Now entertain conjecture of a time
When creeping murmur and the poring dark
Fills the wide vessel of the universe.
From camp to camp through the foul womb of night
The hum of either army stilly sounds,
That the fixed sentinels almost receive
The secret whispers of each other's watch:
Fire answers fire, and through their paly flames
Each battle sees the other's umber'd face;
Steed threatens steed, in high and boastful neighs
Piercing the night's dull ear, and from the tents
The armourers, accomplishing the knights,
With busy hammers closing rivets up,
Give dreadful note of preparation:
The country cocks do crow, the clocks do toll,
And the third hour of drowsy morning name.
Proud of their numbers and secure in soul,
The confident and over-lusty French
Do the low-rated English play at dice;
And chide the cripple tardy-gaited night
Who, like a foul and ugly witch, doth limp
So tediously away. The poor condemned English,
Like sacrifices, by their watchful fires
Sit patiently and inly ruminate
The morning's danger, and their gesture sad
Investing lank-lean; cheeks and war-worn coats
Presenteth them unto the gazing moon
So many horrid ghosts.
That is good, solid storytelling there. The use of multiple ways of expressing the opposition between the French and the English is especially effective, and the asymmetry sets up the later "little touch of Harry in the night" as it should.
Critics have been very hard on the Chorus in Henry V. They've questioned why it's even needed. I don't think that's all that difficult; the obvious point is that we are not just getting Henry himself, we are getting Henry becoming legend. The audience itself is a participant in what the play is about: it is our thoughts that deck the kings, our imaginary forces that make Henry a legend. The Chorus parts are also often accused of 'telling, not showing'. I'm on record as thinking that, while such a slogan as 'show, don't tell' can have legitimate meaning in particular circumstances, it is trash if taken as a general principle. In reality, however, the Chorus parts are 'showing' exactly what needs to be shown: that the tale cannot be crammed into the theatre, that its only suitable stage is the mind itself, that the players and scenery on the stage are only 'ciphers' that guide the real play, in the imagination. Storytelling is in its own way as much a dramatic art as playacting. And the fact of the matter is that the Chorus parts are all excellent storytelling. This interweaving of storytelling and stagecraft is entirely necessary to the play.