This cockpit held those vasty fields: I saw
Harfleur in flames; men called back to the breach;
The king declare he wished not one more man
On Crispin Crispianus and beseech
God, and his ragged rogues, as longed-for day
Broke over Agincourt; the turncoat mud
Drag down the new-dubbed knights; the French dismay
And English wonder at the fall of blood.
This is not history, law or holy writ
As some would claim. A play, no more. But I’d
Defy one born in Albion to sit
And watch without a heart made big with pride.
Let ages pass and custom fail: we’ll still
Cry God for Harry, England – and for Will.
I had the immense pleasure and privilege of seeing Henry V at Shakespeare’s Globe in London on Friday. I’d booked the tickets months ago and been looking forward to it enormously; this was my fifth trip to the Globe but my first ‘history play’. Needless to say, it was wonderful from start to finish. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee left me largely unmoved, and the less said about the Olympic Games the better. But this production (with the fantastically talented Jamie Parker in the title role), the theatre itself and, of course, Will Shakespeare’s immortal words, reminded me that there are still some reasons to be proud – or, at least, not entirely ashamed – of this benighted country of ours.