Original Text

Modern Text

Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth, on a bier, with halberds to guard it, Lady ANNE being the mourner, accompanied by gentlemen
The corpse of KING HENRY VI is carried in on a


A “bier” is a framework for carrying or displaying a corpse or coffin.

, followed by Lady ANNE, dressed in mourning clothes, and armed guards.


Set down, set down your honorable load,
If honor may be shrouded in a hearse,
Whilst I awhile obsequiously lament
Th' untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.


Set down your honorable load, men, if there is ever any honor in being dead. I want to mourn the cruel death of this good man. Look at the noble king’s poor cold body—the measly remains of the Lancaster family.
They set down the bier
They put down the bier.
5Poor key-cold figure of a holy king,
Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster,
Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood,
Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost
To hear the lamentations of poor Anne,
10Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son,
Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these wounds.
Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life
I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes.
O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes;
15Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it;
Cursèd the blood that let this blood from hence.
More direful hap betide that hated wretch
That makes us wretched by the death of thee
Than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads,
20Or any creeping venomed thing that lives.
If ever he have child, abortive be it,
Prodigious, and untimely brought to light,
Whose ugly and unnatural aspect
May fright the hopeful mother at the view,
25And that be heir to his unhappiness.
His royal blood has drained right out of him. I hope I can talk to your ghost, Henry, without breaking church laws. I want you to hear my sorrow. My


Anne’s husband was Prince Edward, King Henry’s son and a Lancaster.

was murdered by the same man who stabbed you. My tears now fall into the holes where your life leaked out. I curse the man who made these holes. I curse the man’s heart who had the heart to stab you. And I curse the man’s blood who shed your blood. I want the man who made me suffer by killing you to face a more terrible end than I could wish on spiders, toads, and all the poisonous, venomous things things alive. If he ever has a child, let it be born prematurely, and let it look like a monster—so ugly and unnatural that the sight of it frightens its own mother.