Reading Journal

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

King Henry IV, Part 2, by Shakespeare

Henry IV took over the crown from Richard III in a sort of coup. His son Hal (Henry V) is hanging out with the wrong crowd, spending way too much time in bars with Sir John Falstaff. Meanwhile Henry IV is fighting civil wars.

Northumberland learns his son Hotspur is dead and decides to join the rebellion. (Later his wife and daughter persuade him to skip out... again.)
A scaly gauntlet now with joints of steel
Must glove this hand, and hence, thou sickly quoif,
Thou art a guard too wanton for the head
Which princes, flesh'd with conquest, aim to hit:
Now bind my brows with iron, and approach
The ragged'st hour that time and spite dare bring
To frown upon the enrag'd Northumberland!
Let heaven kiss earth, now let not Nature's hand
Keep the wild flood confin'd, let order die,
And let this world no longer be a stage,
To feed contention in a lingering act:
But let one spirit of the first-born Cain
Reighn in all bosoms, that, each heart being set
On bloody courses, the rude scene may end,
And darkness be the burier of the dead!

King Henry IV is too anxious to sleep.
How many thousand of my poorest subjects
Are at this hour asleep! O sleep! O gentle sleep!
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee,
And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great,
Under the canopies of costly state,
And lull'd with sound of sweetest melody?

As Henry IV dies, he regrets he is passing his kingdom to his son, who he fears is dissolute and unworthy.
Henry the fifth is crown'd: up, vanity!
Down, royal state! all you sage counsellors, hence!
And to the English court assemble now,
From every region, apes of idlesness!
Now, neighbour confines, purge you of your scum:
Have you a ruffian that will swear, drink, dance,
Revel the night, rob, murder, and commit
The oldest sins, the newest kind of ways?
Be happy, he will trouble you no more;
England shall double gild his treble guilt,
England shall give him office, hounour, might;
For the fifth Harry from curb'd license plucks,
The muzzle of restraint, and the wild dog
Shall flesh his tooth on every innocent.
O my poor kindgom, sick with civil blows!
When that my care could not withhold thy riots,
What wilt thou do when riot is thy care?


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