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Cam’st thou from where they made the stand?

Cam’st thou from where they made the stand?
I did,
Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.

Today how many would have given their honors
To have saved their carcasses, took heel to do ’t,
And yet died too!

No blame be to you, sir, for all was lost,
But that the heavens fought. The King himself
Of his wings destitute, the army broken,
And but the backs of Britons seen, all flying
Through a strait lane; the enemy full-hearted,
Lolling the tongue with slaught’ring, having work
More plentiful than tools to do ’t, struck down
Some mortally, some slightly touched, some falling
Merely through fear, that the strait pass was dammed
With dead men hurt behind and cowards living
To die with lengthened shame.
Where was this lane?
Close by the battle, ditched, and walled with turf;
Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,
An honest one, I warrant, who deserved
So long a breeding as his white beard came to,
In doing this for ’s country. Athwart the lane,
He with two striplings—lads more like to run
The country base than to commit such slaughter,
With faces fit for masks, or rather fairer
Than those for preservation cased or shame—
Made good the passage, cried to those that fled
“Our Britain’s harts die flying, not our men.
To darkness fleet souls that fly backwards. Stand,
Or we are Romans and will give you that
Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save
But to look back in frown. Stand, stand!” These three,
Three thousand confident, in act as many—
For three performers are the file when all
The rest do nothing—with this word “Stand, stand,”
Accommodated by the place, more charming
With their own nobleness, which could have turned
A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks,
Part shame, part spirit renewed; that some, turned coward
But by example—O, a sin in war,
Damned in the first beginners!—gan to look
The way that they did and to grin like lions
Upon the pikes o’ th’ hunters. Then began
A stop i’ th’ chaser, a retire; anon
A rout, confusion thick. Forthwith they fly
Chickens the way which they stooped eagles; slaves
The strides they victors made; and now our cowards,
Like fragments in hard voyages, became
The life o’ th’ need. Having found the backdoor open
Of the unguarded hearts, heavens, how they wound!
Some slain before, some dying, some their friends
O’erborne i’ th’ former wave, ten chased by one,
Are now each one the slaughterman of twenty.
Those that would die or ere resist are grown
The mortal bugs o’ th’ field.
This was strange chance:
A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.
Nay, do not wonder at it. You are made
Rather to wonder at the things you hear
Than to work any. Will you rhyme upon ’t
And vent it for a mock’ry? Here is one:
“Two boys, an old man twice a boy, a lane,
Preserved the Britons, was the Romans’ bane.”
Nay, be not angry, sir.
’Lack, to what end?
Who dares not stand his foe, I’ll be his friend;
For if he’ll do as he is made to do,
I know he’ll quickly fly my friendship too.
You have put me into rhyme.
Farewell. You’re angry.
 He exits.
Still going? This is a lord! O noble misery,
To be i’ th’ field and ask “What news?” of me!
Today how many would have given their honors
To have saved their carcasses, took heel to do ’t,
And yet died too! I, in mine own woe charmed,
Could not find Death where I did hear him groan,
Nor feel him where he struck. Being an ugly monster,
’Tis strange he hides him in fresh cups, soft beds,
Sweet words, or hath more ministers than we
That draw his knives i’ th’ war. Well, I will find him;
For being now a favorer to the Briton,
No more a Briton. (He removes his peasant
) I have resumed again
The part I came in. Fight I will no more,
But yield me to the veriest hind that shall
Once touch my shoulder. Great the slaughter is
Here made by th’ Roman; great the answer be
Britons must take. For me, my ransom’s death.
On either side I come to spend my breath,
Which neither here I’ll keep nor bear again,
But end it by some means for Imogen.

Act 5
Scene 3
Line 1

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