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Henry V: Act IV, Prologue

Henry V
Act IV, Prologue

  1. Enter Chorus.


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  1. Now entertain conjecture of a time
  2. When creeping murmur and the poring dark
  3. Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
  4. From camp to camp, through the foul womb of night,
  5. The hum of either army stilly sounds,
  6. That the fix’d sentinels almost receive
  7. The secret whispers of each other’s watch.
  8. Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames
  9. Each battle sees the other’s umber’d face.
  10. Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
  11. Piercing the night’s dull ear; and from the tents
  12. The armorers, accomplishing the knights,
  13. With busy hammers closing rivets up,
  14. Give dreadful note of preparation.
  15. The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
  16. And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
  17. Proud of their numbers and secure in soul,
  18. The confident and overlusty French
  19. Do the low-rated English play at dice;
  20. And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night,
  21. Who like a foul and ugly witch doth limp
  22. So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
  23. Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
  24. Sit patiently and inly ruminate
  25. The morning’s danger; and their gesture sad,
  26. Investing lank-lean cheeks and war-worn coats,
  27. Presented them unto the gazing moon
  28. So many horrid ghosts. O now, who will behold
  29. The royal captain of this ruin’d band
  30. Walking from watch to watch, from tent to tent,
  31. Let him cry, Praise and glory on his head!”
  32. For forth he goes, and visits all his host,
  33. Bids them good morrow with a modest smile,
  34. And calls them brothers, friends, and countrymen.
  35. Upon his royal face there is no note
  36. How dread an army hath enrounded him;
  37. Nor doth he dedicate one jot of color
  38. Unto the weary and all-watched night;
  39. But freshly looks, and overbears attaint
  40. With cheerful semblance and sweet majesty;
  41. That every wretch, pining and pale before,
  42. Beholding him, plucks comfort from his looks.
  43. A largess universal, like the sun,
  44. His liberal eye doth give to every one,
  45. Thawing cold fear, that mean and gentle all
  46. Behold, as may unworthiness define,
  47. A little touch of Harry in the night.
  48. And so our scene must to the battle fly;
  49. WhereO for pity!—we shall much disgrace
  50. With four or five most vile and ragged foils
  51. (Right ill dispos’d, in brawl ridiculous)
  52. The name of Agincourt. Yet sit and see,
  53. Minding true things by what their mock’ries be.
  1. Exit.
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