David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s 3 HENRY VI: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Scenes 3-5

— 2.3 —

The Battle of Towton was taking place on 29 March 1461 on a battlefield near Leeds in Yorkshire. An exhausted Earl of Warwick stood alone.

The Earl of Warwick said, “Exhausted with toil, as runners with a race, I lay me down a little while to rest, for strokes received, and many blows repaid, have robbed my strongly knit musclesof their strength, and come what may I must rest awhile.”

Duke Edward of York arrived, running, and said, “Smile, gentle, noble Heaven! Or strike, ungentle, ignoble death! For this world frowns, and Edward’s sun is clouded.”

“What is it, my lord!” the Earl of Warwick asked. “What has happened? What hope of good fortune do we have?”

George arrived and said, “Our fortune is loss, and our hope is only sad despair. Our ranks are broken, and ruin follows us. What counsel can you give? Whither shall we flee?”

“Fight is useless,” Edward said. “They follow us with wings, and we are weak and cannot avoid pursuit.”

Richard arrived and said, “Ah, Warwick, why have you withdrawn yourself? Your bastard brother’s blood — not the blood of the Marquess of Montague — the thirsty earth has drunk after the steely point of Clifford’s lance pierced him like a wine cask. And in the very pangs of death he cried, like a dismal clangor heard from afar, ‘Warwick, revenge! Brother, revenge my death!’ So, underneath the belly of their steeds that stained their fetlocks in his steaming blood, the noble gentleman gave up the ghost.”

Enraged, the Earl of Warwick cried, “Then let the earth become drunken with our blood! I’ll kill my horse because I will not flee! Why do we stand here like soft-hearted women, bewailing our losses, while the foe rages? Why do we look upon these events as if the tragedy were played in jest by counterfeiting, feigning actors?”

He knelt and said, “Here on my knee I vow to God above, I’ll never pause again, never stand still, until either death has closed these eyes of mine or Lady Fortune has given me my measure — my share — of revenge.”

Duke Edward of York knelt and said, “Oh, Warwick, I bend my knee with yours, and in this vow I chain my soul to yours!

“And, before my knee rises from the earth’s cold face, I throw my hands, my eyes, my heart to You, God, You setter up and plucker down of Kings. I beseech You that if with Your will it stands that this body must be prey to my foes, yet may your strong gates of Heaven open and give sweet passage inside to my sinful soul!

Daniel 2:21 states, “And he changeth the times and seasons: he taketh away kings: he setteth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto the wise, and understanding to those that understand” (1599 Geneva Bible).

Duke Edward of York continued, “Now, lords, let us take leave until we meet again, wherever it be, in Heaven or on Earth.”

Richard said, “Brother, give me your hand, and gentle Warwick, let me embrace you in my weary arms. I, who never did weep, now melt with woe that winter should cut off our springtime so.”

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” the Earl of Warwick said. “Once more, sweet lords, farewell.”

George said, “Yet let us all together go to our troops and give permission to flee to those who will not stay. And let us call them pillars who will stand by and support us; we will promise them such rewards as victors wear at the Olympian games if we thrive. This may plant courage in their quailing breasts, for yet there is hope of life and victory. Delay no longer; let’s go away from here at full speed.”

— 2.4 —

In another part of the battlefield, Richard and Lord Clifford met.

Richard said, “Now, Clifford, I have singled you out of the herd so that you are alone and I can hunt you. Suppose this arm of mine is for the Duke of York, and this arm of mine is for Rutland. Both of my arms are under an obligation to get revenge even if you were surrounded by a strong bronze wall.”

“Now, Richard, I am with you here alone,” Lord Clifford replied. “This is the hand that stabbed your father York, and this is the hand that slew your brother Rutland, and here’s the heart that triumphs and exults in their death and cheers these hands that slew your sire and brother to execute the same slaughter upon yourself. And so, let’s fight!”

They fought, but the Earl of Warwick arrived. Unwilling to fight both Richard and the Earl of Warwick, one against two, Lord Clifford fled.

Richard said, “No, Warwick, single out some other game to hunt, for I myself will hunt this wolf to death.”

Richard ran after Lord Clifford.

