A line-by-line translation

Henry VI, Part 1

Henry VI, Part 1 Translation Act 1, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

Dead March. Enter the Funeral of KING HENRY the Fifth, attended on by Dukes of BEDFORD, Regent of France; GLOUCESTER, Protector; and EXETER, Earl of WARWICK, the BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, Heralds, & c

BEDFORD

Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night! Comets, importing change of times and states, Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky, And with them scourge the bad revolting stars That have consented unto Henry's death! King Henry the Fifth, too famous to live long! England ne'er lost a king of so much worth.

BEDFORD

The skies are covered with darkness, day has passed into night now! Comets, which announce change, you should move frantically through the sky and punish those that are responsible for Henry's death! King Henry V was too famous to grow old. Never has England lost a better king. 

GLOUCESTER

England ne'er had a king until his time. Virtue he had, deserving to command: His brandish'd sword did blind men with his beams: His arms spread wider than a dragon's wings; His sparking eyes, replete with wrathful fire, More dazzled and drove back his enemies Than mid-day sun fierce bent against their faces. What should I say? his deeds exceed all speech: He ne'er lift up his hand but conquered.

GLOUCESTER

England has never had such a king before him. He was virtuous and good, a born leader. His sword shined, its light could blind men around him. His arms were wider than a dragon's wings. His bright eyes were so full of angry fire that his glare blinded and drove away his enemies. The fire in his eyes was brighter than the sun shining in his enemies' faces at noon. What else can I say? Words don't do his actions justice. He succeeded every time he set out to do something.

EXETER

We mourn in black: why mourn we not in blood? Henry is dead and never shall revive: Upon a wooden coffin we attend, And death's dishonourable victory We with our stately presence glorify, Like captives bound to a triumphant car. What! shall we curse the planets of mishap That plotted thus our glory's overthrow? Or shall we think the subtle-witted French Conjurers and sorcerers, that afraid of him By magic verses have contrived his end?

EXETER

We mourn dressed in black, but shouldn't we mourn by shedding blood? Henry is dead and will never live again. We are here around a wooden coffin, honoring the dishonest victory of death over our king. We are attached to the coffin like slaves bound to a chariot processing through the streets in triumph. What!? Should we curse the planets that bring bad luck, because they planned to ruin our triumph? Or should we think that it was the crafty and clever French magicians and wizards that cast magic spells on him to end his life, because they were so afraid of him? 

WINCHESTER

He was a king bless'd of the King of kings. Unto the French the dreadful judgement-day So dreadful will not be as was his sight. The battles of the Lord of hosts he fought: The church's prayers made him so prosperous.

WINCHESTER

He was lucky because he was the best of kings. For the French, he was worse than the end of the world, they were so terrified to see him. He fought battles in the name of God and the prayers of the church made him successful. 

GLOUCESTER

The church! where is it? Had not churchmen pray'd, His thread of life had not so soon decay'd: None do you like but an effeminate prince, Whom, like a school-boy, you may over-awe.

GLOUCESTER

The church! Where is the church? Wasn't it the churchmen who prayed for his death?  Men of the church only like a weak prince who they can control as if he were a school boy. 

WINCHESTER

Gloucester, whate'er we like, thou art protector And lookest to command the prince and realm. Thy wife is proud; she holdeth thee in awe, More than God or religious churchmen may.

WINCHESTER

Gloucester, let's consider you for a moment. You are the new king's protector and so you must guide the prince and rule the realm. Your wife is proud, she admires you more than God or churchmen might.

GLOUCESTER

Name not religion, for thou lovest the flesh,And ne'er throughout the year to church thou go'stExcept it be to pray against thy foes.

GLOUCESTER

Do not call on religion. You love only objects and money and sex and you only go to church during the year to pray against your enemies. 

