Henry VI, Part 3 Act II
by William Shakespeare

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Act II, Scene 1

ACT II.

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SCENE I. A plain near Mortimer's Cross in Herefordshire.

[A march. Enter EDWARD and RICHARD, with their Power.]

EDWARD.
I wonder how our princely father scap'd,
Or whether he be scap'd away or no
From Clifford's and Northumberland's pursuit.
Had he been ta'en, we should have heard the news;
Had he been slain, we should have heard the news;
Or had he scap'd, methinks we should have heard
The happy tidings of his good escape.--
How fares my brother? why is he so sad?

RICHARD.
I cannot joy until I be resolv'd
Where our right valiant father is become.
I saw him in the battle range about,
And watch'd him how he singled Clifford forth.
Methought he bore him in the thickest troop
As doth a lion in a herd of neat;
Or as a bear, encompass'd round with dogs,
Who having pinch'd a few and made them cry,
The rest stand all aloof and bark at him.
So far'd our father with his enemies;
So fled his enemies my warlike father.
Methinks 'tis pride enough to be his son.--
See how the morning opes her golden gates
And takes her farewell of the glorious sun.
How well resembles it the prime of youth,
Trimm'd like a younker prancing to his love!

EDWARD.
Dazzle mine eyes, or do I see three suns?

RICHARD.
Three glorious suns, each one a perfect sun;
Not separated with the racking clouds,
But sever'd in a pale clear-shining sky.
See, see! they join, embrace, and seem to kiss,
As if they vow'd some league inviolable;
Now are they but one lamp, one light, one sun.
In this the heaven figures some event.

EDWARD.
'T is wondrous strange, the like yet never heard of.
I think it cites us, brother, to the field,
That we, the sons of brave Plantagenet,
Each one already blazing by our meeds,
Should, notwithstanding, join our lights together,
And overshine the earth, as this the world.
Whate'er it bodes, henceforward will I bear
Upon my target three fair shining suns.

RICHARD.
Nay, bear three daughters; by your leave I speak it,
You love the breeder better than the male.--

[Enter a Messenger.]

But what art thou, whose heavy looks foretell
Some dreadful story hanging on thy tongue?

MESSENGER.
Ah, one that was a woeful looker-on
When as the noble Duke of York was slain,
Your princely father and my loving lord.

EDWARD.
O, speak no more, for I have heard too much!

RICHARD.
Say how he died, for I will hear it all.

MESSENGER.
Environed he was with many foes,
And stood against them as the hope of Troy
Against the Greeks that would have ent'red Troy.
But Hercules himself must yield to odds;
And many strokes, though with a little axe,
Hew down and fell the hardest-timber'd oak.
By many hands your father was subdu'd,
But only slaught'red by the ireful arm
Of unrelenting Clifford and the queen,
Who crown'd the gracious duke in high despite,
Laugh'd in his face, and when with grief he wept
The ruthless queen gave him, to dry his cheeks,
A napkin steeped in the harmless blood
Of sweet young Rutland, by rough Clifford slain.
And, after many scorns, many foul taunts,
They took his head, and on the gates of York
They set the same; and there it doth remain,
The saddest spectacle that e'er I view'd.

EDWARD.
Sweet Duke of York! our prop to lean upon,
Now thou art gone, we have no staff, no stay.
O Clifford! boisterous Clifford! thou hast slain
The flower of Europe for his chivalry;
And treacherously hast thou vanquish'd him,
For hand to hand he would have vanquish'd thee.
Now my soul's palace is become a prison.
Ah, would she break from hence, that this my body
Might in the ground be closed up in rest!
For never henceforth shall I joy again,
Never, O, never, shall I see more joy!

RICHARD.
I cannot weep, for all my body's moisture
Scarce serves to quench my furnace-burning heart;
Nor can my tongue unload my heart's great burthen,
For selfsame wind that I should speak withal
Is kindling coals that fires all my breast
And burns me up with flames that tears would quench.
To weep is to make less the depth of grief;
Tears, then, for babes, blows and revenge for me!--
Richard, I bear thy name; I'll venge thy death,
Or die renowned by attempting it.

EDWARD.
His name that valiant duke...

(The entire section is 6,055 words.)