Thursday, August 14, 2008

'Band of Bothers' Poem

A lot of people find my blog by googling 'Band of Brothers' poem. This makes me cringe. I've never seen Band of Brothers, but I know what they're looking for. They're looking for some of the best lines Shakespeare ever wrote: King Henry's speech to his troops before the battle of Agincourt in Henry V. I chose 'Band of Brothers' as the title of my blog because my family is a band of brothers, and to pay tribute to a play we absolutely adore. So, to throw a bone to all you google searchers, here is your 'poem'.

To set the scene, you see a small band of bedraggled English soldiers getting ready to fight the French in a battle where they are outnumbered many times over. The king hears a soldier wish that just a fraction of the men still abed in England could be with them to fight that day. Now, Shakespeare wasn't meant to be read, it was meant to be heard. So read it aloud. I italicized my favorite parts. Let the words and expressions roll off your tongue. Here's your daily dose of culture. Enjoy.

What's he that wishes so?
My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
If we are mark'd to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
God's will! I pray thee, wish not one man 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 company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
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 neighbours,
And say 'To-morrow is Saint Crispian:'
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
And say 'These wounds I had on Crispin'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 remember'd.
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 remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin's day.

I know, here, you can watch it!


Jana said...

You are brave to be searchable.

And I must say that you are pretty smart that you know what that poem is all about.

Thems smart words ... from Willy.

Home of the Muddy Kids said...

That is my favorite part of the movie--except for "Here comes your father"---

Very inspiring.

EarlGirl said...

I love that part too. Hey, did anyone catch a certain prepubescent Dark Knight in that video clip? Yep, Christian Bale himself.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth Branagh sounds better than if I read it, especially with my tiny Italian accented voice :)

It's a very boosting speech, it gave me the strength to tackle all the laundry I had to do, only it wasn't Saint Crispin and I wasn't left with scars on my arms :)

I just noticed your blogroll, you haven't looked at my blog since the 4th of July?? :)
Or maybe the blogroll is just stuck.

Jodi said...

Thanks for the culture today. I don't get enough of the real stuff. I have never read that poem before. Isn't there also a TV show called Band of Brothers too? I don't watch the tube much, but I thought I saw it advertised once.

Anonymous said...

You write very well.

Gnarmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EarlGirl said...

Richard X- I know you deleted it, but I'll answer your question. It makes me cringe because people think it's some poem written for a miniseries. However compelling the program was, and I'm a huge fan of WWII histories, Henry's speech is not a poem. Yes, it's written in iambic pentameter and it sounds like poetry, but it's a speech. From a play. Shakespeare. Not a poem from a miniseries.

Gnarmac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
EarlGirl said...

Pedantry? Wow, I must have stumbled into the miniseries' #1 fan! If you read Joseph B Wirthlin, surely you have better things to do with your time than leave insulting comments on almost year old blog posts.

Gnarmac said...

Sorry. What I said was mean. you have a right to say what you want about what you want, especially on your own corner of the internet.

EarlGirl said...

It's all good. You must have googled the 'offending phrase' :) I'm as fiercely loyal to the play as you are to the miniseries. I pulled the entire neighborhood together a few summers ago to film it. Picture a regal 9 year old saying those lines. Priceless!