And never live to show th' incredulous world
The noble change that I have purposèd.
285Coming to look on you, thinking you dead,
And dead almost, my liege, to think you were,
I spake unto this crown as having sense,
And thus upbraided it: “The care on thee depending
Hath fed upon the body of my father;
290Therefore thou best of gold art worst of gold.
Other, less fine in carat, is more precious,
Preserving life in med'cine potable;
But thou, most fine, most honored, most renowned,
Hast eat thy bearer up.” Thus, my most royal liege,
295Accusing it, I put it on my head
To try with it, as with an enemy
That had before my face murdered my father,
The quarrel of a true inheritor.
But if it did infect my blood with joy
300Or swell my thoughts to any strain of pride,
If any rebel or vain spirit of mine
Did with the least affection of a welcome
Give entertainment to the might of it,
Let God forever keep it from my head
305And make me as the poorest vassal is
That doth with awe and terror kneel to it.
may I die as the wild youth I was before, and never live to show the dubious world the transformation I have been planning.
Coming to see you, thinking you were dead—and being nearly dead myself, just thinking that you were—I spoke to this crown as though it were alive. I scolded it like this: “The worry you’ve caused has eaten my father alive. So you, the best piece of gold, are actually the worst piece of gold. Other gold, perhaps worth less, is more precious, since it at least brings us health when mixed in our drinks. But you—the best, the most honored, the most famous—have consumed the person wearing you.” And as I accused it, I put it on my head, to fight against it as an enemy who’d killed my father before my very eyes. It was the fight of a loyal child.
But may God keep it from me forever—making me like the poorest servant bowing down before it in awe and terror—if it in any way made me happy or arrogant, or if any part of me was the least bit pleased to welcome it and the power it brings.
O my son,
God put it in thy mind to take it hence
That thou mightst win the more thy father’s love,
310Pleading so wisely in excuse of it.
Come hither, Harry, sit thou by my bed
And hear, I think, the very latest counsel
That ever I shall breathe. God knows, my son,
By what bypaths and indirect crook’d ways
315I met this crown, and I myself know well
How troublesome it sat upon my head.
To thee it shall descend with better quiet,
Oh my son, God made you take it from me so that, in pleading your case so beautifully, you would make me love you more! Come here, Harry. Sit by my bed and listen to what I think will be the last advice I ever give. God knows the unusual paths and indirect, crooked ways that led me to this crown.
And I know very well how much anxiety it has caused as I’ve worn it. It will fall to you in bitter peace, with