Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > 1 King Henry VI.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The First Part of King Henry the Sixth
 
Act IV. Scene VI.
 
A Field of Battle.
 
Alarum: Excursions, wherein TALBOT’S Son is hemmed about, and TALBOT rescues him.
  Tal.  Saint George and victory! fight, soldiers, fight!
The regent hath with Talbot broke his word,
And left us to the rage of France his sword.        5
Where is John Talbot? Pause, and take thy breath:
I gave thee life and rescu’d thee from death.
  John.  O! twice my father, twice am I thy son:
The life thou gav’st me first was lost and done,
Till with thy war-like sword, despite of fate,        10
To my determin’d time thou gav’st new date.
  Tal.  When from the Dauphin’s crest thy sword struck fire,
It warm’d thy father’s heart with proud desire
Of bold-fac’d victory. Then leaden age,
Quicken’d with youthful spleen and war-like rage,        15
Beat down Alençon, Orleans, Burgundy,
And from the pride of Gallia rescu’d thee.
The ireful bastard Orleans,—that drew blood
From thee, my boy, and had the maidenhood
Of thy first fight,—I soon encountered        20
And, interchanging blows, I quickly shed
Some of his bastard blood; and, in disgrace,
Bespoke him thus, ‘Contaminated, base,
And misbegotten blood I spill of thine,
Mean and right poor, for that pure blood of mine        25
Which thou didst force from Talbot, my brave boy:’
Here, purposing the Bastard to destroy,
Came in strong rescue. Speak, thy father’s care,
Art thou not weary, John? How dost thou fare?
Wilt thou yet leave the battle, boy, and fly,        30
Now thou art seal’d the son of chivalry?
Fly, to revenge my death when I am dead;
The help of one stands me in little stead.
O! too much folly is it, well I wot,
To hazard all our lives in one small boat.        35
If I to-day die not with Frenchmen’s rage,
To-morrow I shall die with micke age:
By me they nothing gain an if I stay;
’Tis but the short’ning of my life one day.
In thee thy mother dies, our household’s name,        40
My death’s revenge, thy youth, and England’s fame.
All these and more we hazard by thy stay;
All these are sav’d if thou wilt fly away.
  John.  The sword of Orleans hath not made me smart;
These words of yours draw life-blood from my heart.        45
On that advantage, bought with such a shame,
To save a paltry life and slay bright fame,
Before young Talbot from old Talbot fly,
The coward horse that bears me fall and die!
And like me to the peasant boys of France,        50
To be shame’s scorn and subject of mischance!
Surely, by all the glory you have won,
An if I fly, I am not Talbot’s son:
Then talk no more of flight, it is no boot;
If son to Talbot, die at Talbot’s foot.        55
  Tal.  Then follow thou thy desperate sire of Crete,
Thou Icarus. Thy life to me is sweet:
If thou wilt fight, fight by thy father’s side,
And, commendable prov’d, let’s die in pride.  [Exeunt.
 
 
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