King Edward III


Text
Act I
Act II
Act III
Act IV
Act V
Enter King John and Charles


KING JOHN

A sudden darkness hath defaced the sky,

The winds are crept into their caves for fear,

The leaves move not, the world is hushed and still,

The birds cease singing, and the wand'ring brooks

Murmur no wonted greeting to their shores.
wonted (adj.) accustomed, usual, customary

Silence attends some wonder, and expecteth
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

That heaven should pronounce some prophecy.

Where or from whom proceeds this silence, Charles?


CHARLES

Our men, with open mouths and staring eyes,

Look on each other, as they did attend
attend (v.) 7 listen [to], pay attention [to]
attend (v.) 1 await, wait for, expect See Topics: Frequency count

Each other's words, and yet no creature speaks.

A tongue-tied fear hath made a midnight hour,

And speeches sleep through all the waking regions.


KING JOHN

But now the pompous sun in all his pride
pompous (adj.) 1 glorious, magnificent, splendid

Looked through his golden coach upon the world,

And on a sudden hath he hid himself,

That now the under earth is as a grave,

Dark, deadly, silent, and uncomfortable.
uncomfortable (adj.) 2 comfortless, disquieting, uneasy

A clamour of ravens

Hark, what a deadly outcry do I hear?

Enter Philip


CHARLES

Here comes my brother Philip.


KING JOHN

                         All dismayed.

What fearful words are those thy looks presage?
presage (v.) 1 signify, indicate


PHILIP

A flight, a flight!


KING JOHN

Coward, what flight? Thou liest, there needs no flight.


PHILIP

A flight!


KING JOHN

Awake thy craven powers, and tell on
craven (adj.) cowardly, spineless, weak-hearted

The substance of that very fear indeed

Which is so ghastly printed in thy face.

What is the matter?


PHILIP

                         A flight of ugly ravens

Do croak and hover o'er our soldiers' heads,

And keep in triangles and cornered squares,

Right as our forces are embattled.
embattle (v.) deploy, draw up, marshal

With their approach there came this sudden fog,

Which now hath hid the airy floor of heaven

And made at noon a night unnatural

Upon the quaking and dismayed world.

In brief, our soldiers have let fall their arms

And stand like metamorphosed images,
metamorphosed (adj.) turned into stone, transformed, petrified

Bloodless and pale, one gazing on another.


KING JOHN

Ay, now I call to mind the prophecy,

But I must give no entrance to a fear. –

Return, and hearten up these yielding souls:

Tell them the ravens, seeing them in arms,

So many fair against a famished few,
fair (adv.) 4 in fine array, brightly laid out

Come but to dine upon their handiwork

And prey upon the carrion that they kill.

For when we see a horse laid down to die,

Although not dead, the ravenous birds

Sit watching the departure of his life,

Even so these ravens, for the carcasses

Of those poor English that are marked to die,

Hover about, and, if they cry to us,

'Tis but for meat that we must kill for them.

Away, and comfort up my soldiers,

And sound the trumpets, and at once dispatch
dispatch, despatch (v.) 1 deal with promptly, settle, get [something] done quickly

This little business of a silly fraud.
fraud (n.) 1 delusion, deception, trick
silly (adj.) 3 foolish, stupid, ludicrous

Exit Philip

Another noise. Salisbury brought in by a French Captain
mo, moe (adj.) more [in number]


CAPTAIN

Behold, my liege, this knight and forty mo,

Of whom the better part are slain and fled,

With all endeavour sought to break our ranks
break (v.) 15 burst open, break through

And make their way to the encompassed prince.
encompassed (adj.) surrounded, encircled, enclosed

Dispose of him as please your majesty.


KING JOHN

Go, and the next bough, soldier, that thou seest,

Disgrace it with his body presently;
presently (adv.) 1 immediately, instantly, at once See Topics: Frequency count

For I do hold a tree in France too good

To be the gallows of an English thief.


