Poetry Breakfast – St. Crispin’s Day Speech (Henry V)

One last Poetry Breakfast entry. I wrote this about midway through the month of doing these, and knew then that I would save this for the final entry. I had great fun writing these. When I started out, I was able to keep a few days ahead of my publishing schedule. Alas, a combination of work travel and a lack of source material (hey, my knowledge of poetry isn’t THAT deep) and the well ran dry on me. Maybe I’ll do another month of these next year, if I can line up some good poems between now and then.

This remains one of my favorite passages of all time. The speech is from Shakespeare, from Henry V – Act 4, Scene 3 – as King Henry is spurring on the troops, weary from slogging across France in horrible weather, for the Battle of Agincourt. The actual passage is a bit longer; this comes from Kenneth Branagh’s 1989 movie adaptation (). I remember clearly where I was when I heard this – junior year of high school, second semester, British Lit – and to this day the scene gives me chills.

Through the power of YouTube, you can see the scene below. It loses a bit of oomph without the context of the rest of the film – which I highly recommend watching – but it’s pretty awesome nonetheless.

(Note – St. Crispin’s Day is October 25th. After writing this, I urge anybody reading this to gather friends together on that day and share a meal. It might have helped if I published this two months ago, but hey.)

St. Crispin’s Brunch Speech
regrets to Shakespeare and Kenneth Branagh

What’s he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland?
No, my fair cousin. If we are fit to dine,
we are enough to do our hunger proud.
And if to eat, the fewer eggs, the greater share of bacon!
God’s will, I pray thee, wish not one diner more.
Rather, proclaim it, Westmoreland, to the table,
that he which has no stomach for this meal…
let him depart.
His tab shall be paid,
and cash for the valet put into his purse.
We would not dine in that man’s company
that fears his fellowship to dine with us.

This day is called the feast of Crispian.
He that partakes of this meal, and comes safe home,
will stand at tiptoe when this meal is named
and rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall eat this day and live old age
will yearly, on the vigil, feed his neighbors
and say, “tomorrow is Saint Crispin’s.”
Then will he lift his shirt and show his gut
and say, “this weight I gained on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget, yet all shall be forgot
but he’ll remember with advantages what foods he ate that day.
Then shall their names, familiar in their mouths as household words -
Pigs in a Blanket,
Bacon and Sausages,
Omelettes and French Toast,
Orange Juice and Coffee –
be in their flowing cups freshly remembered.
These dishes shall a good man teach his son.
Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
from this day to the ENDING OF THE WORLD,
but we diners shall be remembered.
We few,
we happy few,
we band of brothers.
For he today that eats his fill with me shall be my brother.
Be he ne’er so full, this day shall strengthen his appetite.
And gentlemen who stayed home still in bed
shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
and HOLD THEIR MANHOODS CHEAP
whilst any speaks that dined with us
upon Saint Crispin’s Day!

St. Crispin’s Day Speech
Shakespeare Henry V, from the Kenneth Branagh movie
Source: http://www.script-o-rama.com/movie_scripts/h/henry-v-script-transcript-branagh.html

What’s he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland?
No, my fair cousin.
If we are marked to die, we are
enough to do our country loss.
And if to live,
the fewer men,
The greater share of honor.
God’s will, I pray thee,
wish not one man 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 called
the feast of Crispian.
He that outlives this day
and comes safe home…
will stand at tiptoe
when this day is named…
and rouse him
at the name of Crispian.
He that shall see this day
and live old age…
will yearly, on the vigil,
feast his neighbors…
and say, “tomorrow
is Saint Crispin’s.”
Then will he strip his sleeve
and show his scars…
and say, “these wounds
I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget,
yet all shall be forgot but
he’ll remember with advantages…
what feats he did that day.
Then shall our names, familiar
in their mouths as household words…
Harry the king,
Bedford and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot,
Salisbury and Gloucester…
be in their flowing cups
freshly remembered.
This story shall
a good man teach his son.
Crispin Crispian
shall ne’er go by,
from this day to
the ending of the world,
but we in it
shall be remembered.
We few,
we happy few,
we band of brothers.
For he today that sheds his
blood with me shall be my brother.
Be he ne’er so vile,
this day shall gentle his condition.
And gentlemen in England
now abed…
shall think themselves accursed
they were not here…
and hold their manhoods cheap…
whilst any speaks
that fought with us…
upon Saint Crispin’s day!

Poetry Breakfast on hiatus

The Poetry Breakfast is on hiatus until the end of the month. Combination of coming down with a cold and family needs mean I’m “breaking the chain”, if you follow Jerry Seinfeld.

Normal butchery of literature will recommence at the start of October.

Poetry Breakfast #25 – The Pig

[Laid up with a cold at the moment, so forgive me for "phoning it in" a bit. Still, this one tickled me.]

The Pig
Roald Dahl doesn’t deserve this

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
So we ate it.

The Pig
Roald Dahl

In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read.
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found.
Till suddenly one wondrous night.
All in a flash he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butcher’s shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great piece of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor…
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-pig/

Poetry Breakfast #24 – The Swing

The Soufflé
(Never in his wildest horrors conceived of by Robert Louis Stevenson)

How do you like to rise up, my soufflé ,
Up in the air so tall?
Oh, I do think it the tastiest thing
Can be done with an egg, y’all!

Up in the air, rise along the side,
Till the cap forms, so golden,
Puffy and large and bubbly and wide,
Glorious thing to beholden –

Till you come out of the oven and rest,
Settling down after the show –
Just an excuse to go make one again,
Off to the kitchen I go!

The Swing
Robert Louis Stevenson

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside–

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown–
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/the-swing/

Poetry Breakfast #23 – Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep

Do Not Sit By My Plate And Weep
(that was deep, Mary Elizabeth Fryer)

Do not sit by my plate and weep
I am not there. I do not eat.
I am a thousand cows that moo.
I am the candle’s glint on stew.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the ripened bunch of plantain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of coffee ground, about to brew.
I am the table set, refreshed anew.
Do not sit by my plate and pine;
I am not there. I did not dine.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
Mary Elizabeth Frye

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Source: http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/do-not-stand-at-my-grave-and-weep/