• Enter KING Henry in his nightgown, with a page

    KING

    Go call the Earls of Surrey and of Warwick;
    But, ere they come, bid them o'erread these letters
    And well consider of them. Make good speed.
    Exit page
    How many thousand of my poorest subjects
    5Are at this hour asleep! O sleep, O gentle sleep,
    Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
    That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down
    And steep my senses in forgetfulness?
    Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs,
    10Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee
    And hushed with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber,
    Than in the perfumed chambers of the great,
    Under the canopies of costly state,
    And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody?
    15O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile
    In loathsome beds and leavest the kingly couch
    A watch-case or a common 'larum bell?
    Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast
    Seal up the shipboy’s eyes, and rock his brains
    20In cradle of the rude imperious surge
    And in the visitation of the winds,
    Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
    Curling their monstrous heads and hanging them
    With deafening clamor in the slippery clouds
    25That with the hurly death itself awakes?
    Canst thou, O partial sleep, give thy repose
    To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude,
  • KING Henry enters, wearing his nightgown. A page follows.

    KING

    Call the earls of Surrey and Warwick. Tell them to read over these letters before they come, and to think carefully about them. Hurry.
    The page exits.
    Thousands of even my poorest subjects are sleeping right now. Oh sleep! Oh sweet sleep, nature’s gentle healer, what have I done to frighten you? You won’t weigh down my eyelids anymore, or dull my mind to make me forget. Sleep, why do you lie in filthy hovels, stretched out on uncomfortable cots, where insects' buzzing is the lullaby? Why don’t you lie in the sweet-smelling bedrooms of kings, under opulent canopies, lulled with soft and beautiful music? You drowsy god, why do you lie with the common people in their loathsome beds, leaving the royal bed lonely like a sentry post, or a bell tower?
    Will you even close the eyes of a ship boy, high up on the whirling mast, and rock him gently in a cradle made of rough, tossing seas and howling winds—winds which take the waves and, curling them over, crashes them through the air with such a deafening noise that they wake death itself? Can you, oh unfair sleep, give rest to a drenched little sailor in the midst of such roughness, and yet deny it to a king?