— 2.5 —

In another part of the battlefield, King Henry VI said to himself, “This battle fares like the morning’s war, when dying clouds contend with growing light at that time the shepherd, blowing on his fingernails to warm his hands, can call it neither perfect day nor perfect night.

“Now sways the morning’s war this way, like a mighty sea forced by the tide to combat with the wind. Now sways it that way, like the selfsame sea forced to retire by the fury of the wind. Sometimes the flood prevails, and then the wind prevails. Now one is the better, and then another is best. Both are tugging to be victors, breast to breast, yet neither is conqueror nor conquered, and so the morning’s war is the equal of this deadly war.

“Here on this molehill I will sit down.

“To whom God will, there be the victory! My Queen Margaret and Clifford, too, have scolded me and shooed me away from the battle, both of them swearing that they prosper best of all when I am absent.

“I wish that I were dead — if God’s good will would have it so — for what is in this world but grief and woe?

“Oh, God! I think it would be a happy life to be no better than a simple shepherd, to sit upon a hill, as I do now, to artfully carve out sundials in the turf of a hillside, point by point, thereby to see how the minutes run, how many minutes make the hour fully complete, how many hours bring about the day, how many days will finish up the year, and how many years a mortal man may live.

“When this is known, then to divide the times: So many hours must I tend my flock, so many hours must I take my rest, so many hours must I contemplate and pray, so many hours must I entertain myself, so many days my ewes have been with young, so many weeks before the poor fools will give birth, and so many years before I shall shear the fleece.

“In this way, minutes, hours, days, months, and years would pass over to the purpose for which they were created, and they would bring white hairs to a quiet grave.

“Ah, what a life would this be! How sweet! How lovely!

“Doesn’t the hawthorn bush give a sweeter shade to shepherds looking on their defenseless sheep than a rich embroidered canopy does to Kings who fear their subjects’ treachery? Oh, yes, it does — a thousand-fold it does.

“And to conclude, the shepherd’s homely curds, his cold, thin drink out of his leather bottle, his usual sleep under a fresh tree’s shade, all of which he enjoys securely and sweetly, is far beyond a Prince’s delicacies, his food sparkling in a golden cup, his body couched in a finely wrought bed, when care, mistrust, and treason lie in wait for him.”

A trumpet sounded a battle call.

Two soldiers arrived and fought. The younger soldier killed the older soldier.

The younger soldier said, “Ill blows the wind that profits nobody. This man, whom hand to hand I slew in fight, may be possessed with some store of coins, and I, who happen to take them from him now, may yet before night yield both my life and the coins to some other man, as this dead man does to me.”

He took the older soldier’s helmet off and said, “Who’s this? Oh, God! It is the face of my father, whom in this conflict I have killed without knowing who he was.

“Oh, heavy, sorrowful times, begetting such events! From London I was impressed by the King into the King’s army. My father, being the Earl of Warwick’s man, came here to fight on the side of the Duke of York after being impressed by his master into the Duke’s army.

“And I, who at my father’s hands received my life, have by my hands bereaved him of life.

“Pardon me, God. I knew not what I did! And pardon me, father, for I did not know who you were!

“My tears shall wipe away these bloody marks on my father’s face, and I will say no more words until my tears have flowed their fill.”

King Henry VI said, “Oh, piteous spectacle! Oh, bloody times! While lions war and battle for their dens, poor harmless lambs endure their enmity.

“Weep, wretched man, I’ll aid you tear for tear, and let our hearts and eyes, like civil war, be blind with tears, and break overburdened with grief.”

Two more soldiers arrived and fought. The older soldier killed the younger soldier.

The older soldier said, “You who so bravely have resisted me, give me your gold, if you have any gold, for I have bought it with a hundred blows.”

He took the younger soldier’s helmet off and said, “But let me see. Is this our foeman’s face? Ah, no, no, no, it is the face of my only son!

“Ah, boy, if any life is left in you, open your eyes! See, see what showers arise, blown with the windy tempest of my heart, upon your wounds that kill my eyes and heart!

“Oh, pity, God, this miserable age! What bloodthirsty deeds, how deadly, how butcherly, criminal, mutinous and unnatural and abnormal, this deadly quarrel daily begets!

“Oh, boy, your father gave you life too soon, and he has bereft you of your life too late!

“Oh, boy, your father gave you life too soon because you are old enough to be a soldier, and he has lived too long — because he lived long enough to bereft you of your life!”

