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History of Henry VI, Part III

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Act II, Scene 5

Another part of the field.


[Alarum. Enter KING HENRY VI alone]

  • Henry VI. This battle fares like to the morning's war,
    When dying clouds contend with growing light,
    What time the shepherd, blowing of his nails, 1105
    Can neither call it perfect day nor night.
    Now sways it this way, like a mighty sea
    Forced by the tide to combat with the wind;
    Now sways it that way, like the selfsame sea
    Forced to retire by fury of the wind: 1110
    Sometime the flood prevails, and then the wind;
    Now one the better, then another best;
    Both tugging to be victors, breast to breast,
    Yet neither conqueror nor conquered:
    So is the equal of this fell war. 1115
    Here on this molehill will I sit me down.
    To whom God will, there be the victory!
    For Margaret my queen, and Clifford too,
    Have chid me from the battle; swearing both
    They prosper best of all when I am thence. 1120
    Would I were dead! if God's good will were so;
    For what is in this world but grief and woe?
    O God! methinks it were a happy life,
    To be no better than a homely swain;
    To sit upon a hill, as I do now, 1125
    To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,
    Thereby to see the minutes how they run,
    How many make the hour full complete;
    How many hours bring about the day;
    How many days will finish up the year; 1130
    How many years a mortal man may live.
    When this is known, then to divide the times:
    So many hours must I tend my flock;
    So many hours must I take my rest;
    So many hours must I contemplate; 1135
    So many hours must I sport myself;
    So many days my ewes have been with young;
    So many weeks ere the poor fools will ean:
    So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:
    So minutes, hours, days, months, and years, 1140
    Pass'd over to the end they were created,
    Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.
    Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!
    Gives not the hawthorn-bush a sweeter shade
    To shepherds looking on their silly sheep, 1145
    Than doth a rich embroider'd canopy
    To kings that fear their subjects' treachery?
    O, yes, it doth; a thousand-fold it doth.
    And to conclude, the shepherd's homely curds,
    His cold thin drink out of his leather bottle. 1150
    His wonted sleep under a fresh tree's shade,
    All which secure and sweetly he enjoys,
    Is far beyond a prince's delicates,
    His viands sparkling in a golden cup,
    His body couched in a curious bed, 1155
    When care, mistrust, and treason waits on him.
    [Alarum. Enter a Son that has killed his father,]
    dragging in the dead body]
  • Son. Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
    This man, whom hand to hand I slew in fight, 1160
    May be possessed with some store of crowns;
    And I, that haply take them from him now,
    May yet ere night yield both my life and them
    To some man else, as this dead man doth me.
    Who's this? O God! it is my father's face, 1165
    Whom in this conflict I unwares have kill'd.
    O heavy times, begetting such events!
    From London by the king was I press'd forth;
    My father, being the Earl of Warwick's man,
    Came on the part of York, press'd by his master; 1170
    And I, who at his hands received my life, him
    Have by my hands of life bereaved him.
    Pardon me, God, I knew not what I did!
    And pardon, father, for I knew not thee!
    My tears shall wipe away these bloody marks; 1175
    And no more words till they have flow'd their fill.
  • Henry VI. O piteous spectacle! O bloody times!
    Whiles lions war and battle for their dens,
    Poor harmless lambs abide their enmity.
    Weep, wretched man, I'll aid thee tear for tear; 1180
    And let our hearts and eyes, like civil war,
    Be blind with tears, and break o'ercharged with grief.

[Enter a Father that has killed his son, bringing in the body]

  • Father. Thou that so stoutly hast resisted me,
    Give me thy gold, if thou hast any gold: 1185
    For I have bought it with an hundred blows.
    But let me see: is this our foeman's face?
    Ah, no, no, no, it is mine only son!
    Ah, boy, if any life be left in thee,
    Throw up thine eye! see, see what showers arise, 1190
    Blown with the windy tempest of my heart,
    Upon thy words, that kill mine eye and heart!
    O, pity, God, this miserable age!
    What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly,
    Erroneous, mutinous and unnatural, 1195
    This deadly quarrel daily doth beget!
    O boy, thy father gave thee life too soon,
    And hath bereft thee of thy life too late!
  • Henry VI. Woe above woe! grief more than common grief!
    O that my death would stay these ruthful deeds! 1200
    O pity, pity, gentle heaven, pity!
    The red rose and the white are on his face,
    The fatal colours of our striving houses:
    The one his purple blood right well resembles;
    The other his pale cheeks, methinks, presenteth: 1205
    Wither one rose, and let the other flourish;
    If you contend, a thousand lives must wither.
  • Son. How will my mother for a father's death
    Take on with me and ne'er be satisfied!
  • Father. How will my wife for slaughter of my son 1210
    Shed seas of tears and ne'er be satisfied!
  • Henry VI. How will the country for these woful chances
    Misthink the king and not be satisfied!
  • Son. Was ever son so rued a father's death?
  • Father. Was ever father so bemoan'd his son? 1215
  • Henry VI. Was ever king so grieved for subjects' woe?
    Much is your sorrow; mine ten times so much.
  • Son. I'll bear thee hence, where I may weep my fill.

[Exit with the body]

  • Father. These arms of mine shall be thy winding-sheet; 1220
    My heart, sweet boy, shall be thy sepulchre,
    For from my heart thine image ne'er shall go;
    My sighing breast shall be thy funeral bell;
    And so obsequious will thy father be,
    Even for the loss of thee, having no more, 1225
    As Priam was for all his valiant sons.
    I'll bear thee hence; and let them fight that will,
    For I have murdered where I should not kill.

[Exit with the body]

  • Henry VI. Sad-hearted men, much overgone with care, 1230
    Here sits a king more woful than you are.
    [Alarums: excursions. Enter QUEEN MARGARET, PRINCE]
  • Prince Edward. Fly, father, fly! for all your friends are fled,
    And Warwick rages like a chafed bull: 1235
    Away! for death doth hold us in pursuit.
  • Queen Margaret. Mount you, my lord; towards Berwick post amain:
    Edward and Richard, like a brace of greyhounds
    Having the fearful flying hare in sight,
    With fiery eyes sparkling for very wrath, 1240
    And bloody steel grasp'd in their ireful hands,
    Are at our backs; and therefore hence amain.
  • Duke of Exeter. Away! for vengeance comes along with them:
    Nay, stay not to expostulate, make speed;
    Or else come after: I'll away before. 1245
  • Henry VI. Nay, take me with thee, good sweet Exeter:
    Not that I fear to stay, but love to go
    Whither the queen intends. Forward; away!