St. Crispian’s Day Speech

 

As autumn draws on, this speech (one of my favorite moments in Shakespeare) seems appropriate: King Henry delivers it just before the Battle of Agincourt, which was fought on the morning of 25 October 1415.

The Saint Crispian’s Day Speech

from Shakespeare’s Henry V (act IV, scene III); text from the 1914 Oxford Shakespeare, downloaded from Bartleby.com

 …

 Enter KING HENRY.

  West. O! that we now had here      20

But one ten thousand of those men in England

That do no work to-day.

  K. Hen. What’s he that wishes so?

My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:      24

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow

To do our country loss; and if to live,

The fewer men, the greater share of honour.

God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.     28

By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,

Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;

It yearns me not if men my garments wear;

Such outward things dwell not in my desires:      32

But if it be a sin to covet honour,

I am the most offending soul alive.

No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:

God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour      36

As one man more, methinks, would share from me,

For the best hope I have. O! do not wish one more:

Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,

That he which hath no stomach to this fight,      40

Let him depart; his passport shall be made,

And crowns for convoy put into his purse:

We would not die in that man’s company

That fears his fellowship to die with us.      44

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:

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.      48

He that shall live this day, and see old age,

Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,

And say, ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’

Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,      52

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. Then shall our names,      56

Familiar in his mouth as household words,

Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,

Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,

Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.      60

This story shall the good man teach his son;

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,

From this day to the ending of the world,

But we in it shall be remembered;      64

We few, we happy few, we band of brother;

For he to-day that sheds his blood with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile

This day shall gentle his condition:      68

And gentlemen in England, now a-bed

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.      72

 

 •

Photo: Longbow; Author, Hitchhiker89; WikiCmns; Public Domain.

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  1. pdlyons
    January 23, 2013 at 2:31 pm

    brilliant. one of my favorutes by one of my favorite shakespeare characters.

    • January 23, 2013 at 8:57 pm

      PDL: a thrilling moment, to be sure… RT

  2. March 8, 2013 at 9:41 pm

    Excellent play. It’s fun arriving at Henry V after reading the two parts of Henry IV- for me it made the Saint Crispen’s Day speech that much more impactful, knowing where he came from.

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