Not after our command. Away with her,
And pen her up.

You stupid girl!
[To the Queen] They were together again.You have
not followed my orders.Take her away
and lock her up.

Beseech your patience.- Peace,
Dear lady daughter, peace!- Sweet sovereign,
Leave us to ourselves, and make yourself some comfort
Out of your best advice.

Please be calm.Peace, 
dear lady daughter, peace!Sweet King,
leave us alone, and go and reflect
on the matter.

Nay, let her languish
A drop of blood a day and, being aged,
Die of this folly. Exit, with LORDS

No, let her lose
a drop of blood a day and, having grown old,
die of this stupidity.

Fie! you must give way.
Here is your servant. How now, sir! What news?

Ha!You will give in to me.
Here is your servant.Hello there sir!What's the news?

My lord your son drew on my master.

My lord your son attacked my master with his sword.

No harm, I trust, is done?

I trust there's no harm done?

There might have been,
But that my master rather play'd than fought,
And had no help of anger; they were parted
By gentlemen at hand.

There might have been,
only my master was only playfighting,
and didn't lose his temper; they were separated
by some nearby gentlemen.

I am very glad on't.

I'm very glad to hear it.

Your son's my father's friend; he takes his part
To draw upon an exile! O brave sir!
I would they were in Afric both together;
Myself by with a needle, that I might prick
The goer-back. Why came you from your master?

Your son supports my father; he takes his side
by drawing his sword on an exile!What a brave chap!
I wish they were both in some deserted place,
with me standing by with a needle to prick 
anyone who tried to back down.Why have you left your master?

On his command. He would not suffer me
To bring him to the haven; left these notes
Of what commands I should be subject to,
When't pleas'd you to employ me.

At his orders.He wouldn't let me
accompany him to the harbour; he left these instructions
as to what I should do,
when you wanted to use me.

This hath been
Your faithful servant. I dare lay mine honour
He will remain so.

He has been 
a faithful servant to you.I'll wager
he will remain so.

I humbly thank your Highness.

I humbly thank your highness.

Pray walk awhile.

Please walk a while with me.

About some half-hour hence,
Pray you speak with me. You shall at least
Go see my lord aboard. For this time leave me. 

About half an hour from now, 
please come and speak to me.You shall at least
help my lord to board his ship.Leave me for now.

SCENE II. Britain. A public place

Enter CLOTEN and two LORDS

Sir, I would advise you to shift a shirt; the
of action hath made you reek as a sacrifice. Where air comes
air comes in; there's none abroad so wholesome as that you

Sir, I think you should change your shirt;
the efforts you've made make you smell like a sacrifice.
If you breathe out you have to breathe in,
and the outside air isn't as sweet as what you give off.

If my shirt were bloody, then to shift it. Have I hurt

If my shirt had blood on it, then I would change it. Have I hurt him?

[Aside] No, faith; not so much as his patience.

Indeed not, you haven't even hurt his pride.

Hurt him! His body's a passable carcass if he be
hurt. It is a throughfare for steel if it be not hurt.

Hurt him! His body must have been dead already if he wasn't hurt.
It's a road for steel to pass through if he isn't hurt.

[Aside] His steel was in debt; it went o' th' back
side the town.

His sword must have been in debt; it sneaked round the back way.

The villain would not stand me.

The villain couldn't stand me.

[Aside] No; but he fled forward still, toward your

No; but he ran away coming forwards, towards your face.

Stand you? You have land enough of your own; but he
added to your having, gave you some ground.

Stand you? You have plenty of land of your own; but he
added to it, by giving ground to you.

[Aside] As many inches as you have oceans.

He gave as many inches as you have oceans.

I would they had not come between us.

I wish they hadn't stopped us.

[Aside] So would I, till you had measur'd how long
fool you were upon the ground.

I wish they hadn't also, I wanted to see you
measuring out your stupidity on the ground.

And that she should love this fellow, and refuse me!

To think that she loves this fellow and refuses me!

[Aside] If it be a sin to make a true election,
she is

If it's a sin to make the right choice,
she's damned.

Sir, as I told you always, her beauty and her brain
not together; she's a good sign, but I have seen small
of her wit.

Sir, as I always said, her beauty and her brains don't match;
she looks good, but I haven't seen much sign of intelligence.

[Aside] She shines not upon fools, lest the
should hurt her.

She doesn't show it to fools, in case
she should have to listen to their replies.

Come, I'll to my chamber. Would there had been some

Come on, I'll go to my room. I wish I'd done him some injury!

[Aside] I wish not so; unless it had been the fall
an ass, which is no great hurt.

I don't wish that; unless an ass had fallen down,
which is no great loss.

You'll go with us?

Will you come with me?

I'll attend your lordship.

I'll wait on your lordship.

Nay, come, let's go together.

No, come on, let's go together.

Well, my lord. 

Good, my lord.
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