Fortune brings in some boats that are not steered

wooden boat on water's edge

Doubts, by time let them be clear’d: Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d

PISANIO:
I heard no letter from my master since
I wrote him Imogen was slain: ’tis strange:
Nor hear I from my mistress who did promise
To yield me often tidings: neither know I
What is betid to Cloten; but remain
Perplex’d in all. The heavens still must work.
Wherein I am false I am honest; not true, to be true.
These present wars shall find I love my country,
Even to the note o’ the king, or I’ll fall in them.
All other doubts, by time let them be clear’d:
Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.

by William Shakespeare
from Cymbeline, Act 4, Scene 3
read Cymbeline online

But who are these people? What does it mean?

Pisanio is the close friend and servant of Posthumus, and Imogen is the daughter of King Cymbeline. Imogen secretly marries Posthumus, though meddlesome royalty has plans for her to marry Cloten. After Iachimo tricks Posthumus into believing that Imogen was untrue, Posthumus tries to get Pisanio to kill Imogen. Pisanio lies to Posthumus about Imogen’s death: “Wherein I am false I am honest; not true, to be true,” trusting that aside from various intrigues, “doubts, by time let them be clear’d: Fortune brings in some boats that are not steer’d.”

After much adventure, disguise, bloodshed, not-quite-deadly poisons and a wicked queen’s deathbed confession, prisoners are released and lovers reunited — like a soap opera, only with a sweeping plot and Shakespeare’s glorious dialog.

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