Act 3, Scene 1
Sounds of battle.
Enter KING HENRY, EXETER, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, and soldiers, with scaling ladders
KING HENRY enters, with EXETER, BEDFORD, GLOUCESTER, and soldiers carrying ladders for scaling the walls that surround Harfleur.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility,
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage,
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect,
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon, let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a gallèd rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English,
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof,
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument.
Dishonor not your mothers. Now attest
That those whom you called fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture. Let us swear
That you are worth your breeding, which I doubt not,
Attack the breach in the city wall once more, dear friends, attack it once more—or else let’s close it up with English corpses. In peacetime, nothing looks better in a man than restraint and humility. But when the battle trumpet blows in our ears, then it’s time to act like the tiger. With muscles taut and blood stirred up, hide your civilized nature under the guise of ugly rage. Lend your eyes a terrifying gleam and let them jut out from the portholes of the head like brass cannon. Make your brow jut out over your eyes like a frightening cliff over the wild and desolate ocean. Now grit your teeth and let your nostrils flare. Take a deep breath and draw on every impulse to its fullest strength. On, on, you noblest Englishmen, descended as you are from battle-tested fathers, fathers who, like so many Alexander the Greats, have fought in these regions from morning until night, sheathing their swords only when there was no one left to fight. Don’t dishonor your mothers! Prove that the men you call your fathers did truly conceive you. Serve as an example to men of common birth and teach them how to fight. And you, good farmers, whose limbs were made in England, show us here the vigor of your upbringing. Prove you are worthy of your birth, which I do not doubt for a moment. For there isn’t one of you so low-born that your eyes don’t shine with noble luster. I see you’re standing like greyhounds