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Henry IV, Part 1

William Shakespeare

  Act 1 Scene 2

page Act 1 Scene 2 Page 9

Original Text

Modern Text

If all the year were playing holidays,
175To sport would be as tedious as to work,
But when they seldom come, they wished for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promisèd,
180By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men’s hopes;
And, like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glitt'ring o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
185Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I’ll so offend to make offense a skill,
Redeeming time when men think least I will.
And because people have missed him so much, they are that much more impressed when he finally appears. If every day were a vacation, playing would grow as tedious as working. But when it’s rare, it’s looked forward to. Nothing is as precious as the unexpected occurrence. So when I throw off this wild behavior and accept the responsibilities of being king—a destiny I didn’t choose but was born into—I’ll suddenly seem like a far better man. In this way, I’ll give everyone the wrong expectation of me. Like a bright metal on a dark background, my reformation will shine even more brilliantly when it’s set against my wicked past. I’ll be so wild, I’ll make wildness an art form, then redeem myself when the world least expects me to.
He exits.