King Edward III

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Prince Edward, Audley, and others


Audley, the arms of death embrace us round,

And comfort have we none, save that to die

We pay sour earnest for a sweeter life.
earnest (n.) pledge, instalment, deposit, payment in advance

At Crécy field our clouds of warlike smoke
field (n.) 1 field of battle, battleground, field of combat See Topics: Frequency count

Choked up those French mouths and dissevered them;
dissever (v.) divide, split up, separate

But now their multitudes of millions hide,

Masking, as 'twere, the beauteous burning sun,

Leaving no hope to us but sullen dark

And eyeless terror of all-ending night.
all-ending (adj.) bringing an end to everything, doom-laden
eyeless (adj.) blind, sightless, unseeing


This sudden, mighty, and expedient head
expedient (adj.) speedy, rapid, expeditious
head (n.) 6 headway, progress, advance

That they have made, fair prince, is wonderful.
wonderful (adj.) amazing, astonishing, extraordinary

Before us in the valley lies the king,

Vantaged with all that heaven and earth can yield,
vantage (v.) benefit, aid, help

His party stronger battled than our whole.
battled (adv.) in battalions, with deployed troops

His son, the braving Duke of Normandy,
braving (adj.) defiant, daring, boasting

Hath trimmed the mountain on our right hand up
trim up, trim (v.) 1 decorate, array, deck out

In shining plate, that now the aspiring hill
plate (n.) 2 armour, plate-armour

Shows like a silver quarry, or an orb,
orb (n.) 4 rounded mass, ring, crown

Aloft the which the banners, bannerets,
banneret (n.) 1 standard of a knight entitled to lead his own body of troops

And new-replenished pendants cuff the air
new-replenished (adj.) repeatedly blown out by the wind to their full length
pendant (n.) long narrow flag, pennon, pennant

And beat the winds, that for their gaudiness

Struggles to kiss them. On our left hand lies

Philip, the younger issue of the king,
issue (n.) 1 child(ren), offspring, family, descendant See Topics: Frequency count

Coting the other hill in such array
cote (v.) 1 [from the movement of dogs in hare coursing] overtake, outstrip, pass by

That all his gilded upright pikes do seem

Straight trees of gold, the pendants, leaves;
pendant (n.) long narrow flag, pennon, pennant

And their device of antique heraldry,
antic, antick(e), antique (adj.) 2 ancient, olden, former
device (n.) 11 heraldic design, emblematic figure, armorial

Quartered in colours, seeming sundry fruits,
colours (n.) 3 emblems, badges
quarter (n.) 4 divide into quarters [on a flag or shield]
sundry (adj.) many, different, various

Makes it the orchard of the Hesperides.

Behind us too the hill doth bear his height,

For, like a half-moon opening but one way,

It rounds us in: there at our back are lodged

The fatal crossbows, and the battle there
battle (n.) 1 army, fighting force, battalion

Is governed by the rough Chattillon.

Then thus it stands: the valley for our flight

The king binds in; the hills on either hand
bind in (v.) make fast, secure, surround

Are proudly royalized by his sons;
royalize (v.) make royal, invest with a majestic character

And on the hill behind stands certain death

In pay and service with Chattillon.


Death's name is much more mighty than his deeds:

Thy parcelling this power hath made it more
parcelling (n.) dividing up, itemizing, listing
power (n.) 1 armed force, troops, host, army See Topics: Frequency count

Than all the world, and call it but a power.
power (n.) 2 single force, one power

As many sands as these my hands can hold

Are but my handful of so many sands,

Easily ta'en up, and quickly thrown away.

But if I stand to count them sand by sand,

The number would confound my memory,
confound (v.) 6 amaze, dumbfound, stun

And make a thousand millions of a task

Which briefly is no more indeed than one.

These quarters, squadrons, and these regiments,
quarter (n.) 5 army division, unit of soldiers
squadron (n.) army detachment, body of soldiers

Before, behind us, and on either hand,

Are but a power. When we name a man,
name (v.) 1 give particulars of, speak about, describe
power (n.) 2 single force, one power

His hand, his foot, his head hath several strengths;
several (adj.) 1 separate, different, distinct See Topics: Frequency count

And being all but one self instant strength,
self instant (adj.) individually present, self-contained

Why, all this many, Audley, is but one,

And we can call it all but one man's strength.

He that hath far to go tells it by miles:
tell (v.) 1 count out, number, itemize

If he should tell by steps, it kills his heart.

The drops are infinite that make a flood,

And yet thou know'st we call it but a rain.

There is but one France, one king of France:

That France hath no more kings, and that same king

Hath but the puissant legion of one king,
legion (n.) army, power, force
puissant (adj.) powerful, mighty, strong

And we have one. Then apprehend no odds,
apprehend (v.) 3 be apprehensive about, fear
odds (n. plural) 2 inequalities, unfavourable circumstances

For one to one is fair equality.

Enter a Herald from King John


What tidings, messenger? Be plain and brief.


The King of France, my sovereign lord and master,

Greets by me his foe, the Prince of Wales.

If thou call forth a hundred men of name,
name (n.) 1 reputation, fame, renown

Of lords, knights, squires, and English gentlemen,

And with thyself and those kneel at his feet,

He straight will fold his bloody colours up,
colours (n.) 1 battle-flags, ensigns, standards, banners See Topics: Frequency count
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

And ransom shall redeem lives forfeited;

If not, this day shall drink more English blood

Than e'er was buried in our Breton earth.

