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Henry V

Henry V Translation Act 3, Prologue

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Enter CHORUS

CHORUS

Thus with imagined wing our swift scene flies In motion of no less celerity Than that of thought. Suppose that you have seen The well-appointed king at Hampton pier Embark his royalty, and his brave fleet With silken streamers the young Phoebus fanning. Play with your fancies and in them behold, Upon the hempen tackle, shipboys climbing. Hear the shrill whistle, which doth order give To sounds confused. Behold the threaden sails, Borne with th' invisible and creeping wind, Draw the huge bottoms through the furrowed sea, Breasting the lofty surge. Oh, do but think You stand upon the rivage and behold A city on th' inconstant billows dancing, For so appears this fleet majestical Holding due course to Harfleur. Follow, follow! Grapple your minds to sternage of this navy And leave your England, as dead midnight still, Guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women, Either past or not arrived to pith and puissance, For who is he whose chin is but enriched With one appearing hair that will not follow These culled and choice-drawn cavaliers to France? Work, work your thoughts, and therein see a siege. Behold the ordnance on their carriages, With fatal mouths gaping on girded Harfleur. Suppose th'Ambassador from the French comes back, Tells Harry that the king doth offer him Katherine his daughter and with her, to dowry, Some petty and unprofitable dukedoms. The offer likes not, and the nimble gunner With linstock now the devilish cannon touches,

CHORUS

Our fast scene flies with imaginary wings as quickly as thoughts do. Pretend you have seen the well-prepared king embark at Southampton pier, his brave ships fanning the sun with silk banners. Use your imagination and see the boys climbing on the ropes of the ships' rigging. Hear the piercing whistle, which imposes some order on all the cacophonous sounds. See the sails made of thread, carried by the invisible creeping wind, pulling the huge ships through the sea, facing the high waves. Oh, just imagine you're standing on the shore and see a city dancing on the unpredictable waves, because that's what this royal fleet sailing to Harfleur looks like. Follow, follow! Use grappling-hooks to attach your minds to the decks of these ships and leave your England, quiet as the dead of night, guarded by grandfathers, babies, and old women, either past or not yet arrived at their prime. What man who has even one hair on his chin wouldn't follow these chosen knights to France? Work, work your imaginations, and see a siege there. See the cannons on their supports, opening their deadly mouths at the walls of Harfleur. Imagine that the Ambassador comes back from the French, tells Harry the king offers him Katherine his daughter and with her, as a dowry, some small, poor dukedoms. He doesn't like the offer, so the fast gunner lights the devilish cannon's fuse,

Alarum, and chambers go off

And down goes all before them. Still be kind And eke out our performance with your mind.

And everything falls down in front of them. Remain kind and fill out gaps in our performance with your mind.

Exit

Henry v
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