The Quality of Mercy by William Shakespeare

from The Merchant of Venice
(Portia to Shylock)

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:
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.

William Shakespeare

Further reading: sparknotes.com

About russellboyle

Russell Boyle is a Melbourne based Australian poet. His poetry anthologies are titled The Beginning, Footprints and Loneliness. To order an anthology, please visit http://russellboyle.com/orders.html
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2 Responses to The Quality of Mercy by William Shakespeare

  1. cindy knoke says:

    Oh how wonderful! Never read this~

    • russellboyle says:

      The Merchant of Venice was my high school introduction to Shakespeare. Episode 12 in Series 6 of “Madmen” is titled “The Quality of Mercy”. It took me back to these wonderful words from Act 4, Scene 1. If you’ve not yet clicked on the “sparknotes” link, at the bottom of the post, then I recommend you take a look at their modern text equivalent of Portia’s classic lines.

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