After a brief break, the Quote of the Fortnight is back! This week’s quote is a speech from William Shakespeare’s “Richard II,” the first play in the so-called “Henriad,” the series of plays concerning Henry IV and his son, Henry V, two of the greatest English kings. Concerning the weak and corrupt rule of Richard II, this play follows his fall from power at the hands of his cousin the Duke of Lancaster, Henry Bolingbroke, who becomes King Henry IV. In this scene, John of Gaunt, Bolingbroke’s father, is dying, and hopes that his status of dying may make Richard II finally listen to his advice. His words are one of Shakespeare’s great speeches. Enjoy!
John of Gaunt:
“O, but they say the tongues of dying men
enforce attention like deep harmony.
Where words are scarce, they are seldom spent in vain,
For they breathe truth that breathe their words in pain.
He that no more must say is listened more
Than they whom youth and ease have taught to gloze.
More are men’s ends marked than their lives before.
The setting sun, and music at the close,
As the last taste of sweets, is sweetest last,
Writ in remembrance more than things long past.
Though Richard my life’s counsel would not hear,
My death’s sad tale may yet undeaf his ear.”