Monday, May 28, 2018

We Few. We Happy Few. We Band Of Brothers: Shakespeare's Lesson For Memorial Day

The New York Post Editorial Board offers a look back at Shakespeare’s St. Crispin’s Day speech on Memorial Day.

Memorial Day inspires mixed emotions: pride in the valor of those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom; sorrow that such self-sacrifice should have been necessary. Pride in past valor may be best expressed in the St. Crispin’s Day speech from “Henry V” (Act IV, Scene iii), delivered by the young king on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt.

St. Crispin’s Day

By William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
But if it be a sin to covet honour,
I am the most offending soul alive.
No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
As one man more, methinks, would share from me
For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart; his passport shall be made
And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is call’d the feast of Crispian:       

You can read the rest of the speech via the below link:

You can also watch Sir Laurence Olivier perform the speech via the below link:

Note: The above photo is of actor Sir Laurence Olivier in Henry V.   

1 comment:

  1. I think it strange that the NYP chooses an English poet’s ironic tribute to English-French conflict on an American holiday honoring Americans. So many American poets might have been more appropriate choices. But that’s just me being a curmudgeon.