Inspiration in Iambic Pentameter

Yes, it is that day, when those now lying happily in their beds shall rue that they were not there, with Harry the King…

Dang, I wish I could write a “Ralleeeeyyyyyyyy!!!” speech like this one. Old Will had a gift, and so does Kenneth Branagh.

I try to show this in class, when I can fit it in. It’s fascinating how the students always sit up straighter and the energy level rises.

15 thoughts on “Inspiration in Iambic Pentameter

    • Fun WIP fact: November 7th 2024 happens to be Saint Crispin’s according to the old Orthodox Calender. (Unless I have made a mistake.) I have a character who is justifiable as both attached to the older Orthodox ways and well read in English literature; he might plausibly be doing something that day which he might interpret as evidence that his action along certain lines is desired. So, no wonder I am in such a mess with my plotting.

  1. I always liked the end of this speech. Ol’ Billy did have a way with words and an understanding of male psychology.

    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.

    Not as genteel as “We shall never surrender!” but boy does it get the testosterone flowing.

  2. The battle in question was Agincourt, when the flower of French nobility fell to the might of the English longbow.

    John Keegan’s book “The Face of Battle” recounts three battles that changed the history of Europe, and the world. Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme.

    I _HIGHLY _ recommend it if you want to know why the battle raged as it did.

  3. Not as succinct as “Nuts” but brilliant. It also helps that we know the outcome of the battle.

  4. That speech was ‘probably’ the reason that they won the battle. Motivation of men works in strange ways…

    • A nice thought, but the REAL reason why the English were victorious was the narrow front of battle (between two groves of trees), and the muddy ground (not really suitable for a charge by armored knights) and the sharpened stakes partly buried to disembowel the horses who would run onto them.

      Because once the armored knight is unhorsed into the mud, it doesn’t take much skill for an English peasant to dispatch him with a dagger.

      • Not to mention the mounted (shortbow) archers that let the English seize the ford, and secure a favorable site for the battle.

  5. Video: 160# draw weight longbow with full weight arrows vs good reproduction of armor made using 14th/15th century methods

  6. As it happens, Branagh’s “Henry V” just popped up on Prime Video this weekend. Or at least I just noticed it on PV. Put on the Watchlist for viewing soon.

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