Richard II "Talk Of Graves, Of Worms, And Epitaphs"

William Shakespeare

"Talk Of Graves, Of Worms, And Epitaphs"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: King Richard, who has been engaged in the Irish wars, returns to England to find that his Welsh army has been dispersed on a rumor of his death, that his exiled cousin Bolingbroke has returned to claim his inheritance seized by Richard upon the death of John of Gaunt, uncle of the king and father of Bolingbroke, and that the companions of Richard, Bushy, Green, and the Earl of Wiltshire, in whose charge he left the Castle of Bristol, have been executed. Aumerle, cousin of Richard and his companion on the Irish mission, asks the messenger about the forces led by the Duke of York (father of Aumerle and uncle of the king), who has been left in charge of the affairs of state in Richard's absence, but the downcast monarch asserts:

No matter where, of comfort no man speak.
Let's talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs,
Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes,
Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.
Let's choose executors and talk of wills.
And yet not so, for what can we bequeath,
Save our deposed bodies to the ground?
Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke's,
And nothing can we call our own, but death;
And that small model of the barren earth,
Which serves as paste, and cover to our bones.
. . .