Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Richard II (Modern)
  • Editor: Catherine Lisak
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-436-3

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Catherine Lisak
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Richard II (Modern)

    Enter [King] Richard, alone.
    King Richard
    I have been studying how I may compare
    This prison where I live unto the world;
    2670And for because the world is populous
    And here is not a creature but myself,
    I cannot do it. Yet I'll hammer it out.
    My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,
    My soul the father, and these two beget
    2675A generation of still-breeding thoughts;
    And these same thoughts people this little world,
    In humors like the people of this world,
    For no thought is contented. The better sort,
    As thoughts of things divine, are intermixed
    2680With scruples, and do set the word itself
    Against the word,
    As thus, "Come, little ones," and then again,
    "It is as hard to come, as for a camel
    To thread the postern of a small needle's eye."
    Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
    2685Unlikely wonders: how these vain weak nails
    May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
    Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
    And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
    Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
    2690That they are not the first of Fortune's slaves,
    Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
    Who, sitting in the stocks, refuge their shame
    That many have and others must sit there.
    And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
    2695Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
    Of such as have before endured the like.
    Thus play I in one person many people,
    And none contented. Sometimes am I king.
    Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
    2700And so I am. Then crushing penury
    Persuades me I was better when a king.
    Then am I kinged again, and by and by
    Think that I am unkinged by Bolingbroke,
    And straight am nothing. But whate'er I be,
    2705Nor I nor any man that but man is
    With nothing shall be pleased till he be eased
    With being nothing.[The music plays.] Music do I hear?
    Ha, ha, keep time! How sour sweet music is
    When time is broke and no proportion kept.
    2710So is it in the music of men's lives.
    And here have I the daintiness of ear
    To check time broke in a disordered string;
    But for the concord of my state and time
    Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
    2715I wasted time, and now doth time waste me!
    For now hath time made me his numb'ring clock.
    My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar
    Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
    Whereto my finger, like a dial's point,
    2720Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears.
    Now, sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
    Are clamorous groans which strike upon my heart,
    Which is the bell. So sighs, and tears, and groans
    Show minutes, times, and hours. But my time
    2725Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy,
    While I stand fooling here, his jack of the clock.
    This music mads me. Let it sound no more,
    For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
    In me it seems it will make wise men mad.
    2730Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me,
    For 'tis a sign of love, and love to Richard
    Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.
    Enter a Groom of the stable.
    Hail, royal Prince!
    2735King Richard
    Thanks, noble peer.
    The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.
    What art thou, and how com'st thou hither
    Where no man never comes but that sad dog
    That brings me food to make misfortune live?
    I was a poor groom of thy stable, King,
    When thou wert king, who, traveling towards York,
    With much ado, at length have gotten leave
    To look upon my sometime royal master's face.
    Oh, how it erned my heart when I beheld
    2745In London streets, that coronation day,
    When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
    That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
    That horse that I so carefully have dressed.
    King Richard
    Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
    2750How went he under him?
    So proudly as if he disdained the ground.
    King Richard
    So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
    That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
    This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
    2755Would he not stumble? Would he not fall down,
    Since pride must have a fall, and break the neck,
    Of that proud man, that did usurp his back?
    Forgiveness, horse! Why do I rail on thee,
    Since thou, created to be awed by man,
    2760Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse,
    And yet I bear a burden like an ass,
    Spurred, galled, and tired by jauncing Bolingbroke.
    Enter [Keeper] to [King] Richard, with meat.
    [To Groom] Fellow, give place. Here is no longer stay.
    2765King Richard
    [To Groom] If thou love me, 'tis time thou wert away.
    What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.
    Exit Groom.
    My lord, will't please you to fall to?
    King Richard
    Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do.
    My lord, I dare not. Sir Pierce of Exton, who lately
    Came from the King, commands the contrary.
    King Richard
    [Striking the Keeper] The devil take Henry of Lancaster, and thee!
    Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.
    Help, help, help!
    2775The murderers, [Exton and his servants,] rush in.
    King Richard
    How, now! What means Death in this rude assault?
    Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.
    [King Richard seizes a weapon from a murderer and kills him with it.]
    Go thou and fill another room in hell!
    [He kills another murderer.]
    Here Exton strikes him down.
    2780King Richard
    That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire
    That staggers thus my person. Exton, thy fierce hand
    Hath with the King's blood stained the King's own land.
    Mount, mount, my soul. Thy seat is up on high,
    Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die.
    [He dies.]
    As full of valor as of royal blood.
    Both have I spilled. O would the deed were good!
    For now the devil that told me I did well
    Says that this deed is chronicled in hell.
    This dead King to the living King I'll bear. --
    2790[To keeper and remaining men] Take hence the rest, and give them burial here.
    [Exeunt with the bodies.]