This monologue came to mind the other day. I cannot get it out of my mind, so I decided to share it. The words are so beautiful.
In case you aren’t familiar with the scene, Portia has disguised herself as a lawyer, in order to advocate for her husband. She is speaking to Shylock, who is demanding a pound of flesh to repay his debt.
Of course, plays are meant to be heard, especially Shakespeare. I think Laura Carmichael does a lovely job.
Such good words to remember.
The quality of mercy is not strained
The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The thronèd monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway.
It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute to God Himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this:
That in the course of justice none of us
Should see salvation. We do pray for mercy,
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea,
Which, if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence ‘gainst the merchant there.
— Portia, in William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1.
Vincent van Gogh (Dutch, Post-Impressionism, 1853-1890)
Oil on artist’s board, mounted on cradled panel; 41 x 32.5 cm (16 1/8 x 12 13/16 in.). Art Institute Chicago
“What am I in the eyes of most people — a nonentity, an eccentric, or an unpleasant person — somebody who has no position in society and will never have; in short, the lowest of the low. All right, then — even if that were absolutely true, then I should one day like to show by my work what such an eccentric, such a nobody, has in his heart. That is my ambition, based less on resentment than on love in spite of everything, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me.”