What is the answer to this proffered mercy?


This heaven that covers France contains the mercy

That draws from me submissive orisons.
orison (n.) prayer, plea

That such base breath should vanish from my lips,
base (adj.) 1 dishonourable, low, unworthy See Topics: Frequency count
vanish (v.) leave, depart from, be expelled

To urge the plea of mercy to a man,

The Lord forbid! Return and tell the king:

My tongue is made of steel, and it shall beg

My mercy on his coward burgonet.
burgonet (n.) [type of] small light helmet See Topics: Body-armour

Tell him my colours are as red as his,
colours (n.) 1 battle-flags, ensigns, standards, banners See Topics: Frequency count

My men as bold, our English arms as strong.

Return him my defiance in his face.


I go.


Enter another Herald


What news with thee?


The Duke of Normandy, my lord and master,

Pitying thy youth is so engirt with peril,
engirt (adj.) surrounded, encircled, hemmed in

By me hath sent a nimble-jointed jennet,
jennet, gennet (n.) small Spanish horse

As swift as ever yet thou didst bestride,
bestride (v.) 2 mount, ride, sit upon

And therewithal he counsels thee to fly,
counsel (v.) advise, urge

Else death himself hath sworn that thou shalt die.


Back with the beast unto the beast that sent him!

Tell him I cannot sit a coward's horse.

Bid him today bestride the jade himself,
bestride (v.) 2 mount, ride, sit upon
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

For I will stain my horse quite o'er with blood

And double gild my spurs, but I will catch him.

So tell the cap'ring boy, and get thee gone.
capering (adj.) prancing, cavorting, frolicsome

Exit Herald

Enter another Herald


Edward of Wales, Philip, the second son

To the most mighty Christian King of France,

Seeing thy body's living date expired,

All full of charity and Christian love,

Commends this book, full fraught with prayers,
commend (v.) 2 commit, entrust, hand over
fraught (adj.) filled, laden, packed

To thy fair hand, and, for thy hour of life,

Entreats thee that thou meditate therein,

And arm thy soul for her long journey towards.
towards (adv.) at hand, approaching, imminent

Thus have I done his bidding, and return.


Herald of Philip, greet thy lord from me.

All good that he can send, I can receive.

But think'st thou not, the unadvised boy
unadvised (adj.) rash, foolhardy, thoughtless, unconsidered

Hath wronged himself in thus far tend'ring me?
tender (v.) 2 feel concern for, hold dear, care for

Haply he cannot pray without the book:
haply (adv.) perhaps, maybe, by chance, with luck See Topics: Frequency count

I think him no divine extemporal.
divine (n.) 1 clergyman, priest, parson
extemporal (n.) extempore, improvised, impromptu

Then render back this commonplace of prayer
commonplace (n.) commonplace book, collection, compilation
render (v.) 3 give back [to], return [to]

To do himself good in adversity.

Besides, he knows not my sins' quality,

And therefore knows no prayers for my avail.
avail (n.) advantage, benefit, aid

Ere night his prayer may be to pray to God

To put it in my heart to hear his prayer.

So tell the courtly wanton, and be gone.
courtly (adj.) belonging to the court, connected with the court
wanton (n.) 5 young rogue, scamp, rascal


I go.



How confident their strength and number makes them!

Now, Audley, sound those silver wings of thine,

And let those milk-white messengers of time

Show thy time's learning in this dangerous time.

Thyself art busy and bit with many broils,
bit (adj.) marked, scarred
broil (n.) 1 turmoil, confused fighting, battle
busy (adj.) 1 always engaged, active, constantly occupied

And stratagems forepast with iron pens
forepast, fore-past (adj.) 1 past, previous, former
stratagem (n.) 2 soldierly action, well commanded engagement

Are texted in thine honourable face.
text (v.) engrave, write, inscribe

Thou art a married man in this distress,

But danger woos me as a blushing maid.

Teach me an answer to this perilous time.


To die is all as common as to live:

The one in choice, the other holds in chase;

For, from the instant we begin to live,

We do pursue and hunt the time to die.

First bud we, then we blow, and after seed,
blow (v.) 1 blossom, bloom, flower
seed (v.) mature, yield fruit

Then presently we fall; and, as a shade
presently (adv.) 2 after a short time, soon, before long
shade (n.) 2 shadow, phantom, spirit

Follows the body, so we follow death.

If then we hunt for death, why do we fear it?

If we fear it, why do we follow it?

If we do fear, how can we shun it?

If we do fear, with fear we do but aid

The thing we fear to seize on us the sooner.

If we fear not, then no resolved proffer
proffer (n.) 2 attempt, effort, endeavour
resolved (adj.) 1 determined, settled, decided

Can overthrow the limit of our fate,
limit (n.) 1 prescribed time, fixed period

For, whether ripe or rotten, drop we shall,

As we do draw the lottery of our doom.


Ah, good old man, a thousand thousand armours

These words of thine have buckled on my back.

Ah, what an idiot hast thou made of life,

To seek the thing it fears; and how disgraced

The imperial victory of murd'ring death,

Since all the lives his conquering arrows strike

Seek him, and he not them, to shame his glory.

I will not give a penny for a life,

Nor half a halfpenny to shun grim death,

Since for to live is but to seek to die,

And dying but beginning of new life.

Let come the hour when he that rules it will!

To live or die I hold indifferent.


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