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Henry V

Henry V Translation Act 2, Prologue

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CHORUS

Now all the youth of England are on fire, And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies. Now thrive the armorers, and honor’s thought Reigns solely in the breast of every man. They sell the pasture now to buy the horse, Following the mirror of all Christian kings With wingèd heels, as English Mercurys. For now sits Expectation in the air And hides a sword, from hilts unto the point, With crowns imperial, crowns and coronets Promised to Harry and his followers. The French, advised by good intelligence Of this most dreadful preparation, Shake in their fear, and with pale policy Seek to divert the English purposes. O England, model to thy inward greatness, Like little body with a mighty heart, What might’st thou do, that honor would thee do, Were all thy children kind and natural! But see, thy fault France hath in thee found out, A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills With treacherous crowns, and three corrupted men— One, Richard, Earl of Cambridge, and the second, Henry, Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third, Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland— Have, for the gilt of France (Oh, guilt indeed!), Confirmed conspiracy with fearful France, And by their hands this grace of kings must die, If hell and treason hold their promises, Ere he take ship for France, and in Southampton. Linger your patience on, and we’ll digest Th' abuse of distance, force a play. The sum is paid, the traitors are agreed, The king is set from London, and the scene Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton. There is the playhouse now, there must you sit, And thence to France shall we convey you safe And bring you back, charming the narrow seas To give you gentle pass; for, if we may, We’ll not offend one stomach with our play. But, till the king come forth, and not till then, Unto Southampton do we shift our scene.

CHORUS

Now all the English young people are on fire and have set aside their love affairs along with their fancy clothes. Now the armor-makers are doing good business, and every man thinks only about honor. They're selling their land to buy horses, so they can follow the greatest of all Christian kings with winged heels as though they were English Mercurys. Anticipation is sitting in the air, stacking all the different kinds of crowns promised to Harry and his followers on a sword. The French, whose spies told them about these frightening preparations, shake with fear and try to use frightened politics to change the Englishmen's minds. Oh England, on the outside you are like a tiny model of the greatness you hold inside you, like a little body with a huge heart. What things you could do that would do you honor, if only all your children were kind and normal! But see, the king of France has found your only fault, a nest of empty hearts which he fills with traitorous coins. There are three corrupt men. One is Richard, Earl of Cambridge, the second, Henry, Lord Scroop of Marsham, and the third, Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland. They are in a conspiracy with France and will kill this best of kings with their own hands in Southampton before he sails for France, if Hell and Treason keep their promises. Be patient for a while longer, and we'll summarize the time between this act and the last and force our play onward. The money is paid, the traitors have agreed to a plan, the king has left London, and the scene has now changed, gentlemen and ladies, to Southampton. There is the theater now, you must sit there, and from there we will carry you safely to France and bring you back, enchanting the narrow seas to give you a gentle journey. If possible, we won't make anyone seasick with our play. But, until the king comes out, and not until then, we're changing our scene to Southampton.

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