18. Band of Brothers: St. Crispin Day Speech: Henry V: William Shakespeare

Okay, this is not a poem but a bit from William Shakespeare’s Henry V (Act IV, Scene 3). This is only the end, and I suggest that for those high-flyers you give them the entire speech. I also suggest a clip from Kenneth Branagh’s version of Henry V, found on YouTube.

In Shakespeare’s version of history, Henry V made this speech right before the Battle of Agincourt. As a king leading his men against the French, they were outnumbered four-to-one. This is a classic rallying speech, right up there with the best that sports movies have to offer. Indeed, I have used this in the class before the big football game. It is used a lot in war movies. It is a call for glory, and that their odds will only make their glory all the more glorious (this is what I cut, as the point is mixed in with other stuff). As old men, on the anniversary of this day (which happens to be St. Crispin’s Day) they and others will look on their scars and marvel that they were once part of something so important. That is below, along with the sentiment that these common wounds and experiences will forever bind them together. Good stuff.

St. Crispin Speech: “Band of Brothers”
William Shakespeare

And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
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.

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