“Now is the Winter of our discontent…” — in Original Pronunciation
I was asked to record the opening speech of Richard 3 for the British Library’s Evolving English Exhibition. Knowing the listener would be using headphones while reading the original Quarto edition, I found myself whispering the speech into the microphone. Have a listen and get inside Richard’s head… The Folio text is below.
Enter Richard Duke of Gloster, solus.
Now is the Winter of our Discontent,
Made glorious Summer by this Son of Yorke:
And all the clouds that lowr’d vpon our house
In the deepe bosome of the Ocean buried.
Now are our browes bound with Victorious Wreathes,
Our bruised armes hung vp for Monuments;
Our sterne Alarums chang’d to merry Meetings;
Our dreadfull Marches, to delightfull Measures.
Grim-visag’d Warre, hath smooth’d his wrinkled Front:
And now, in stead of mounting Barbed Steeds,
To fright the Soules of fearfull Aduersaries,
He capers nimbly in a Ladies Chamber,
To the lasciuious pleasing of a Lute.*
But I, that am not shap’d for sportiue trickes,
Nor made to court an amorous Looking-glasse:
I, that am Rudely stampt, and want loues Maiesty,
To strut before a wonton ambling Nymph:
I, that am curtail’d of this faire Proportion,
Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature,**
Deform’d, vn-finish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made vp,
And that so lamely and vnfashionable,
That dogges barke at me, as I halt by them.
Why I (in this weake piping time of Peace)
Haue no delight to passe away the time,
Vnlesse to see my Shadow in the Sunne,
And descant on mine owne Deformity.
*In the Quarto text the word is Love, not Lute
**I think my favourite bit is the way the rhythm begins to canter here…