Oh, for a muse of fire that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention!
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act,
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
If only we had divine inspiration, our play might rise
to the highest level of imagination!
If we had a stage as big as a kingdom, real kings and queens to act the part of kings and queens,
and royalty to also witness the glorious spectacle, then it would be as it really was.
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars, and at his heels,
Leashed in like hounds, should famine, sword, and fire
Crouch for employment.
Then valiant King Harry would resemble the god of war, as he did in life,
and famine, sword, and fire would sit like dogs at his feet,
waiting to be unleashed.
But pardon, gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that hath dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object.
But, ladies and gentlemen, since that’s not the case,
you must forgive us plain, ordinary men who dare
to act out so great a story on this humble stage.
Can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? Or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
Can this theater contain the sweeping fields of France? Could we even squeeze
into this little theater the helmets that looked so frightening at Agincourt?
O pardon, since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million,
And let us, ciphers to this great account,
On your imaginary forces work.
But, pardon us, because just as a few strokes of a pen can signify a huge number,
we, who are zeros in this great story, can work on your imagination.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder.
Pretend that within the edges of this theater
sit two great kingdoms divided by a narrow but dangerous ocean.
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.