Act 5 - Scene 3
Another part of the field.
Enter POSTHUMUS LEONATUS and a British Lord
Camest thou from where they made the stand?
Though you, it seems, come from the fliers.
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 straight lane; the enemy full-
Lolling the tongue with slaughtering, having work
More plentiful than tools to do't, struck down
mortally, some slightly touch'd, some falling
Merely through fear; that the straight pass was damm'd
dead men hurt behind, and cowards living
To die with lengthen'd shame.
Where was this lane?
Close by the battle, ditch'd, and wall'd with turf;
Which gave advantage to an ancient soldier,
one, I warrant; who deserved
So long a breeding as his white beard came to,
In doing this for's country: athwart
He, with two striplings-lads more like to run
The country base than to commit such slaughter
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.
Or we are Romans and will give you that
Like beasts which you shun beastly, and may save,
look back in frown: stand, stand.'
Three thousand confident, in act as many
For three performers
are the file when all
The rest do nothingwith this word 'Stand, stand,'
Accommodated by the place, more
With their own nobleness, which could have turn'd
A distaff to a lance, gilded pale looks,
shame, part spirit renew'd; that some,
But by exampleO, a sin in war,
Damn'd in the first
beginners!gan to look
The way that they did, and to grin like lions
Upon the pikes o' the hunters. Then
A stop i' the chaser, a retire, anon
A rout, confusion thick; forthwith they fly
Chickens, the way which
they stoop'd eagles; slaves,
The strides they victors made: and now our cowards,
Like fragments in hard
The life o' the need: having found the backdoor open
Of the unguarded hearts, heavens,
how they wound!
Some slain before; some dying; some their friends
O'er borne i' the former wave: ten, chased
Are now each one the slaughter-man of twenty:
Those that would die or ere resist are grown
mortal bugs o' the field.
This was strange chance
A narrow lane, an old man, and two boys.
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