Diane Duane

A little science. A little magic. A little chicken soup.

This day is call’d the feast of Crispian

He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when this day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say, “To-morrow is Saint Crispian.”
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars,
And say, “These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.”
Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,
But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day. Then shall our names,
Familiar in his mouth as household words,
Harry the King, Bedford, and Exeter,
Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
Be in their flowing cups freshly rememb’red.
This story shall the good man teach his son;
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered-
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.”

…And with these verses, happy memories of a convention in the south of England some years ago. Peter and I were guests, along with the great John Rhys-Davies, fresh from work on the first Lord of the Rings movie.

At the committee dinner we were sitting together, and somehow Shakespeare came up. I can’t remember whether Peter quoted the first line initially or whether John did, but whichever of them started it, the other one immediately came in with the next line, and within a few verses they were reciting it in unison.

They went straight through to the end, and the whole restaurant around us got quiet to listen (with reason, as when Rhys-Davies lets loose, the dishes rattle, and Peter was matching him decibel for decibel).

They finished, and the committee/guest table went up in a roar of applause (as did some of the other tables in the restaurant). John and Peter laughed and hugged. And as the normal sound levels around us resumed, we heard one lady at another table say brightly to her tablemates, after craning her neck to get a glimpse of John:

"Oh, look, isn’t that lovely? It’s Luciano Pavarotti!"

(grin) Happy St. Crispin’s Day, everybody.