From Richard II

From Richard II

One trusted source — thanks Chop Bard — suggested that this was one of the best of Shakespeare’s monologues, and should be ranked alongside other greats, like Brutus or Hamlet’s soliloquy. Sure.

I gave it a spin, in preparation for the season. As always, the actors do a much better job than I ever hope to, I just try stretching myself a little.

3.2.144 and on…

    No matter where—of comfort no man speak:
    Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs,
    Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes
    Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
    Let’s choose executors and talk of wills;
    And yet not so, for what can we bequeath
    Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
    Our lands, our lives, and all are Bullingbrook’s,
    And nothing can we call our own but death,
    And that small model of the barren earth
    Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.
    For God’s sake let us sit upon the ground
    And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
    How some have been depos’d, some slain in war,
    Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed,
    Some poisoned by their wives, some sleeping kill’d,
    All murdered—for within the hollow crown
    That rounds the mortal temples of a king
    Keeps Death his court, and there the antic sits,
    Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp,
    Allowing him a breath, a little scene,
    To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks,
    Infusing him with self and vain conceit,
    As if this flesh which walls about our life
    Were brass impregnable; and humor’d thus,
    Comes at the last and with a little pin
    Bores thorough his castle wall, and farewell king!
    Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood
    With solemn reverence, throw away respect,
    Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty,
    For you have but mistook me all this while.
    I live with bread like you, feel want,
    Taste grief, need friends: subjected thus,
    How can you say to me I am a king?

Read loud. First run, here.

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