SALISBURY

My Lord of Normandy, I have your pass

And warrant for my safety through this land.
warrant (n.) 2 licence, sanction, authorization


CHARLES

Villiers procured it for thee, did he not?


SALISBURY

He did.


CHARLES

And it is current: thou shalt freely pass.


KING JOHN

Ay, freely to the gallows to be hanged,

Without denial or impediment.

Away with him!


CHARLES

I hope your highness will not so disgrace me

And dash the virtue of my seal at arms.
dash (v.) 4 diminish, infringe, destroy
seal at arms seal bearing a coat of arms
virtue (n.) 4 power, capability, efficacy, property

He hath my never broken name to show,
name (n.) 9 signature [representing a pledge]

Charactered with this princely hand of mine;
character (v.) inscribe, engrave, write

And rather let me leave to be a prince
leave (v.) 1 cease, stop, give up

Than break the stable verdict of a prince.
stable (adj.) 1 constant, immutable, firm
verdict (n.) 2 decision, pledge, final word

I do beseech you, let him pass in quiet.


KING JOHN

Thou and thy word lie both in my command.

What canst thou promise that I cannot break?

Which of these twain is greater infamy:

To disobey thy father or thyself?

Thy word, nor no man's, may exceed his power,
power (n.) 5 exercise of power, authoritative action

Nor that same man doth never break his word

That keeps it to the utmost of his power.

The breach of faith dwells in the soul's consent,

Which, if thyself without consent do break,

Thou art not charged with the breach of faith.

Go, hang him: for thy licence lies in me,
constraint (n.) compulsion, coercion, enforcing
licence (n.) 1 authority to act, freedom of action

And my constraint stands the excuse for thee.
excuse (n.) pardon, dispensation, exoneration
stand (v.) 9 act as, be, hold good as


CHARLES

What, am I not a soldier in my word?

Then, arms, adieu, and let them fight that list.
list (v.) 1 wish, like, please

Shall I not give my girdle from my waist,
girdle (n.) 2 belt See Topics: Weapons

But with a guardian I shall be controlled

To say I may not give my things away?

Upon my soul, had Edward Prince of Wales

Engaged his word, writ down his noble hand,

For all your knights to pass his father's land,

The royal king, to grace his warlike son,
grace (v.) 1 favour, add merit to, do honour to

Would not alone safe-conduct give to them,

But with all bounty feasted them and theirs.
bounty (n.) 1 great generosity, gracious liberality, munificence


KING JOHN

Dwell'st thou on precedents? Then be it so!
precedent (n.) 2 worthy example, model to be followed [in mediaeval chivalry]

Say, Englishman, of what degree thou art.
degree (n.) 1 rank, station, standing


SALISBURY

An earl in England, though a prisoner here,

And those that know me call me Salisbury.


KING JOHN

Then, Salisbury, say whither thou art bound.


SALISBURY

To Calais, where my liege King Edward is.


KING JOHN

To Calais, Salisbury? Then to Calais pack,
pack (v.) 1 take [oneself] off, be off, depart

And bid the king prepare a noble grave

To put his princely son, black Edward, in.

And as thou travel'st westward from this place,

Some two leagues hence, there is a lofty hill

Whose top seems topless, for the embracing sky

Doth hide his high head in her azure bosom,
azure, azured (adj.) coloured blue, bright blue [as of an uncloudy sky]

Upon whose tall top, when thy foot attains,

Look back upon the humble vale beneath,

Humble of late, but now made proud with arms,

And thence behold the wretched Prince of Wales,

Hooped with a bond of iron round about.
bond (n.) 5 shackle, chain, fetter

After which sight, to Calais spur amain,
amain (adv.) 1 in all haste, at full speed

And say the prince was smothered and not slain;

And tell the king this is not all his ill,
ill (n.) 2 trouble, affliction, misfortune

For I will greet him ere he thinks I will.

Away, be gone; the smoke but of our shot

Will choke our foes, though bullets hit them not.

Exeunt

 
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