Morsels of Henry V
As empty vessels make the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest blabber. – Plato, but referenced in Henry V
While the opening ceremonies for the Olympics were being broadcast Friday evening, Henry V was beautifully presented by New London’s all-volunteer, Flock Theatre. What a treat to picnic on the Custom House Pier with a simple banner-laden staging, basic lighting and some well-called sound cues on a breezy summer evening. Amtrak train whistles and engines pounded into the speeches like dramatic Hollywood SFX. We were transported to battles with the large, LOUD cast shouting ‘ARRRRRRRRRR” as they brought us convincingly into the intensity – and absurdity – of war.
As I wasn’t familiar with the play (how did I escape reading that one as an English-Drama major?), I jotted down a few lines that hit me during the performance. I went back and cut and pasted them from Google searches into a document and here share them with you. I hope you might find some inspiration or other useful purpose as I have. Perhaps take five minutes and absorb a few poetic morsels, an augmentation to the beautiful B-roll we’re seeing of England these weeks. All quotes are Shakespeare’s (or are they?) unless noted. Did Shakespeare Really Write His Plays? A Few Theories Examined | Anglophenia | BBC America
Dauphin, I, iv
Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin,
King Henry, III, i
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;
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
And you, good yeoman,
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 eyes.
King Henry, IV, iii
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day.
But we in it shall be rememberèd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
King Henry, IV, i
No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,
Not all these, laid in bed majestical,
Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,
Who with a body fill’d and vacant mind
Gets him to rest, cramm’d with distressful bread;
Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,
But, like a lackey, from the rise to set
Sweats in the eye of Phoebus and all night
Sleeps in Elysium;
King Henry, V, iii
O Kate! nice customs curtsy to great kings.
Dear Kate, you and I cannot be confined
within the weak list of a country’s fashion:
we are the makers of manners.