BEDFORD

Cease, cease these jars and rest your minds in peace: Let's to the altar: heralds, wait on us: Instead of gold, we'll offer up our arms: Since arms avail not now that Henry's dead. Posterity, await for wretched years, When at their mothers' moist eyes babes shall suck, Our isle be made a nourish of salt tears, And none but women left to wail the dead. Henry the Fifth, thy ghost I invocate: Prosper this realm, keep it from civil broils, Combat with adverse planets in the heavens! A far more glorious star thy soul will make Than Julius Caesar or bright—

BEDFORD

Stop, stop these arguments, you two and relax a little. Let's get on with the funeral, messengers are waiting for us. We will offer our weapons to the altar instead of gold, since there is no use for weapons now that Henry is dead. Future generations, years of misery await you, when babies will only be fed by their mothers' tears. Our island will feed on salty tears, and only women will be left to mourn the dead. I call on your ghost, Henry the Fifth. Make this country rich and keep it free of conflict. Fight with the planets in the sky that try to prevent this! After all, your soul will transform into a more famous star than Julius Caesar or shining—

Enter a Messenger

MESSENGER

My honourable lords, health to you all! Sad tidings bring I to you out of France, Of loss, of slaughter and discomfiture: Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Orleans, Paris, Guysors, Poictiers, are all quite lost.

MESSENGER

Honorable lords, I wish you all well! I bring bad news to you from France; news of loss, killings and absolute defeat. We have lost Guienne, Champagne, Rheims, Orleans, Paris, Guysors, and Poictiers. 

BEDFORD

What say'st thou, man, before dead Henry's corse? Speak softly, or the loss of those great towns Will make him burst his lead and rise from death.

BEDFORD

What are you saying? And why are you saying it before the body of the dead Henry? Speak quietly, or else he might break out of his lead-lined coffin and rise from the dead, if he hears about the loss of those great towns. 

GLOUCESTER

Is Paris lost? is Rouen yielded up?If Henry were recall'd to life again,These news would cause him once more yield the ghost.

GLOUCESTER

Has Paris been lost? And did Rouen surrender? If Henry were brought back to life, that news would make him die again. 

EXETER

How were they lost? What treachery was used?

EXETER

How were they lost? Was treason involved? 

MESSENGER

No treachery; but want of men and money. Amongst the soldiers this is muttered, That here you maintain several factions, And whilst a field should be dispatch'd and fought, You are disputing of your generals: One would have lingering wars with little cost; Another would fly swift, but wanteth wings; A third thinks, without expense at all, By guileful fair words peace may be obtain'd. Awake, awake, English nobility! Let not sloth dim your horrors new-begot: Cropp'd are the flower-de-luces in your arms; Of England's coat one half is cut away.

MESSENGER

No treason—there weren't enough men and we needed more money. The soldiers were saying that you have opposing groups here, and instead of sending out men to fight, you are arguing about your generals. One general wants to delay the war and save money. Another wants to act quickly and fly, but has no wings to do so. A third one thinks that peace can be brought about with deceitful words and with no money spent at all. You have to wake up, English aristocrats! Don't let your laziness cloud your vision of these new horrors. The flower-de-luces are cut out of your coat of arms, so half of England's coat of arms is already gone.

EXETER

Were our tears wanting to this funeral,These tidings would call forth their flowing tides.

EXETER

If we didn't cry enough at this funeral, this news will surely make us cry more. 

BEDFORD

Me they concern; Regent I am of France. Give me my steeled coat. I'll fight for France. Away with these disgraceful wailing robes! Wounds will I lend the French instead of eyes, To weep their intermissive miseries.

BEDFORD

As Regent of France, I am concerned about this. Give me my armor. I'll fight for France. Put away these shameful mourning clothes! I will not cry for the miseries in France but will instead fight for them and offer up my body. 

Enter to them another Messenger

MESSENGER

Lords, view these letters full of bad mischance. France is revolted from the English quite, Except some petty towns of no import: The Dauphin Charles is crowned king of Rheims; The Bastard of Orleans with him is join'd; Reignier, Duke of Anjou, doth take his part; The Duke of Alencon flieth to his side.

