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12 March 2013

Somebody else thought of that - I know you all

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
the unyoked humor of your idleness . . .
                   Henry the IV part 1, act 1, scene 2

So what is that? The start of a soliloquy or a monologue?

I was in my boss's office the other day and the conversation turned to things we were reading. I was at that time almost through reading Romeo and Juliet, so of course, I totally played that card. I mean, how often when someone asks you what you are reading can you say - "something something by Shakespeare," and not be lying?

That led to a bit of a Shakespeare discussion. Which for me boiled down to - keep it short before you say something stupid!

As I write this, I  wonder if I cut it short enough.

We got on the subject of Henry the IV, my favorite Shakespeare play, and I mentioned the quote above as being my favorite Shakespeare soliloquy.

Tonight, when I was looking to find the exact wording to include, every hit referred to this as a monologue.


I mean, soliloquy fits, right? I looked up the definition to be sure. I didn't sling the wrong Shakespeare slang in my boss's office, did I? That stupid Shakespeare conversation lasted 30 maybe 40 seconds and I still might have come off sounding like a jackass.

Well, que seramen noodles, right?

Can't you just hear Homer?
Mmmm, dogs.
I really do love Hal's soliloquy though. It is so melancholy and calculating and cruel. The prince has been a partier all his life and has his stable of friends that he will soon cast off to the dogs. He is admitting as much. To himself and to the audience. The merriment he presided over will soon spiral down to an equal portion of misery.

The beauty of the language and the imagery almost obscures the ruthless nature of what Hal says. You should hate him for what he is admitting to, but you can't help but be seduced by his coming majesty (pun intended).

I'm no Shakespeare expert, but the Bard's best stuff has never been equaled. Here's the full text.

I know you all, and will awhile uphold
The unyoked humour of your idleness:
Yet herein will I imitate the sun,
Who doth permit the base contagious clouds
To smother up his beauty from the world,
That, when he please again to be himself,
Being wanted, he may be more wonder'd at,
By breaking through the foul and ugly mists
Of vapours that did seem to strangle him.
If all the year were playing holidays,
To sport would be as tedious as to work;
But when they seldom come, they wish'd for come,
And nothing pleaseth but rare accidents.
So, when this loose behavior I throw off
And pay the debt I never promised,
By how much better than my word I am,
By so much shall I falsify men's hopes;
And like bright metal on a sullen ground,
My reformation, glittering o'er my fault,
Shall show more goodly and attract more eyes
Than that which hath no foil to set it off.
I'll so offend, to make offence a skill;
Redeeming time when men think least I will.