King Henry VI, Part II – Monologue (York)

A monologue from the play by William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 1


Anjou and Maine are given to the French,
Paris is lost; the state of Normandy
Stands on a tickle point now they are gone.
Suffolk concluded on the articles,
The peers agreed, and Henry was well pleased
To change two dukedoms for a duke’s fair daughter.
I cannot blame them all. What is’t to them?
‘Tis thine they give away, and not their own.
Pirates may make cheap pennyworths of their pillage,
And purchase friends, and give to courtesans,
Still revelling like lords till all be gone,
While as the silly owner of the goods
Weeps over them and wrings his hapless hands
And shakes his head and trembling stands aloof
While all is shared and all is borne away,
Ready to starve and dare not touch his own.
So York must sit and fret and bite his tongue
While his own lands are bargained for and sold.
Methinks the realms of England, France, and Ireland
Bear that proportion to my flesh and blood
As did the fatal brand Althaea burnt
Unto the prince’s heart of Calydon.
Anjou and Maine both given unto the French?
Cold news for me! for I had hope of France,
Even as I have of fertile England’s soil.
A day will come when York shall claim his own;
And therefore I will take the Nevils’ parts,
And make a show of love to proud Duke Humphrey,
And when I spy advantage, claim the crown,
For that’s the golden mark I seek to hit.
Nor shall proud Lancaster usurp my right,
Nor hold the sceptre in his childish fist,
Nor wear the diadem upon his head,
Whose churchlike humors fits not for a crown.
Then, York, be still awhile, till time do serve.
Watch thou and wake when others be asleep,
To pry into the secrets of the state.
Till Henry, surfeiting in joys of love,
With his new bride and England’s dear-bought queen,
And Humphrey with the peers be fallen at jars.
Then will I raise aloft the milk-white rose,
With whose sweet smell the air shall be perfumed,
And in my standard bear the arms of York
To grapple with the house of Lancaster;
And force perforce I’ll make him yield the crown
Whose bookish rule hath pulled fair England down.

Read the play here

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