Be King Henry

advice to a grandchild     

Mistakes of your youth
may one day make you cringe,
but remember King Henry

for the entire kingdom was certain
he would always be Prince Hal,
a silly, insubstantial boy
making merry with drunkards
worth no more than a few tennis balls

until Hal became the Warrior King,
led his army across the English Channel,
defeated the French at Agincourt,
and married the princess.

Ignore the babble of the rabble,
but remember King Henry.

And we understand him well
How he comes o’er us with our wilder days
Not measuring what use we made of them.
(Wm Shakespeare, Henry V: Act 1, Scene 2)

The story of irresponsible Prince Hal becoming King Henry V is a favorite of mine, no doubt because I see some aspect of his maturation reflected in my own life story. The video conveys a young King Henry’s reaction (played by Kenneth Branagh) to a mocking gift of tennis balls from the Dauphin (the eldest son of the King of France). King Henry’s speech to his army before the Battle of Agincourt – on the eve of St. Crispin’s Day – is a masterpiece of inspiration. A friend of mine is nearing 80 but can still recite it from memory.

On a personal note, I need a few weeks off to get our taxes organized. I’ll try to re-post an earlier entry each Monday (try being the operative word) until I’ve got time for posting new poems again. As always, feel free to contact me via the comment feature or by email (see contact link at the top of each post).

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A New Poem Every Monday
(tho’ sometimes life gets in the way)

Joseph Neely, all rights reserved 2023