Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Henry V (Modern, Folio)
  • Editor: James D. Mardock
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-409-7

    Copyright James D. Mardock. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: James D. Mardock
    Peer Reviewed

    Henry V (Modern, Folio)

    The Life of Henry the Fifth
    1Enter [Chorus as] Prologue.
    O for a muse of fire, that would ascend
    The brightest heaven of invention,
    A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
    5And monarchs to behold the swelling scene.
    Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
    Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels,
    Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire
    Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
    10The flat unraisèd spirits that hath dared,
    On this unworthy scaffold, to bring forth
    So great an object. Can this cockpit hold
    The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
    Within this wooden O the very casques
    15That did affright the air at Agincourt?
    Oh, pardon, since a crooked figure may
    Attest in little place a million,
    And let us, ciphers to this great account,
    On your imaginary forces work.
    20Suppose within the girdle of these walls
    Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
    Whose high, uprearèd, and abutting fronts
    The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder.
    Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts:
    25Into a thousand parts divide one man,
    And make imaginary puissance.
    Think, when we talk of horses, that you see them
    Printing their proud hooves i'th'receiving earth.
    For 'tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
    30Carry them here and there, jumping o'er times,
    Turning th'accomplishment of many years
    Into an hourglass: for the which supply,
    Admit me Chorus to this history,
    Who, prologue-like, your humble patience pray
    35Gently to hear, kindly to judge our play.