Henry V

Prologue to Act III

[Flourish. Enter Chorus.]


Thus with imagin'd 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 ship-boys climbing;

Hear the shrill whistle which doth order give

To sounds confus'd; behold the threaden sails,

Borne with the invisible and creeping wind,

Draw the huge bottoms through the furrow'd sea,

Breasting the lofty surge. O, do but think

You stand upon the rivage and behold

A city on the 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 arriv'd to pith and puissance.

For who is he, whose chin is but enrich'd

With one appearing hair, that will not follow

These cull'd 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 the ambassador from the French comes back,

Tells Harry that the King doth offer him

Katharine 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,

[Alarum, and chambers go off.]

And down goes all before them. Still be kind,

And eke out our performance with your mind.