"Once More Unto The Breach"

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Last Updated on May 19, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 113

Context: King Henry V and his soldiers have departed from England, leaving her "guarded with grandsires, babies, and old women," to conquer France. The English are laying siege to Harfleur. Henry, his noblemen, and soldiers, approach the walls of the city with scaling-ladders. Henry spurs them to battle with the following speech:

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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 man,
As 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-favoured rage.
. . .

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