Henry V

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

CONSTABLE

Indeed, my lord, it is a most absolute and excellent horse.

CONSTABLE

Indeed, my lord, he is a perfectly wonderful horse.

DAUPHIN

It is the prince of palfreys. His neigh is like the bidding of a monarch, and his countenance enforces homage.

DAUPHIN

He is the prince of horses. His neigh is like a monarch’s command. His face demands respect.

ORLÉANS

No more, cousin.

ORLÉANS

Enough, cousin.

DAUPHIN

25Nay, the man hath no wit that cannot, from the rising of the lark to the lodging of the lamb, vary deserved praise on my palfrey. It is a theme as fluent as the sea. Turn the sands into eloquent tongues, and my horse is argument for them all. 'Tis a subject for a sovereign to reason on, and for a sovereign’s sovereign to ride on, and for the world, familiar to us and unknown, to lay apart their particular functions and wonder at him. I once writ a sonnet in his praise and began thus: “Wonder of nature—”

DAUPHIN

No, the man who cannot extol the virtues of my horse from dawn to dusk is not particularly clever. It’s a subject as worthy of endless discussion as the changing sea. If each grain of sand had a tongue to eulogize, my horse would be a topic for them all. He is a subject for a king to contemplate, and for a king’s king to ride on, and for the world at large—both friend and stranger—to stop whatever they are doing and marvel at. I once wrote a sonnet in his praise which began, “Wonder of nature—”

ORLÉANS

I have heard a sonnet begin so to one’s mistress.

ORLÉANS

I have heard a sonnet to one’s mistress that began like that.

DAUPHIN

35Then did they imitate that which I composed to my courser, for my horse is my mistress.

DAUPHIN

Then the writer imitated the one I composed to my steed, for my horse is my mistress.

ORLÉANS

Your mistress bears well.

ORLÉANS

Your mistress is a good mount.

DAUPHIN

Me well—which is the prescript praise and perfection of a good and particular mistress.

DAUPHIN

A good mount for me—and that’s the highest praise and very definition of a good mistress, that she belong to one alone.

CONSTABLE

40Nay, for methought yesterday your mistress shrewdly shook your back.

CONSTABLE

Yes, but yesterday I could have sworn your mistress gave you a bumpy ride.

DAUPHIN

So perhaps did yours.

DAUPHIN

So, perhaps, did yours.