MESSENGER

Lords, take a look at these letters which tell of horror. France is rebelling against the English, other than some small towns of no importance. The Dauphin Charles is crowned king of Rheims and he is joined by the Bastard of Orleans. Reignier, Duke of Anjou is also with them, and the Duke of Alencon ran to support him.

EXETER

The Dauphin crowned king! All fly to him!O, whither shall we fly from this reproach?

EXETER

The Dauphin has been made king! And they all run to him! Oh, how can we escape this shame? 

GLOUCESTER

We will not fly, but to our enemies' throats.Bedford, if thou be slack, I'll fight it out.

GLOUCESTER

We won't run, unless we run toward the throats of our enemies. Bedford, if you're too lazy, I will fight. 

BEDFORD

Gloucester, why doubt'st thou of my forwardness?An army have I muster'd in my thoughts,Wherewith already France is overrun.

BEDFORD

Why do you doubt that I am ready to fight, Gloucester? In my mind, I imagine that I have already gathered an army and invaded France. 

Enter another Messenger

MESSENGER

My gracious lords, to add to your laments, Wherewith you now bedew King Henry's hearse, I must inform you of a dismal fight Betwixt the stout Lord Talbot and the French.

MESSENGER

Kind lords, I bring more sad news to add to your sorrows. While you were here, mourning King Henry's coffin and crying over him, there was a disastrous fight between the bold Lord Talbot and the French.

WINCHESTER

What! Wherein Talbot overcame? Is't so?

WINCHESTER

What? And Talbot lost this fight? Is that right? 

MESSENGER

O, no; wherein Lord Talbot was o'erthrown: The circumstance I'll tell you more at large. The tenth of August last this dreadful lord, Retiring from the siege of Orleans, Having full scarce six thousand in his troop. By three and twenty thousand of the French Was round encompassed and set upon. No leisure had he to enrank his men; He wanted pikes to set before his archers; Instead whereof sharp stakes pluck'd out of hedges They pitched in the ground confusedly, To keep the horsemen off from breaking in. More than three hours the fight continued; Where valiant Talbot above human thought Enacted wonders with his sword and lance: Hundreds he sent to hell, and none durst stand him; Here, there, and every where, enraged he flew: The French exclaim'd, the devil was in arms; All the whole army stood agazed on him: His soldiers spying his undaunted spirit A Talbot! A Talbot! Cried out amain And rush'd into the bowels of the battle. Here had the conquest fully been seal'd up, If Sir John Fastolfe had not play'd the coward: He, being in the vaward, placed behind With purpose to relieve and follow them, Cowardly fled, not having struck one stroke. Hence grew the general wreck and massacre; Enclosed were they with their enemies: A base Walloon, to win the Dauphin's grace, Thrust Talbot with a spear into the back, Whom all France with their chief assembled strength Durst not presume to look once in the face.

MESSENGER

Oh no, I will tell you more about how Talbot was defeated. On the 10th of August, this frightening man left the blockade at Orleans. He had barely 6000 soldiers. They were completely surrounded by 23,000 French soldiers. He couldn't put his men back into battle formation. He wanted to put pikes in the ground in front of his archers to protect them from the enemy, but sharp spears attacked them from the hedges. So, they sank to the ground, confused, to try and keep the men on horses from breaking in. The fight continued for more than three hours, when brave Talbot, seemingly superhuman, carried out wonders with his sword and spear. He sent hundreds of men to hell and none dared to stand against him. He was flying around angrily, all over the place. "The devil is here!" cried the French. The whole army was looking at him, amazed. His soldiers were carefully watching his unbreakable spirit. "Talbot! Talbot!" they cried out with all their strength and hurried to the center of the battle. This is where the battle would have ended, if John Fastolfe had not been such a coward. He should have followed and helped them, since he was at the front of the troops. But instead he ran away like a coward and didn't even use his sword once. This is when the real ruin and massacre started—once they were surrounded by their enemies. A lowly Walloon wanted to win the Dauphin's favor and so he thrust his spear into Talbot's back. Now all of France does not want to look Talbot in the face, not even after they have gathered all their strength. 

