Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: King John (Modern)
  • Editor: Michael Best
  • General textual editor: Eric Rasmussen
  • Coordinating editor: Michael Best
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-410-3

    Copyright Michael Best. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Michael Best
    Not Peer Reviewed

    King John (Modern)

    Enter Salisbury, Pembroke, and Bigot.
    I did not think the King so stored with friends.
    Up once again! Put spirit in the French.
    If they miscarry, we miscarry too.
    That misbegotten devil Falconbridge,
    In spite of spite, alone upholds the day.
    They say King John, sore sick, hath left the field.
    Enter Melun, wounded, [led by a soldier].
    Lead me to the revolts of England here.
    When we were happy, we had other names.
    It is the Count Melun.
    Wounded to death.
    Fly noble English! You are bought and sold.
    Unthread the rude eye of rebellion
    And welcome home again discarded faith.
    Seek out King John and fall before his feet,
    2475For if the French be lords of this loud day,
    He means to recompense the pains you take
    By cutting off your heads. Thus hath he sworn,
    And I with him, and many more with me,
    Upon the Altar at Saint Edmondsbury,
    2480Even on that altar, where we swore to you
    Dear amity and everlasting love.
    May this be possible? May this be true?
    Have I not hideous death within my view,
    Retaining but a quantity of life,
    2485Which bleeds away, even as a form of wax
    Resolveth from his figure 'gainst the fire?
    What in the world should make me now deceive,
    Since I must lose the use of all deceit?
    Why should I then be false, since it is true
    2490That I must die here and live hence by truth?
    I say again, if Lewis do win the day,
    He is forsworn if e'er those eyes of yours
    Behold another daybreak in the east.
    But even this night, whose black contagious breath
    2495Already smokes about the burning crest
    Of the old, feeble, and day-wearied sun,
    Even this ill night, your breathing shall expire,
    Paying the fine of rated treachery
    Even with a treacherous fine of all your lives,
    2500If Lewis by your assistance win the day.
    Commend me to one Hubert, with your King.
    The love of him, and this respect besides,
    For that my grandsire was an Englishman,
    Awakes my conscience to confess all this.
    2505In lieu whereof, I pray you bear me hence
    From forth the noise and rumor of the field,
    Where I may think the remnant of my thoughts
    In peace, and part this body and my soul
    With contemplation and devout desires.
    We do believe thee, and beshrew my soul,
    But I do love the favor and the form
    Of this most fair occasion, by the which
    We will untread the steps of damnèd flight,
    And like a bated and retirèd flood,
    2515Leaving our rankness and irregular course,
    Stoop low within those bounds we have o'er-looked
    And calmly run on in obedience
    Even to our ocean, to our great King John.
    My arm shall give thee help to bear thee hence,
    2520For I do see the cruel pangs of death
    Right in thine eye. Away, my friends! New flight,
    And happy newness, that intends old right.