Reference > William Shakespeare > The Oxford Shakespeare > Henry VIII.
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William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Oxford Shakespeare.  1914.
 
The Famous History of the Life of King Henry the Eighth
 
Prologue.
 
I come no more to make you laugh: things now,
That bear a weighty and a serious brow,
Sad, high, and working, full of state and woe,
Such noble scenes as draw the eye to flow,
We now present. Those that can pity, here        5
May, if they think it well, let fall a tear;
The subject will deserve it. Such as give
Their money out of hope they may believe,
May here find truth too. Those that come to see
Only a show or two, and so agree        10
The play may pass, if they be still and willing,
I’ll undertake may see away their shilling
Richly in two short hours. Only they
That come to hear a merry, bawdy play,
A noise of targets, or to see a fellow        15
In a long motley coat guarded with yellow,
Will be deceiv’d; for, gentle hearers, know,
To rank our chosen truth with such a show
As fool and fight is, besides forfeiting
Our own brains, and the opinion that we bring,        20
To make that only true we now intend,
Will leave us never an understanding friend.
Therefore, for goodness’ sake, and as you are known
The first and happiest hearers of the town,
Be sad, as we would make ye: think ye see        25
The very persons of our noble story
As they were living; think you see them great,
And follow’d with the general throng and sweat
Of thousand friends; then, in a moment see
How soon this mightiness meets misery:        30
And if you can be merry then, I’ll say
A man may weep upon his wedding day.
 
 
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