First thing this morning, I put my red on. But it wasn’t in honor of the faltering Caps.
I vested in a blood-red chasuble in honor of the martyr Saint Denis, who was beheaded 1751 years ago today. He was the first to preach the Gospel in Paris.
In Act V, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Henry V, the king invokes the aid of St. Denis.
Henry is trying to woo the Princess of France. But she is stone-faced, because she thinks Henry is an “enemy of France.”
Katharine. I cannot tell vat is dat.
No, Kate? I will tell thee in French; which I am
sure will hang upon my tongue like a new-married
wife about her husband’s neck, hardly to be shook
off. Je quand sur le possession de France, et quand
vous avez le possession de moi,—let me see, what
then? Saint Denis be my speed!—donc votre est
France et vous etes mienne. It is as easy for me,
Kate, to conquer the kingdom as to speak so much
more French: I shall never move thee in French,
unless it be to laugh at me.
When Kenneth Branagh delivered this line in his movie version, he skipped the invocation of St. Denis. Not a good idea!
Perhaps you recall: The transformation of the capering Prince Hal into the formidable King Henry V is the new “defining motif” of this humble weblog. (Scroll down if you click the link.)
This same tranformation, however, broke the spirit of Prince Hal’s fellow-caperer, Sir John Falstaff. After the King broke off their friendship, Fallstaff’s dissolute life finally caught up with him, and he died.
In Henry V, when Falstaff’s friend Bardolph hears that the jolly knight is dead, he declares:
Would I were with him, wheresome’er he is, either in
heaven or in hell! (Act II, Scene 3)
As the statement of a Christian, this sentence makes no sense. In hell, it is impossible to enjoy each other’s company. But as the lament of a friend, it is heartbreakingly beautiful.
…John Wilson was a member of the D.C. City Council when I was in high-school. When I was in college, he became the chairman.