King Henry VI said, “Woe above woe! Grief more than common grief! I wish that my death would stop these piteous deeds! Oh, pity, pity, gentle Heaven, have pity!

“The red rose and the white rose are on his face, the fatal colors of our striving Houses. The one his red blood very well resembles; the other his pale cheeks, I think, present. May one rose wither and let the other rose flourish. If the red rose and the white rose fight, a thousand lives must wither.”

The son who had killed his father said, “How my mother will be angry with me because of a father’s death and never be happy again!”

The father who had killed his son said, “How my wife will shed seas of tears because of the slaughter of my son and never be happy again!”

King Henry VI said, “How the country because of these woeful occurrences will think ill of the King and not be happy!”

The son who had killed his father said, “Has a son ever so rued a father’s death?”

The father who had killed his son said, “Has a father ever so mourned his son?”

King Henry VI said, “Has a King ever so grieved for subjects’ woe? Much is your sorrow; mine is ten times as much.”

The son who had killed his father said, “I’ll carry you away to a place where I may weep my fill.”

He exited, carrying his father’s corpse.

The father who had killed his son said, “These arms of mine shall be your shroud. My heart, sweet boy, shall be your sepulcher, for from my heart your image shall never go. My sighing breast shall be your funeral bell, and so dutiful in performing your funeral rites will your father be, even for the loss of you, my only son, as Priam was for all his valiant sons.”

Priam, King of Troy, lost many of his fifty sons during the Trojan War.

The father who had killed his son continued, “I’ll carry you away from here, and let them fight who will, for I have murdered where I should not kill.”

He exited, carrying his son’s corpse.

King Henry VI said, “Sad-hearted men, much overcome with cares and concerns, here sits a King more woeful than you are.”

Queen Margaret, Prince Edward, and the Duke of Exeter arrived.

Prince Edward said to King Henry VI, “Flee, father, flee! For all your friends have fled, and Warwick rages like an angry bull! Run away! Death pursues us!”

“Mount on horseback, my lord,” Queen Margaret said. “Ride towards Berwick-on-Tweed in Northumberland as quickly as you can. Edward and Richard, like a pair of greyhounds that have the fearful, fleeing hare in sight, with their fiery eyes sparkling with thorough-going wrath, and bloody steel swords grasped in their angry hands, are at our backs, and therefore you need to go away from here as quickly as possible.”

The Duke of Exeter said, “Run away! For vengeance comes along with them. No, don’t cause delay by speaking; make a speedy exit now, or else follow me later. I’m going now.”

“No, take me with you, good sweet Exeter,” King Henry VI said. “Not that I fear to stay, but that I love to go wherever the Queen journeys. Forward; let’s go!”

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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David Bruce: Work Anecdotes

Studs Terkel knows his history, and he uses it in arguments. Because he lives in Chicago, he never learned how to drive; after all, buses go everywhere he needs to go in Chicago. At the bus stop one day, he sees a middle-class couple. She is beautiful, wears Neiman-Marcus clothing, and carries Vanity Fair. He wears Gucci shoes and has a copy of The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Terkel talks to all kinds of people, and he speaks to this couple. He says to them, “Tomorrow is Labor Day: the holiday to ‘honor the unions.’” This couple’s attitude toward what he says shows that they don’t like unions. Mr. Terkel asks, “How many hours do you work a day?” The man replies that he works eight hours per day. Mr. Terkel asks, “How come you don’t work 18 hours a day, like your great-grandparents?” The man doesn’t know history, so he can’t answer the questions. Mr. Terkel does know history, and he answers his own question: “Because four men got hanged for you.” Mr. Terkel tells the man that he is referring to the 1886 Haymarket Affair, in which four men ended up being hung. Mr. Terkel then asks, “’How many days a week do you work?” The man’s answer is five days a week. Mr. Terkel says, “Five—oh, really? How come you don’t work six and a half?” The man doesn’t know history, so he can’t answer the questions. Mr. Terkel does know history, and he answers his own question: “’Because of the Memorial Day Massacre. These battles were fought, all for you.” He then informs the man about the 1937 massacre of workers in Chicago. The bus comes then, and the history lesson ends—much to the couple’s relief.

