Henry IV, Part 1

by: William Shakespeare

Act 1 Scene 1

page Act 1 Scene 1 Page 1

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Enter the KING, Lord John of LANCASTER, Earl of WESTMORELAND, with others
The KING, Lord John of LANCASTER, the Earl of WESTMORELAND, and others enter.


So shaken as we are, so wan with care,
Find we a time for frighted peace to pant
And breathe short-winded accents of new broils
To be commenced in strands afar remote.
5No more the thirsty entrance of this soil
Shall daub her lips with her own children’s blood.
Nor more shall trenching war channel her fields,
Nor bruise her flow’rets with the armed hoofs
Of hostile paces. Those opposèd eyes,
10Which, like the meteors of a troubled heaven,
All of one nature, of one substance bred,
Did lately meet in the intestine shock
And furious close of civil butchery
Shall now, in mutual well-beseeming ranks,
15March all one way and be no more opposed
Against acquaintance, kindred, and allies.
The edge of war, like an ill-sheathèd knife,
No more shall cut his master. Therefore, friends,
As far as to the sepulcher of Christ—
20Whose soldier now, under whose blessed cross
We are impressèd and engaged to fight—
Forthwith a power of English shall we levy,
Whose arms were molded in their mothers' womb
To chase these pagans in those holy fields
25Over whose acres walked those blessèd feet
Which fourteen hundred years ago were nailed
For our advantage on the bitter cross.


Despite how shaken and pale with worry we are, let’s take advantage of this moment of peace to catch our breath, and as we pant we’ll speak about the battles we’ll soon fight in foreign lands. England will no longer be wet with her own people’s blood. War will no longer damage her fields, and warhorses will no longer trample her flowers. The soldiers on either side of this vicious civil war were countrymen and brothers, as similar to one another as shooting stars. They may have clashed recently, but now they will march together in beautiful formation, no longer struggling against family and friend. War is like a mishandled knife: it can cut its owner, but it will no longer cut us. My friends, we are now soldiers for Christ, and we take his blessed cross as our battle flag. We’ll raise a new army of Englishmen and march all the way to the Holy Land. Our soldiers were born to chase non-believers from that holy ground touched by Jesus' feet—feet which, fourteen hundred years ago, were nailed to the cross for our sins.