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The Life of Henry the Fifth

 
 

Enter Prologue.

O! for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention;
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene. 4
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that hath dar'd 9
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram 12
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million; 16
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confin'd two mighty monarchies, 20
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts:
Into a thousand parts divide one man, 24
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses that you see them

6 port: bearing
9 unraised: unaspiring
10 scaffold: stage
11 cockpit; cf. n.
12 vasty: vast
13 the very casques: even the helmets
16 Attest: stand for; cf. n.
17 accompt: account
18 imaginary: imaginative
21 abutting: adjacent