Therefore all seasons shall be sweet to thee,
Whether summer clothe the general earth
With greeness, or the redbreast sit and sing
Betwixt the tufts of snow on the bare branch
Of mossy apple-tree, while the nigh thatch
Smokes in the sun-thaw; whether the eave-drops fall
Heard only in the trances of the blast,
Or if the secret ministry of frost
Shall hang them up in silent icicles,
Quietly shining to the quiet Moon.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

St George's Day

April 23rd is the feast day of St George, Patron Saint of England. St George's name was invoked to his soldiers by Henry V in his speech on the eve of theBattle of Agincourt in 1415 and after the tremendous victory against all the odds St George's Day was elevated to become a feast day as important as Christmas in the English church calendar. Today is also the anniversary of both the birth and the death of William Shakespeare so in celebration of both England's patron saint's day and of her greatest playwright I am posting these stirring words written by Shakespeare and spoken by Henry V during the Battle of Agincourt.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more Or close the wall up with our English dead! In peace there's nothing so becomes a man As modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of a tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage; Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; Let it pry through the portage of the head like the brass canon; let the brow o'erwhelm it As fearfully as doth a galled rock O'erhang and jutty his confounded base, Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit To his full height! On, on you noblest English! Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof; Fathers, that like so many Alexanders, Have in these parts from morn til even fought, And sheath'd their swords for lack of argument. Dishonour not your mothers; now attest That those whom you call'd fathers did beget you. Be copy now to men of grosser blood, And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman, Whose limbs were made in England, show us here The mettle of your pasture; let us swear That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not; For there is none of you so mean and base That hath not noble lustre in your eyes. I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips, Straining upon the start. The game's afoot: Follow your spirit; and, upon this charge, Cry 'God for Harry! England and Saint George!
Happy St George's Day!


laoi gaul~williams said...

i have always loved those words~they always bring a tingle to the spine.

Anonymous said...

I love that last line!

Have a good St George's Day!

Willow said...

Thanks for posting these words Rowan - I have thoroughly enjoyed reading them again (it's been a while!)Great words with which to celebrate Shakespeare's anniversary!


Lynda (Granny K) said...

Well said Rowan! 'Jerusalem' - the perfect accompaniment!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post Rowan. Happy St George's Day to you.

Rosie said...

Have a good St George's Day - I love that speech and the Branagh film, too.

Anonymous said...

I hope you dont mind but I've added your blog to my blogroll.

Take Care.

Sheila said...

I must watch the film again. The speech and your choice of music made feel very patriotic toward the land of my birth.
Happy St George's Day..!

Unknown said...

Hello Rowan,

I see what you mean. We've even borrowed the same pic from Wiki! Let's take it as "great minds ...."!

Most appropriate to have 'Jerusalem' too. Hope you are enjoying the day.

The artist of the Shakespeare portrait is unknown, sadly. You can learn more at

Cat said...

This was a lovely post today and the song very uplifting.

Thimbleanna said...

Very lovely post Rowan. Happy St. George's Day!

FireLight said...

Rowan, I truly enjoyed reading this. I adore Brannagh's Henry V. It has fabulous music, and he displays great heart in the major speeches. The battle scene is very realistic and hence exhausting...but so very well done!
Thank you. I think I will watch it this weekend.

Anonymous said...

I love that your site is so educational (something I missed out on).
I am learning so much about history, places, art nature here.
Thank you so much xx
and I love the Vaughan Williams x

Julie said...

Such an interesting post, dear Rowan. I will have to remember April 23 as St. George's Day.