Henry V Translation Act 3, Scene 3
Enter the GOVERNOR and some citizens on the walls. Enter KING HENRY and his train before the gates
How yet resolves the governor of the town? This is the latest parle we will admit. Therefore to our best mercy give yourselves Or, like to men proud of destruction, Defy us to our worst. For, as I am a soldier, A name that in my thoughts becomes me best, If I begin the batt'ry once again, I will not leave the half-achieved Harfleur Till in her ashes she lie burièd. The gates of mercy shall be all shut up, And the fleshed soldier, rough and hard of heart, In liberty of bloody hand, shall range With conscience wide as hell, mowing like grass Your fresh fair virgins and your flow'ring infants. What is it then to me if impious war, Arrayed in flames like to the prince of fiends, Do with his smirched complexion all fell feats Enlinked to waste and desolation? What is ’t to me, when you yourselves are cause, If your pure maidens fall into the hand Of hot and forcing violation? What rein can hold licentious wickedness When down the hill he holds his fierce career? We may as bootless spend our vain command Upon th' enragèd soldiers in their spoil As send precepts to the Leviathan To come ashore. Therefore, you men of Harfleur, Take pity of your town and of your people Whiles yet my soldiers are in my command, Whiles yet the cool and temperate wind of grace O'erblows the filthy and contagious clouds Of heady murder, spoil, and villainy. If not, why, in a moment look to see The blind and bloody soldier with foul hand Desire the locks of your shrill-shrieking daughters, Your fathers taken by the silver beards And their most reverend heads dashed to the walls, Your naked infants spitted upon pikes Whiles the mad mothers with their howls confused Do break the clouds, as did the wives of Jewry At Herod’s bloody-hunting slaughtermen. What say you? Will you yield and this avoid Or, guilty in defense, be thus destroyed?
What has the mayor of the town decided? This is the last truce we will grant. So surrender to us or, like men proud of destroying themselves, dare us to do our worst. Because, as sure as I am a soldier, which I think is the most fitting thing for me to call myself, if I begin the attack once again, I will not leave half-defeated Harfleur until it's buried in its own ashes. The gates of mercy will be shut, and the bloody soldiers, rough and hard-hearted, free to do whatever terrible deeds they want, will wander around with the willingness to do anything, mowing down like grass your beautiful young girls and your growing babies. What is it to me if unholy war, dressed in flames like the devil, with a scorched face, does all the horrible things that go along with destruction and loss? What is it to me, since you yourselves are to blame, if your pure young women are raped? What kind of control can you have over immoral evil when it's charging fiercely on as though running down a hill? We could just as uselessly give pointless orders to looting angry soldiers as send instructions to the sea-monster Leviathan to come to shore. So, you men of Harfleur, have pity on your town and on your people while my soldiers are still under my control, while the cool and mild wind of kindness is stronger than the dirty and unhealthy clouds of wild murder, looting, and evil. If not, in a moment expect to see a blind and bloody soldier reaching with a dirty hand towards the hair of your piercingly-shrieking daughters, your fathers grabbed by their silver beards and their wise heads smashed against the walls, your naked babies stabbed on pikes while the crazed mothers break the clouds with their confused howls, like the Jewish wives did at Herod's bloody murderers. What do you say? Will you surrender and avoid this or, guilty of these crimes because you continue to defend yourselves, be destroyed in this way?
Our expectation hath this day an end. The Dauphin, whom of succors we entreated, Returns us that his powers are yet not ready To raise so great a siege. Therefore, great King, We yield our town and lives to thy soft mercy. Enter our gates, dispose of us and ours, For we no longer are defensible.
Our hopes end today. The Dauphin, whom we begged to help us, replies that his forces are not yet ready to end such a strong siege. So, great King, we surrender our town and lives to your kind mercy. Enter our gates, do what you want with us and what we own, because we can no longer defend ourselves.
KING HENRYOpen your gates. [Exit Governor]
Come, uncle Exeter,
Go you and enter Harfleur. There remain
And fortify it strongly 'gainst the French.
Use mercy to them all. For us, dear uncle,
The winter coming on and sickness growing
Upon our soldiers, we will retire to Calais.
Tonight in Harfleur will we be your guest;
Tomorrow for the march are we addressed.
Open your gates. [Governor exits.] Uncle Exeter, go enter Harfleur. Stay there and fortify it well against the French. Be merciful to them all. As for me, dear uncle, since winter is coming and my soldiers are getting sick, I will retreat to Calais. Tonight I will be your guest in Harfleur. I will march tomorrow.
Flourish, and enter the town
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
- Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
- Downloads of 1173 LitCharts Lit Guides
- Explanations and citation info for 25,867 quotes covering 1173 books
- Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
- PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms