King John

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter King Philip, Lewis the Dauphin, Cardinal

Pandulph, and attendants


So, by a roaring tempest on the flood,
flood (n.) 1 sea, deep, waves, rushing water

A whole armado of convicted sail
armado (n.) armada, fleet, navy
convicted (adj.) defeated, vanquished, conquered
sail (n.) 1 ship, vessel

Is scattered and disjoined from fellowship.
disjoin (v.) disengage, separate [oneself]


Courage and comfort! All shall yet go well.


What can go well, when we have run so ill?
ill (adv.) 1 badly, adversely, unfavourably See Topics: Frequency count
run (v.) 3 follow a course, behave

Are we not beaten? Is not Angiers lost?

Arthur ta'en prisoner? Divers dear friends slain?
divers (adj.) different, various, several

And bloody England into England gone,

O'erbearing interruption, spite of France?
interruption resistance, hindrance, obstruction
overbear (v.) 1 overwhelm, overcome, overpower


What he hath won, that hath he fortified.

So hot a speed, with such advice disposed,
advice (n.) 1 consideration, reflection, deliberation
dispose (v.) 2 carry out, manage, handle
hot (adj.) 4 active, vigorous

Such temperate order in so fierce a cause,

Doth want example. Who hath read or heard
example (n.) precedent, parallel case
want (v.) 1 lack, need, be without See Topics: Frequency count

Of any kindred action like to this?


Well could I bear that England had this praise,

So we could find some pattern of our shame.
pattern (n.) 2 precedent, previous example

Enter Constance

Look who comes here! A grave unto a soul,

Holding th' eternal spirit, against her will,

In the vile prison of afflicted breath.

I prithee, lady, go away with me.


Lo! Now – now see the issue of your peace!
issue (n.) 2 outcome, result, consequence(s) See Topics: Frequency count


Patience, good lady. Comfort, gentle Constance.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


No, I defy all counsel, all redress,
redress (n.) 1 relief, assistance, help, comfort

But that which ends all counsel, true redress –

Death! Death, O amiable, lovely death!

Thou odoriferous stench! Sound rottenness!
odoriferous (adj.) odorous, sweet-smelling, fragrant
sound (adj.) 2 wholesome, beneficial

Arise forth from the couch of lasting night,

Thou hate and terror to prosperity,

And I will kiss thy detestable bones

And put my eyeballs in thy vaulty brows,
brow (n.) 4 forehead [often plural, referring to the two prominences of the forehead]
vaulty (adj.) 2 empty, cavernous, sepulchral

And ring these fingers with thy household worms,

And stop this gap of breath with fulsome dust,
fulsome (adj.) 1 distasteful, nauseating, repulsive
stop (v.) 2 stop up, close (up), shut

And be a carrion monster like thyself.

Come, grin on me, and I will think thou smilest

And buss thee as thy wife. Misery's love,
buss (v.) kiss wantonly, smack against

O, come to me!
affliction (n.) afflicted one, someone in great distress


                         O fair affliction, peace!


No, no, I will not, having breath to cry!

O that my tongue were in the thunder's mouth!

Then with a passion would I shake the world,
passion (n.) 5 passionate outburst, emotional passage

And rouse from sleep that fell anatomy
anatomy (n.) 1 body, skeleton, skin and bones
fell (adj.) 1 cruel, fierce, savage

Which cannot hear a lady's feeble voice,

Which scorns a modern invocation.
invocation (n.) entreaty, supplication
modern (adj.) ordinary, trite, commonplace, everyday


Lady, you utter madness, and not sorrow.


Thou art not holy to belie me so!
belie (v.) 1 slander, tell lies about

I am not mad. This hair I tear is mine.

My name is Constance. I was Geoffrey's wife.

Young Arthur is my son, and he is lost!

I am not mad – I would to heaven I were,

For then 'tis like I should forget myself!
like (adv.) 1 likely, probable / probably See Topics: Frequency count

O, if I could, what grief should I forget!

Preach some philosophy to make me mad,

And thou shalt be canonized, Cardinal.

For, being not mad, but sensible of grief,
sensible (adj.) 1 sensitive, responsive, capable of feeling

My reasonable part produces reason

How I may be delivered of these woes,
deliver (v.) 3 free, release, liberate

And teaches me to kill or hang myself.

If I were mad, I should forget my son,

Or madly think a babe of clouts were he.
clout (n.) 1 piece of cloth, rag; handkerchief

I am not mad – too well, too well I feel

The different plague of each calamity.
different (adj.) 1 distinct, individual, separate
plague (n.) calamity, affliction, scourge


Bind up those tresses! O, what love I note

In the fair multitude of those her hairs!

Where but by chance a silver drop hath fallen,

Even to that drop ten thousand wiry friends

Do glue themselves in sociable grief,

Like true, inseparable, faithful loves,

Sticking together in calamity.


To England, if you will.


                         Bind up your hairs.


Yes, that I will; and wherefore will I do it?

I tore them from their bonds, and cried aloud,

‘ O that these hands could so redeem my son
redeem (v.) 1 free, liberate, extricate

As they have given these hairs their liberty!’

But now I envy at their liberty,
envy, envy at (v.) 2 begrudge, resent, object to

And will again commit them to their bonds,

Because my poor child is a prisoner.

And, father Cardinal, I have heard you say

That we shall see and know our friends in heaven.

If that be true, I shall see my boy again;

For since the birth of Cain, the first male child,

To him that did but yesterday suspire,
suspire (v.) breathe

There was not such a gracious creature born.
gracious (adj.) 1 filled with divine grace, godly, devout

But now will canker-sorrow eat my bud
canker-sorrow (n.) gnawing grief, all-consuming sorrow

And chase the native beauty from his cheek,
native (adj.) 1 natural, habitual, normal

And he will look as hollow as a ghost,

As dim and meagre as an ague's fit,
ague (n.) fever, sickness, shaking [as caused by a fever]
dim (adj.) dull, pale-coloured, lacking lustre

And so he'll die; and, rising so again,

When I shall meet him in the court of heaven

I shall not know him. Therefore never, never

Must I behold my pretty Arthur more.


You hold too heinous a respect of grief.
heinous (adj.) calamitous, terrible, severe


He talks to me that never had a son.


You are as fond of grief as of your child.
fond (adj.) 6 obsessed [with]


Grief fills the room up of my absent child,
room (n.) 1 place, space

Lies in his bed, walks up and down with me,

Puts on his pretty looks, repeats his words,

Remembers me of all his gracious parts,
gracious (adj.) 1 filled with divine grace, godly, devout
remember (v.) 1 remind, bring to someone's mind

Stuffs out his vacant garments with his form;

Then, have I reason to be fond of grief?

Fare you well. Had you such a loss as I,

I could give better comfort than you do.

I will not keep this form upon my head,
form (n.) 4 orderly manner, good arrangement

When there is such disorder in my wit.
wit (n.) 5 mind, brain, thoughts

O Lord! My boy, my Arthur, my fair son!

My life, my joy, my food, my all the world!

My widow-comfort, and my sorrows' cure!



I fear some outrage, and I'll follow her.



There's nothing in this world can make me joy.
joy (v.) 1 feel joy, be happy, rejoice

Life is as tedious as a twice-told tale,

Vexing the dull ear of a drowsy man,
dull (adj.) 2 bored, uninterested, inattentive

And bitter shame hath spoiled the sweet world's taste,

That it yields naught but shame and bitterness.


Before the curing of a strong disease,

Even in the instant of repair and health,
repair (n.) 1 restoration, renewal, recovery

The fit is strongest. Evils that take leave,
evil (n.) 2 malady, illness, disease
fit (n.) 1 fever, attack, seizure

On their departure most of all show evil.

What have you lost by losing of this day?
day (n.) 1 day of battle, contest


All days of glory, joy, and happiness.


If you had won it, certainly you had.

No, no. When fortune means to men most good

She looks upon them with a threatening eye.

'Tis strange to think how much King John hath lost

In this which he accounts so clearly won.
account, accompt (v.) 1 reckon, judge, consider

Are not you grieved that Arthur is his prisoner?


As heartily as he is glad he hath him.


Your mind is all as youthful as your blood.

Now hear me speak with a prophetic spirit;

For even the breath of what I mean to speak

Shall blow each dust, each straw, each little rub,
dust (n.) speck of dust, particle, iota
rub (n.) 1 [bowls] obstacle, impediment, hindrance
straw (n.) trivial matter, trifle

Out of the path which shall directly lead

Thy foot to England's throne. And therefore mark:

John hath seized Arthur, and it cannot be
mark (v.) 1 note, pay attention [to], take notice [of] See Topics: Frequency count

That whiles warm life plays in that infant's veins

The misplaced John should entertain an hour,

One minute, nay, one quiet breath, of rest.
breath (n.) 7 breathing-space, respite

A sceptre snatched with an unruly hand
unruly (adj.) disorderly, violent, unscrupulous

Must be as boisterously maintained as gained;
boisterously (adv.) forcefully, violently, roughly

And he that stands upon a slippery place

Makes nice of no vile hold to stay him up.
nice (adj.) 1 fastidious, particular, fussy, overscrupulous
stay (v.) 15 hold, support, prop [up]
vile, vild (adj.) 2 despicable, disgusting, abhorrent

That John may stand, then Arthur needs must fall.

So be it – for it cannot be but so.


But what shall I gain by young Arthur's fall?


You, in the right of Lady Blanche your wife,

May then make all the claim that Arthur did.


And lose it, life and all, as Arthur did.


How green you are and fresh in this old world!
green (adj.) 2 youthful, inexperienced, immature

John lays you plots; the times conspire with you –
lay (v.) 4 set up, arrange, devise
plot (n.) 1 plan, scheme, stratagem

For he that steeps his safety in true blood
true (adj.) 6 legitimate, rightful, honourable

Shall find but bloody safety and untrue.
untrue (adj.) false, deceptive, deceiving

This act, so evilly borne, shall cool the hearts
bear (v.), past forms bore, borne 2 carry on, manage, conduct [an affair]

Of all his people, and freeze up their zeal,

That none so small advantage shall step forth
advantage (n.) 1 right moment, favourable opportunity

To check his reign, but they will cherish it.
check (v.) 3 take the reins of, control, manage

No natural exhalation in the sky,
exhalation (n.) 1 meteor, shooting star

No scope of nature, no distempered day,
distempered (adj.) 1 troubled, disturbed, inclement
scope (n.) 5 circumstance, course

No common wind, no customed event,
customed (adj.) 1 customary, ordinary, usual

But they will pluck away his natural cause
cause (n.) 2 explanation
pluck away (v.) disregard, reject, throw out

And call them meteors, prodigies and signs,
meteor (n.) aurora, luminous emanation, atmospheric effect
prodigy (n.) 1 omen, portent, sign

Abortives, presages, and tongues of heaven,
abortive (n.) abortion of nature, abnormality
presage (n.) 1 sign, indication, portent

Plainly denouncing vengeance upon John.
denounce (v.) declare, proclaim, announce


Maybe he will not touch young Arthur's life,

But hold himself safe in his prisonment.
prisonment (n.) imprisonment, detention, captivity


O sir, when he shall hear of your approach,

If that young Arthur be not gone already,

Even at that news he dies; and then the hearts

Of all his people shall revolt from him,

And kiss the lips of unacquainted change,
unacquainted unfamiliar, strange, unusual

And pick strong matter of revolt and wrath
matter (n.) 7 pus, discharge, fluid [from a wound]

Out of the bloody fingers' ends of John.

Methinks I see this hurly all on foot;
foot, on 1 in employment, taking place, under way
hurly (n.) commotion, uproar, turmoil
methinks(t), methought(s) (v.) it seems /seemed to me See Topics: Frequency count

And, O, what better matter breeds for you
matter (n.) 5 reason, cause, ground

Than I have named! The bastard Faulconbridge

Is now in England ransacking the church,

Offending charity. If but a dozen French

Were there in arms, they would be as a call
call (n.) decoy, lure, enticement

To train ten thousand English to their side,
train (v.) 1 lure, entice, decoy

Or as a little snow, tumbled about,

Anon becomes a mountain. O noble Dauphin,
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count

Go with me to the King. 'Tis wonderful

What may be wrought out of their discontent,

Now that their souls are topfull of offence.
topfull, topful (adj.) brimful, over-full

For England, go! I will whet on the King.
whet on (v.) encourage, incite, egg on


Strong reasons makes strong actions! Let us go:

If you say ay, the King will not say no.


  Previous scene     Next scene