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Last updated: Tue, Jun 02, 2020
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Navigate this workHenry V
Act 3, scene 1
Henry delivers an oration to inspire his troops to take Harfleur.Enter the King ⌜of England,⌝ Exeter, Bedford, and
Gloucester. Alarum. ⌜Enter Soldiers with⌝ scaling
ladders at Harfleur.
1086 Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once
1088 Or close the wall up with our English dead!
1089 In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
1090 5 As modest stillness and humility,
1091 But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
1092 Then imitate the action of the tiger:
1093 Stiffen the sinews, ⌜summon⌝ up the blood,
1094 Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage,
1095 10 Then lend the eye a terrible aspect,
1096 Let it pry through the portage of the head
1097 Like the brass cannon, let the brow o’erwhelm it
1098 As fearfully as doth a gallèd rock
p. 871099 O’erhang and jutty his confounded base
1100 15 Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
1101 Now set the teeth, and stretch the nostril wide,
1102 Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
1103 To his full height. On, on, you ⌜noblest⌝ English,
1104 Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
1105 20 Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
1106 Have in these parts from morn till even fought,
1107 And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
1108 Dishonor not your mothers. Now attest
1109 That those whom you called fathers did beget you.
1110 25 Be copy now to ⌜men⌝ of grosser blood
1111 And teach them how to war. And you, good
1113 Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
1114 The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
1115 30 That you are worth your breeding, which I doubt
1117 For there is none of you so mean and base
1118 That hath not noble luster in your eyes.
1119 I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
1120 35 ⌜Straining⌝ upon the start. The game’s afoot.
1121 Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
1122 Cry “God for Harry, England, and Saint George!”
Alarum, and chambers go off.