O, for a Muse of fire, that would
The brightest heaven of invention;
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds,
should famine, sword, and fire
Crouch for employment.
But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraiséd spirits that
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object:
can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields
of France? or
may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great account,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confin’d two mighty
Whose high upreared
and abutting fronts.
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think, when we talk of horses, that
you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’
the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there, jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass:
for the which supply,
Admit me Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
At The Boar’s Head
No, my good lord, for sweet Jack Falstaff
kind Jack Falstaff, true Jack
valiant Jack Falstaff, banish not
thy Harry’s company. Banish
and banish all the world.
I do. I will.
God save thy grace, King Hal, my royal Hal,
God save thee, my sweet boy!
My king, my Jove, I speak to thee, my heart!
I know thee not, old man, fall to thy prayers;
How ill white hairs become a fool and jester!
I have long dream’d of such
a kind of man,
So surfeit-swell’d, so old,
and so profane.
But, being awak’d, I do
despise my dream,
Reply not to me with a foolish jest;
Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my
So shall I those that kept me
Now all the youth of England
are on fire,
And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies;
Now thrive the armourers, and honour’s thought
Reigns solely in the breast of every man.
They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
Following the mirror of all Christian kings,
With wingéd heels, as English Mercuries.
For now sits Expectation in the air,
And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets,
Promis’d to Harry and his
The King is set from London;
and the scene
Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton:
There is the playhouse now, there must you sit;
And thence to France
shall we convey you safe,
And bring you back, charming the narrow seas
To give you gentle pass; for if we may,
We’ll not offend one stomach with our play.
Suppose that you have seen
The well-appointed king at Hampton
Embark his royalty; and his brave fleet
With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning:
Play with your fancies, and in them behold
Upon the hempen tackle ship-boys climbing;
Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give
To sounds confus’d; behold the threaden sails,
Borne with th’invisible and
Draw the huge vessels through the furrow’d
Breasting the lofty surge. O, do but think
You stand upon the rivage and
A city on th’ inconstant
For so appears this fleet majestical,
Holding due course to Harfleur.
Cheerly to see the signs of war
No king of England,
if not king of France.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm
As fearfully as doth a galléd rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height!
On, on, you noblest English!
Whose blood is fet
from fathers of war-proof;
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
And sheath’d their swords
for lack of argument.
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d
fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war.
And you, good yeomen,
Whose limbs were made in England,
show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base
That hath not noble lustre in your
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit;
and upon this charge
Cry, ‘God for Harry, England,
and Saint George!’
The nimble gunner
With linstock now the devilish
And down goes all before them.
The Night Watch
Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fix’d sentinels
The secret whispers of each other’s watch:
Fire answers fire, and through their paly
Each battle sees the others umber’d
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents
The armourers, accomplishing the
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation.
Proud of their numbers, and secure in soul,
The confident and over-lusty French
Do the low-rated English play at dice;
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp
So tediously away.
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently, and inly ruminate
The morning’s danger, and their gesture sad
Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats
Presenteth them unto the gazing
So many horrid ghosts.
O, now, who will behold
The royal captain of this ruin’d
Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
Let him cry, ‘Praise and glory on his head!’
For forth he goes and visits all his host,
Bids them good-morrow with a modest smile,
And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.
Upon his royal face there is no note
How dread an army hath enrounded
Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
Unto the weary and all-watched night;
But freshly looks and overbears attaint
With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
That every wretch, pining and pale before,
Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.
A largess universal like the sun
His liberal eye doth give to every one,
Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all,
Behold, as may unworthiness define,
A little touch of Harry in the night.
This day is call’d the feast
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam’d,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day, and live old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, ‘Tomorrow is Saint Crispian’.
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
and say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s
Old men forget; yet
all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.
Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury
Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be rememberéd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile
This day shall gentle his condition;
And gentlemen in England
Shall think themselves accurs’d
they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap
whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!
Awake remembrance of our valiant dead,
And with your puissant arm renew their feats:
You are their heir, you sit upon their throne,
The blood and courage that renownéd
Runs in your veins; and my thrice-puissant liege
Is in the very May-morn of his youth,
Ripe for exploits and mighty enterprises.
The sun is high. Now,
soldiers, march away:
And how thou pleasest, God,
dispose the day!
The day is ours!
Praised be God, and not our strength for it.
For when without stratagem,
But in plain shock and even play of battle,
Was ever known so great and little loss
On one part and on th’other?
A castle stands hard by, they call it Agincourt;
Then call we this the field of Agincourt,
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.
Do we now all holy rites:
Let there be sung ‘Non nobis’
and ‘Te Deum’;
The dead with charity enclos’d
And then to Calais; and to England
Where ne’er from France
arriv’d more happy men.
Interlude: At the French Court
Duke of Burgundy
My duty to you both, on equal love
Great Kings of France
and England! That I have labour’d
With all my wits, my pains, and strong endeavours,
To bring your most imperial majesties
Unto this bar and royal interview,
Your mightiness on both parts best can witness.
Since then my office hath so far prevail’d
That face to face, and royal eye to eye,
You have congreeted, let it not disgrace
If I demand before this royal view,
What rub or what impediment there is,
Why that the naked, poor, and mangled Peace,
Dear nurse of arts, plenties, and
Should not in this best garden of the world,
Our fertile France,
put up her lovely visage?
Alas! she hath from France
too long been chas’d,
And all her husbandry doth lie on heaps,
Corrupting in its own fertility.
Her vine, the merry cheerer of the heart,
Unprunéd dies; her hedges even-pleach’d,
Like prisoners wildly overgrown with hair,
Put forth disorder’d twigs;
her fallow leas
The darnel, hemlock and rank fumitory
Doth root upon, while that the coulter rusts
That should deracinate such savagery;
The even mead, that erst brought
The freckled cowslip, burnet and green clover,
Wanting the scythe, all uncorrected, rank,
Conceives by idleness, and nothing teems
But hateful docks, rough thistles, kecksies,
Losing both beauty and utility.
And as our vineyards, fallows, meads, and hedges,
Defective in their natures, grow to wildness,
Even so our houses and ourselves and children
Have lost, or do not learn for want of time,
The sciences that should become our country,
But grow like savages, as soldiers will
That nothing do but meditate on blood,
To swearing and stern looks, diffus’d
And every thing that seems unnatural.
Which to reduce into our former favour
You are assembled; and my speech entreats
That I may know the let, why gentle Peace
Should not expel these inconveniences,
And bless us with her former qualities.
Earl of Westmoreland
The King of France hath granted every article:
His daughter first, and then in sequel all,
According to their firm proposed natures.
King of France
. . . that the contending kingdoms
Of France and England,
whose very shores look pale
With envy of each other’s happiness
May cease their hatred, and this dear conjunction
Plant neighbourhood and
In their sweet bosoms, that never war advance
His bleeding sword ’twixt England
and fair France.
Thus far, with rough and all-unable pen,
Our bending author hath pursu’d
In little room confining mighty men,
Mangling by starts the full course of their glory.
Small time, but in that small most greatly liv’d
This star of England: Fortune made his sword,
By which the world’s best garden he achiev’d,
And of it left his son imperial lord.
Which oft our stage hath shown; and for their sake,
In your fair minds let this acceptance take.
redde pro victoria.
Our King went forth to Normandy
With grace and might of chivalry.
There God for him wrought marv’lously,
may call and cry:
redde pro victoria..