Humanities › Literature Best Speeches from Shakespeare's Henry V Share Flipboard Email Print VisitBritain/Britain on View/Getty Images Literature Plays & Drama Monologues Basics & Advice Playwrights Play & Drama Reviews Improvisation Games and Activities Best Sellers Classic Literature Poetry Quotations Shakespeare Short Stories Children's Books By Wade Bradford Theater Expert M.A., Literature, California State University - Northridge B.A., Creative Writing, California State University - Northridge Wade Bradford, M.A., is an award-winning playwright and theater director. He wrote and directed seven productions for Yorba Linda Civic Light Opera's youth theater. our editorial process Wade Bradford Updated August 07, 2019 As it has been argued that, among the best Shakespeare plays, the Henriad (a four-play cycle containing Richard II, Henry IV Parts One and Two, and Henry V) is the crowning achievement of the Immortal Bard's incredible career. There are many reasons why fans laud the Henry plays above the others, including the remarkable character arc; the astute blend of humor, history, and family drama; and the awesome array of battle scenes. For fans of Henry V, another reason to admire this work is that it contains some of the most powerful monologues in the English language. Listed below are three of the best speeches delivered by King Henry: Once More Unto the Breach In this scene, Henry V and his small band of English soldiers have been battling the French. They've gotten roughed up pretty good, and some of them are ready to give up, but when Henry delivers this motivational speech, they take charge once more and win the day. Note that, contrary to a common misconception, the first line of this speech is not "Once more into the breach." Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;Or close the wall up with our English dead.In peace there's nothing so becomes a manAs modest stillness and humility:But when the blast of war blows in our ears,Then imitate the action of the tiger;Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage;Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;Let pry through the portage of the headLike the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm itAs fearfully as doth a galled rockO'erhang and jutty his confounded base,Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean.Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,Hold hard the breath and bend up every spiritTo his full height. On, on, you noblest English.Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,Have in these parts from morn till even foughtAnd sheathed their swords for lack of argument:Dishonour not your mothers; now attestThat those whom you call'd fathers did beget you.Be copy now to men of grosser blood,And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,Whose limbs were made in England, show us hereThe mettle of your pasture; let us swearThat you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;For there is none of you so mean and base,That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,Straining upon the start. The game's afoot:Follow your spirit, and upon this chargeCry 'God for Harry, England, and Saint George!' Upon the King The night before the most monumental battle in the play, Henry looks upon his sleeping soldiers and contrasts a king's life of pomp and ceremony with the emotional life of a commoner. Upon the king! let us our lives, our souls,Our debts, our careful wives,Our children and our sins lay on the king!We must bear all. O hard condition,Twin-born with greatness, subject to the breathOf every fool, whose sense no more can feelBut his own wringing! What infinite heart's-easeMust kings neglect, that private men enjoy!And what have kings, that privates have not too,Save ceremony, save general ceremony?And what art thou, thou idle ceremony?What kind of god art thou, that suffer'st moreOf mortal griefs than do thy worshippers?What are thy rents? what are thy comings in?O ceremony, show me but thy worth!What is thy soul of adoration?Art thou aught else but place, degree and form,Creating awe and fear in other men?Wherein thou art less happy being fear'dThan they in fearing.What drink'st thou oft, instead of homage sweet,But poison'd flattery? O, be sick, great greatness,And bid thy ceremony give thee cure!Think'st thou the fiery fever will go outWith titles blown from adulation?Will it give place to flexure and low bending?Canst thou, when thou command'st the beggar's knee,Command the health of it? No, thou proud dream,That play'st so subtly with a king's repose;I am a king that find thee, and I know'Tis not the balm, the sceptre and the ball,The sword, the mace, the crown imperial,The intertissued robe of gold and pearl,The farced title running 'fore the king,The throne he sits on, nor the tide of pompThat beats upon the high shore of this world,No, not all these, thrice-gorgeous ceremony,Not all these, laid in bed majestical,Can sleep so soundly as the wretched slave,Who with a body fill'd and vacant mindGets him to rest, cramm'd with distressful bread;Never sees horrid night, the child of hell,But, like a lackey, from the rise to setSweats in the eye of Phoebus and all nightSleeps in Elysium; next day after dawn,Doth rise and help Hyperion to his horse,And follows so the ever-running year,With profitable labour, to his grave:And, but for ceremony, such a wretch,Winding up days with toil and nights with sleep,Had the fore-hand and vantage of a king.The slave, a member of the country's peace,Enjoys it; but in gross brain little wotsWhat watch the king keeps to maintain the peace,Whose hours the peasant best advantages. St. Crispin's Day Speech This is the most famous monologue from Henry V, and with good reason. These inspiring lines are delivered to the rabble of brave English soldiers who are about to go into battle (the famous Battle of Agincourt) against thousands of French knights. Outnumbered, the soldiers wish they had more men to fight, but Henry V interrupts them, declaring that they have just enough men to make history. What's he that wishes so?My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin;If we are mark'd to die, we are enowTo do our country loss; and if to live,The fewer men, the greater share of honor.God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;It yearns me not if men my garments wear;Such outward things dwell not in my desires.But if it be a sin to covet honor,I am the most offending soul alive.No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England.God's peace! I would not lose so great an honorAs one man more methinks would share from meFor the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,That he which hath no stomach to this fight,Let him depart; his passport shall be made,And crowns for convoy put into his purse;We would not die in that man's companyThat fears his fellowship to die with us.This day is call'd the feast of Crispian.He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,Will stand a tip-toe when this day is nam'd,And rouse him at the name of Crispian.He that shall live this day, and see old age,Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors,And say "To-morrow is Saint Crispian."Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,And say "These wounds I had on Crispian's day."Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,But he'll remember, with advantages,What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,Familiar in his mouth as household words-Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter,Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester-Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb'red.This story shall the good man teach his son;And Crispin Crispian shall ne'er go by,From this day to the ending of the world,But we in it shall be remembered-We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;For he to-day that sheds his blood with meShall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,This day shall gentle his condition;And gentlemen in England now-a-bedShall think themselves accurs'd they were not here,And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaksThat fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.