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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
England: Vols. I–IV. 1876–79.

Wales: Barkloughly Castle

Richard the Second at Barkloughly Castle

By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

NEEDS must I like it well; I weep for joy,

To stand upon my kingdom once again.—

Dear earth, I do salute thee with my hand,

Though rebels wound thee with their horses’ hoofs.

As a long-parted mother with her child

Plays fondly with her tears and smiles, in meeting:

So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth,

And do thee favor with my royal hands.

Feed not thy sovereign’s foe, my gentle earth,

Nor with thy sweets comfort his ravenous sense;

But let thy spiders, that suck up thy venom,

And heavy-gaited toads, lie in their way,

Doing annoyance to the treacherous feet,

Which with usurping steps do trample thee.

Yield stinging nettles to mine enemies;

And when they from thy bosom pluck a flower,

Guard it, I pray thee, with a lurking adder;

Whose double tongue may with a mortal touch

Throw death upon thy sovereign’s enemies.—

Mock not my senseless conjuration, lords;

This earth shall have a feeling, and these stones

Prove armed soldiers, ere her native king

Shall falter under foul rebellion’s arms.


Of comfort no man speak.

Let ’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs;

Make dust our paper, and with rainy eyes

Write sorrow on the bosom of the earth.

Let ’s choose executors, and talk of wills:

And yet not so,—for what can we bequeath,

Save our deposed bodies to the ground?

Our lands, our lives, and all are Bolingbroke’s,

And nothing can we call our own but death,

And that small module of the barren earth

Which serves as paste and cover to our bones.

For heaven’s sake let us sit upon the ground,

And tell sad stories of the death of kings:—

How some have been depos’d, some slain in war,

Some haunted by the ghosts they have depos’d,

Some poison’d by their wives, some sleeping kill’d;

All murder’d: for within the hollow crown,

That rounds the mortal temples of a king,

Keeps Death his court. And there the antic sits,

Scoffing his state, and grinning at his pomp;

Allowing him a breath, a little scene

To monarchize, be fear’d, and kill with looks;

Infusing him with self and vain conceit,—

As if this flesh, which walls about our life,

Were brass impregnable; and, humor’d thus,

Comes at the last, and with a little pin

Bores through his castle wall, and—Farewell, king!

Cover your heads, and mock not flesh and blood

With solemn reverence; throw away respect,

Tradition, form, and ceremonious duty,

For you have but mistook me all this while.

I live with bread like you, feel want, taste grief,

Need friends. Subjected thus, how can you say

To me, I am a king?