History of Henry V

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Prologue

       
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[Enter Chorus]

  • Chorus. Now entertain conjecture of a time
    When creeping murmur and the poring dark
    Fills the wide vessel of the universe. 1790
    From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
    The hum of either army stilly sounds,
    That the fixed sentinels almost receive
    The secret whispers of each other's watch:
    Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames 1795
    Each battle sees the other's umber'd face;
    Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
    Piercing the night's dull ear, and from the tents
    The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
    With busy hammers closing rivets up, 1800
    Give dreadful note of preparation:
    The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
    And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
    Proud of their numbers and secure in soul,
    The confident and over-lusty French 1805
    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 poor condemned English,
    Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires 1810
    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 moon
    So many horrid ghosts. O now, who will behold 1815
    The royal captain of this ruin'd band
    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 1820
    And calls them brothers, friends and countrymen.
    Upon his royal face there is no note
    How dread an army hath enrounded him;
    Nor doth he dedicate one jot of colour
    Unto the weary and all-watched night, 1825
    But freshly looks and over-bears 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 1830
    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.
    And so our scene must to the battle fly; 1835
    Where—O for pity!—we shall much disgrace
    With four or five most vile and ragged foils,
    Right ill-disposed in brawl ridiculous,
    The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see,
    Minding true things by what their mockeries be. 1840

[Exit]

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