Shakespeare’s only All Soul’s Day Speech

Today (Monday) is All Souls Day, AKA  “Dia DeLos Muertos.”  Shakespeare writes an incredible speech for a character when he realizes it’s all soul’s day, but i couldn’t find a version of it online. That’s why I decided to do it myself! This is a speech that comes from Shakespeare’s bloody history play, “Richard the Third.”

The ending shot of the BBC's 1978 TV version of "Richard III."
The ending shot of the BBC’s 1978 TV version of “Richard III.”

To set the scene, the character Buckingham has worked as a vile two-faced politician working for Richard Gloucester, Shakespeare’s most evil and tyrannical king. To support Richard’s quest for the throne, Buckingham has arranged the murders of kings, princes, lords, ladies, and basically anyone who got in their way. All the while, he has acted like a nice and loyal Yorkist nobleman, and even swears to protect and serve them.


Whenever Buckingham doth turn his hate
On you or yours, To the Queen

but with all duteous love
Doth cherish you and yours, God punish me
With hate in those where I expect most love!
When I have most need to employ a friend,
And most assured that he is a friend
Deep, hollow, treacherous, and full of guile,
Be he unto me! this do I beg of God,
When I am cold in zeal to yours (Richard III, Act II, Scene ii).

After Richard becomes king, he slights Buckingham, who then gets bitter and joins Richard’s  enemies. Richard then captures the duke, and sentences him to death by beheading. The day he is to be executed is, you guessed it, All Soul’s Day, which forces Buckingham to confront all the souls Buckingham is directly or indirectly responsible for taking. I hope you enjoy my interpretation!


Here’s the text of the speech here:


Why, then All-Souls’ day is my body’s doomsday.
This is the day that, in King Edward’s time,
I wish’t might fall on me, when I was found
False to his children or his wife’s allies
This is the day wherein I wish’d to fall
By the false faith of him I trusted most;
This, this All-Souls’ day to my fearful soul
Is the determined respite of my wrongs:
That high All-Seer that I dallied with
Hath turn’d my feigned prayer on my head
And given in earnest what I begg’d in jest.
Thus doth he force the swords of wicked men
To turn their own points on their masters’ bosoms:
Now Margaret’s curse is fallen upon my head;
‘When he,’ quoth she, ‘shall split thy heart with sorrow,
Remember Margaret was a prophetess.’
Come, sirs, convey me to the block of shame;
Wrong hath but wrong, and blame the due of blame.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s