English 105A: Handout (John of Gaunt's speech)
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TA: Geoff McNeil
English 105A: Early Shakespeare
Methinks I am a prophet new inspired,
And thus expiring do foretell of him:
His rash fierce blaze of riot cannot last,
For violent fires soon burn out themselves.
Small showers last long, but sudden storms are short;
He tires betimes that spurs too fast betimes;
With eager feeding, food doth choke the feeder.
Light vanity, insatiate cormorant,
Consuming means, soon preys upon itself.
This royal throne of kings, this scept’red isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection  and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea
[Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,]
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb  of royal kings,
[Feared by their breed, and famous by their birth,
Renownèd for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulcher in stubborn Jewry
Of the world’s ransom, blessed Mary’s son,]
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land–
Dear for her reputation through the world –
Is now leased out – I die pronouncing it –
Like a tenement or pelting farm.
England, bound in with the triumphant sea,
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of wat’ry Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots, and rotten parchment bonds .
That England that was wont to conquer others
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.
Ah! Would the scandal vanish with my life,
How happy then were my ensuing death!
Be he the fire, I’ll be the yielding water (Bolingbroke 3.3: 57)
The rage be his, whilst on the earth I rain (3.3: 58)
And therein fasting hast thou made me gaunt (2.1: 81)
royal throne of kings
earth of majesty
seat of Mars
other Eden, demi-paradise
happy breed of men
land of such dear souls
dear dear land
tenement or pelting farm
Live in thy shame, but die not shame with thee (Gaunt 2.1: 136)
 p.30: thou liest in reputation sick
 p.30: whose hollow womb inherits naught but bones
 p.25 our substitutes at home shall have blank charters