Richard II: Act V, Scene v


Richard II   Act 5, Scene 5  Richard II

(This text is featured in our interview with Curt L. Tofteland)

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1. I have been studying how I may compare
2.  This prison where I live unto the world:
3.  And for because the world is populous
4. And here is not a creature but myself,
5. I cannot do it; yet I’ll hammer it out.
6. My brain I’ll prove the female to my soul,
7. My soul the father; and these two beget
8. A generation of still-breeding thoughts,
9.  And these same thoughts people this little world,
10.  In humours like the people of this world,
11.  For no thought is contented. The better sort,
12.  As thoughts of things divine, are intermix’d
13.  With scruples and do set the word itself
14.  Against the word:
15.  As thus, ‘Come, little ones,’ and then again,
16.  ‘It is as hard to come as for a camel
17.  To thread the postern of a small needle’s eye.’
18.  Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot
19.  Unlikely wonders; how these vain weak nails
20.  May tear a passage through the flinty ribs
21.  Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls,
22.  And, for they cannot, die in their own pride.
23.  Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves
24.  That they are not the first of fortune’s slaves,
25.  Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars
26.  Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame,
27.  That many have and others must sit there;
28.  And in this thought they find a kind of ease,
29.  Bearing their own misfortunes on the back
30.  Of such as have before endured the like.
31.  Thus play I in one person many people,
32.  And none contented: sometimes am I king;
33.  Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar,
34.  And so I am: then crushing penury
35.  Persuades me I was better when a king;
36.  Then am I king’d again: and by and by
37.  Think that I am unking’d by Bolingbroke,
38.  And straight am nothing: but whate’er I be,
39.  Nor I nor any man that but man is
40.  With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased
41.  With being nothing. Music do I hear?


42.  Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
43.  When time is broke and no proportion kept!
44.  So is it in the music of men’s lives.
45.  And here have I the daintiness of ear
46.  To cheque time broke in a disorder’d string;
47.  But for the concord of my state and time
48.  Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
49.  I wasted time, and now doth time waste me;
50.  For now hath time made me his numbering clock:
51.  My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar
52.  Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch,
53.  Whereto my finger, like a dial’s point,
54.  Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears.
55.  Now sir, the sound that tells what hour it is
56.  Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart,
57.  Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans
58.  Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time
59.  Runs posting on in Bolingbroke’s proud joy,
60.  While I stand fooling here, his Jack o’ the clock.
61.  This music mads me; let it sound no more;
62.  For though it have holp madmen to their wits,
63.  In me it seems it will make wise men mad.
64.  Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me!
65.  For ’tis a sign of love; and love to Richard
66.  Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

  3 Responses to “Richard II: Act V, Scene v”

  1. […] Click here to follow along with the text. […]

  2. Has he done time? Maybe, other writers spent time in prison, it’s true. But if it’s being said that he needed to do time to give him the understanding to write this? No.

  3. Yes Peter. Curt says as much and the prisoners he works with recognize Shakespeare’s innate ability to capture the human experience. Thanks for the comment!

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