Artist John Buscema worked for a while creating comic books, but he began to work in advertising after comic books came under attack in the mid- and late 1950s as a result of a psychologist named Fredric Wertham, who published a book titled Seduction of the Innocent after noticing that the juvenile delinquents he worked with read comic books. (So did the author of this blog post, and so probably did the reader of this blog post.) A problem with Mr. Buscema’s advertising job was that he had to commute a long distance and work long hours, with the result that he seldom saw his son awake during his son’s first year of life. Mr. Buscema says that “I would get home, and he’d be asleep. I would leave, and he’d be asleep. The weekends would come around, and I could go home, but I’d be working. It was a real cutthroat business.” In 1966, his old boss at Marvel Comics, Stan Lee, called him with a job offer. Because Mr. Buscema could work at home and could see his son while his son was awake, he accepted the job offer and started working on such comics as The Fantastic 4Spider-Man, The Silver Surfer, Conan the Barbarian, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, and The Avengers. As a result, he earned a nickname: The Michelangelo of Comics.

Comedian Jimmy Durante started out in show business as a piano player. Singer and comedian Eddie Cantor was the first person to urge Jimmy to get up on stage and away from the piano: “Piano playing is going to get you nothing. You’ll be a piano player till you’re a hundred years. You gotta look further than that. People like you a whole lot. So why don’t you get up on the floor and say something to the people?” Eventually, of course, Mr. Durante took Mr. Cantor’s advice. However, his immediate reaction was, “Gee, Eddie, I wouldn’t do that. I’d be afraid that people would laugh at me.”

Lon Chaney, Sr., aka the Man with a Thousand Faces, worked hard in his early days in movies. He sat in a room (called the bullpen) with many other bit-part actors. At times during the day, a director would come along and say something like “I need a college boy. Can anybody here play a college boy?” or “I need a Chinese man. Can anybody here play a Chinese man?” Whatever the director asked for, Mr. Chaney would say, “Yeah, I can play that.” In this way, he made appearances in three or four movies each working day.

Otis Williams is the last of the original Temptations, the group that brought us “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg,” “Can’t Get Next to You,” “Get Ready,” “Just My Imagination,” and “Papa was a Rolling Stone.” In addition to his talent with music, he has a talent with words. In 2007, instead of saying that he has no plans to retire at the current time, he said, “I’m going to ride the hair off the horse. When I get off the horse, the horse will be bald.”

Children’s book illustrator and author Margot Zemach worked as a movie usherette at the famous Grauman’s Chinese Theater when she was young. Unfortunately, she could not see well in the dark and so she was a horrible usherette, often stepping on people’s feet and often seating people on top of other people. Fortunately, she got married, started to raise a family, and became a book illustrator—a job she could work at while using one foot to rock a baby bed.

Mickey Mantle’s father worked in the zinc mines of Commerce, Oklahoma, and he wanted Mickey to escape that fate by playing baseball. When Mickey was one day old, his father put a baseball in his hand. When Mickey was four years old, his father put a bat in his hands. When Mickey was five years old, his father began to pitch curve balls to him. Mickey escaped the zinc mines and made a career out of playing for the New York Yankees.

During World War II, many American women became Rosie the Riveters. One such woman, Nova Lee McGhee Holbrook, worked at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California. When her boss warned her that being a welder meant that she would get dirty, she replied, “I can wash it off.”

***

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***

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Edgar Lee Masters: Ida Frickey (Spoon River Anthology)

NOTHlNG in life is alien to you:
I was a penniless girl from Summum
Who stepped from the morning train in Spoon River.
All the houses stood before me with closed doors
And drawn shades—l was barred out;
I had no place or part in any of them.
And I walked past the old McNeely mansion,
A castle of stone ’mid walks and gardens
With workmen about the place on guard
And the County and State upholding it
For its lordly owner, full of pride.
I was so hungry I had a vision:
I saw a giant pair of scissors
Dip from the sky, like the beam of a dredge,
And cut the house in two like a curtain.
But at the “Commercial” I saw a man
Who winked at me as I asked for work—
It was Wash McNeely’s son.
He proved the link in the chain of title
To half my ownership of the mansion,
Through a breach of promise suit—the scissors.
So, you see, the house, from the day I was born,
Was only waiting for me.

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