Think what you will, we seize into our hands
His plate, his goods, his money, and his lands. 
(Act 2, scene 1, lines 218–19)

King Richard speaks these lines to the Duke of York immediately following the death of John of Gaunt. With these words, Richard announces his decision to seize Gaunt’s estate to help pay for his self-indulgent war in Ireland. York warns Richard against this action, which effectively defrauds Bolingbroke of his inheritance—both the material wealth of his father’s estate and Gaunt’s former title as the Duke of Lancaster. Richard dismisses York’s concerns with this response, the brevity and brutality of which stands in stark contrast to the lengthy poetic speeches he will make later in the play, as his political power diminishes.

Down, down I come, like glist’ring Phaëton,
Wanting the manage of unruly jades.
In the base court—base court, where kings grow base,
To come at traitors’ calls and do them grace.
In the base court come down—down court, down king,
For nightowls shriek where mounting larks should sing.
(Act 3, scene 3, lines 183–90)

Already by act 3, scene 3, Richard understands that Bolingbroke has succeeded in removing him from power. Though not yet officially dethroned, Richard sees that he’s destined for a fall. He intimates as much in this brief speech, where he compares himself to “glist’ring Phaëton.” In Greek myth, Phaëton was the son of the sun god Apollo. One day he took the chariot of the sun and attempted to drive it through the skies, but he couldn’t control the horses and so crashed to the earth and died. Here, Richard emphasizes the downward trajectory of the crashing chariot, which he sees as being parallel to his own inevitable descent to “the base court.” This language echoes many other references to downward movement in the play. It also marks the mid-play transition in Richard’s speech—from the brutal cruelty and cynical deception of the first two acts to the increasingly metaphysical poetry of the final three.

Bolingbroke: Are you contented to resign the crown?
Richard: Ay, no; no, ay; for I must nothing be.
Therefore no “no,” for I resign to thee.
Now, mark me how I will undo myself.
I give this heavy weight from off my head
And this unwieldy scepter from my hand,
The pride of kingly sway from out my heart.
With mine own tears I wash away my balm,
With mine own hands I give away my crown,
With mine own tongue deny my sacred state,
With mine own breath release all duteous oaths.
(Act 4, scene 1, lines 209–219)

These lines come from the play’s climactic scene, where Richard effectively deposes himself. Note how in these lines Richard’s challenger, Bolingbroke, does nothing more than ask the king if he’s prepared to relinquish his crown. Richard takes care of the rest, first telling the crowd to “mark me how I will undo myself,” then proceeding with the ceremonial reversal of his own anointing. Richard’s poetic capacity has reached a new peak in these lines, made evident in his initial, punning response to Bolingbroke’s question. When asked if he’s “contented to resign the crown,” Richard first responds by questioning whether he constitutes enough of an “I” to make such a resignation: “Ay, no; no, ay; for I must nothing be.” The critic Marjorie Garber has pointed out that the first half of this line, which seems to imply internal conflict (“Yes, no; no, yes”) may also be read as a homonymic pun: “I know no I.” In other words, Richard is saying that, with the loss of his crown, he has also lost himself—his sense of “I.”