Richard II (excerpts): Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand

Richard II (excerpts): Oh, who can hold a fire in his hand

Original Text

Mr William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies (London: Printed by Isaac Jaggard and Ed. Blount, 1623): sig. C2. STC (2nd ed.) 22273

4By bare imagination of a feast?
5Or wallow naked in December snow
7Oh no, the apprehension of the good
8Gives but the greater feeling to the worse;
10Than when it bites but lanceth not the sore.


1] Henry Bolingbroke responds to John of Gaunt's suggestion that imagination can reconfigure suffering in Act 1, scene 3. Back to Line
2] Caucasus: high mountain range connecting Europe and Asia. Back to Line
3] cloy: to satiate, but also in this case to "obstruct or impede" (OED v.6) appetite's "hungry," or encroaching, "edge." Back to Line
6] fantastic: merely imagined. Back to Line
9] Fell sorrow's tooth ... the sore: the bite of sadness will "rankle" (become infected) and an imaginative denial of reality will not heal the wound. Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Christopher Matusiak
RPO Edition