Richard II

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Richard alone
study (v.) 1 deliberate, meditate, reflect [on]


I have been studying how I may compare

This prison where I live unto the world;

And for because the world is populous,

And here is not a creature but myself,

I cannot do it. Yet I'll hammer it out.
hammer out (v.) puzzle out, work hard at, work out

My brain I'll prove the female to my soul,

My soul the father, and these two beget

A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
generation (n.) 1 family, progeny
still-breeding (adj.) always reproducing, perpetually generating

And these same thoughts people this little world,

In humours like the people of this world.
humour (n.) 1 mood, disposition, frame of mind, temperament [as determined by bodily fluids] See Topics: Frequency count

For no thought is contented; the better sort,

As thoughts of things divine, are intermixed

With scruples, and do set the word itself
scruple (n.) 3 scrupulousness, introspective doubt
word (n.) 4 word of God

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.’
postern (n.) entrance, side gate, back door
thread (v.) trace a path through, make a way through

Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot

Unlikely wonders – how these vain weak nails

May tear a passage through the flinty ribs

Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
ragged (adj.) 3 rough-hewn, dilapidated, rugged

And for they cannot, die in their own pride.

Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
content (n.) 3 acceptance, acquiescence

That they are not the first of Fortune's slaves,

Nor shall not be the last; like seely beggars,
seely (adj.) miserable, pathetic; or: simple-minded
silly (adj.) 1 helpless, defenceless, vulnerable

Who, sitting in the stocks, refuge their shame
refuge (v.) shelter from, take refuge from

That many have, and others must sit there.

And in this thought they find a kind of ease,

Bearing their own misfortunes on the back

Of such as have before endured the like.
like, the the same

Thus play I in one person many people,

And none contented. Sometimes am I king.

Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar;

And 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,
unking (v.) depose, dethrone, deprive of kingship

And straight am nothing. But whate'er I be,
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

Nor 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.
proportion (n.) 10 proper rhythm, correct value [of notes]
time (n.) 15 rhythm, tempo, measure

So 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,
check (v.) 1 rebuke, scold, reprimand
string (n.) stringed instrument
time (n.) 15 rhythm, tempo, measure

But for the concord of my state and time,

Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
time (n.) 7 circumstance, particular occasion

I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;

For now hath time made me his numbering clock.
numbering (adj.) counting out, measuring

My thoughts are minutes, and with sighs they jar
jar (v.) 3 [unclear meaning] make tick; strike; make discordant

Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch
watch (n.) 4 time interval, period of time
watch (n.) 5 dial, clock face

Whereto my finger, like a dial's point,
dial (n.) watch, timepiece, pocket sundial
point (n.) 8 finger, hand, pointer

Is pointing still in cleansing them from tears.
still (adv.) 1 constantly, always, continually See Topics: Frequency count

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
time (n.) 9 time interval, specific period of time

Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy,
post (v.) 1 hasten, speed, ride fast

While I stand fooling here, his jack of the clock.
jack (n.) 2 figure of a man who strikes a bell on the outside of a clock

This music mads me. Let it sound no more;
mad (v.) 1 madden, exasperate, infuriate

For though it have holp madmen to their wits,

In me it seems it will make wise men mad.

Yet 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.
all-hating (adj.) hating everything, hateful
brooch (n.) jewel, ornament
strange (adj.) 2 rare, singular, exceptional

Enter a Groom of the stable


Hail, royal prince!


                         Thanks, noble peer.

The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear.

What art thou, and how comest thou hither

Where no man never comes but that sad dog
dog (n.) 1 fellow, individual
sad (adj.) 2 dismal, morose, sullen

That brings me food to make misfortune live?


I was a poor groom of thy stable, King,

When thou wert king; who travelling towards York

With much ado at length have gotten leave

To look upon my sometimes royal master's face.
sometimes (adj.) sometime, former, at one time

O, how it earned my heart when I beheld
earn (v.) 2 grieve, sadden, wound

In London streets, that coronation day,

When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
roan (adj.) with a coat of mixed colour

That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,

That horse that I so carefully have dressed!
dress (v.) 3 [of horses] train, break in; groom


Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
gentle (adj.) 2 courteous, friendly, kind

How went he under him?


So proudly as if he disdained the ground.


So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!

That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag

This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
clap (v.) 2 pat, slap on the back [as an endearment]

Would 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,
rail (v.) rant, rave, be abusive [about] See Topics: Frequency count

Since thou, created to be awed by man,
awe (v.) 2 control, restrain, master

Wast 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.
gall (v.) 2 chafe, rub, make sore
jauncing (adj.) prancing, romping, gambolling

Enter Keeper to Richard with meat
meat (n.) 1 food, nourishment
place (n.) 6 way, room


(to Groom)

Fellow, give place. Here is no longer stay.


(to Groom)

If thou love me, 'tis time thou wert away.


What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.



My lord, will't please you to fall to?
fall to, fall to it (v.) set to work, begin eating


Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do.
wont (v.) be accustomed, used [to], be in the habit of See Topics: Frequency count


My lord, I dare not. Sir Pierce of Exton,

Who lately came from the King, commands the contrary.


(attacks the keeper)

The devil take Henry of Lancaster, and thee.

Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.


Help, help, help!

The murderers, Exton and servants, rush in
rude (adj.) 1 violent, harsh, unkind


How now! What means death in this rude assault?

Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.

He snatches a weapon from a servant and kills him
room (n.) 1 place, space

Go thou, and fill another room in hell.

He kills another servant. Here Exton strikes him


That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire

That staggers thus my person. Exton, thy fierce hand
stagger (v.) 2 make stagger, cause to reel

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 valour 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.

Take hence the rest, and give them burial here.

Exeunt with the bodies

  Previous scene     Next scene