BEDFORD

Is Talbot slain? Then I will slay myself, For living idly here in pomp and ease, Whilst such a worthy leader, wanting aid, Unto his dastard foemen is betray'd.

BEDFORD

Is Talbot dead? Then, I will kill myself, because being lazy and living in luxurious comfort, while such a noble leader is destroyed by his cowardly enemies, is betrayal. 

MESSENGER

O no, he lives; but is took prisoner,And Lord Scales with him and Lord Hungerford:Most of the rest slaughter'd or took likewise.

MESSENGER

Oh, no, he lives. But he is a prisoner, along with Lord Scales and Lord Hungerford. The others were either killed or also taken prisoner.

BEDFORD

His ransom there is none but I shall pay: I'll hale the Dauphin headlong from his throne: His crown shall be the ransom of my friend; Four of their lords I'll change for one of ours. Farewell, my masters; to my task will I; Bonfires in France forthwith I am to make, To keep our great Saint George's feast withal: Ten thousand soldiers with me I will take, Whose bloody deeds shall make all Europe quake.

BEDFORD

I don't care how much I have to pay to get him out, I will pay it. I'll drag the Dauphin from his throne and his crown will be the price I pay to bring back my friend. I will exchange four of their lords for one of ours. Goodbye, my lords, I need to carry out this job. I will make fires in France, to celebrate our holiday—Saint George's celebration. I will take 10,000 soldiers with me and their bloody actions will shake all of Europe. 

MESSENGER

So you had need; for Orleans is besieged; The English army is grown weak and faint: The Earl of Salisbury craveth supply, And hardly keeps his men from mutiny, Since they, so few, watch such a multitude.

MESSENGER

You should do that, since Orleans is surrounded. The English army is becoming weak. The Earl of Salisbury needs help. He can't stop his men from rebelling, since the few he has left have to watch such a huge army. 

EXETER

Remember, lords, your oaths to Henry sworn,Either to quell the Dauphin utterly,Or bring him in obedience to your yoke.

EXETER

You should remember what you swore to Henry, lords. Either we crush the Dauphin completely, or we make him our obedient slave. 

BEDFORD

I do remember it; and here take my leave,To go about my preparation.

BEDFORD

I remember it and am leaving now to prepare. 

Exit

GLOUCESTER

I'll to the Tower with all the haste I can,To view the artillery and munition;And then I will proclaim young Henry king.

GLOUCESTER

I'll go to the Tower, as fast as I can, to check out the state of our weapons. And then I will announce that young Henry is king. 

Exit

EXETER

To Eltham will I, where the young king is,Being ordain'd his special governor,And for his safety there I'll best devise.

EXETER

I will go to Eltham, where the young king is. I am his guardian, after all and am in charge of his safety. 

Exit

WINCHESTER

Each hath his place and function to attend: I am left out; for me nothing remains. But long I will not be Jack out of office: The king from Eltham I intend to steal And sit at chiefest stern of public weal.

WINCHESTER

Each of you has somewhere to go and something to do. I am the only one left out, there is nothing for me to do. But I will not be like someone who has been told to leave his rightful place. I am planning to steal the king from Eltham and so assume the highest position from Exeter and control the state. 

Exeunt

Henry vi part 1
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Henry VI, Part 1 Translation as a printable PDF.
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
Nina romancikova
About the Translator: Nina Romancikova

Nina Romancikova is from Slovakia but her love of literature and theater has brought her to the UK and she has been living and studying there for the past six years. She graduated with a degree in English Literature and Language at University of Glasgow in 2016. Nina is now finishing her Masters in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and is currently working as a Research Intern at Shakespeare's Globe.