Mercy in the Merchant

merchant-of-veniceI’m indebted to Wendy Morton for reminding me of this poem in Shakespeare’s, The Merchant of Venice.

As it stands–as reprinted a couple days ago in the Writer’s Almanac–it’s a fitting entry for Grow Mercy.

However, in the Merchant, Portia, whose words these are, is attempting to persuade the unscrupulous and vengeful Shylock to have mercy on the "noble" Christian Antonio, not recognizing the fundamental similarities between Shylock and Antonio.

Nevertheless, even in Portia’s ironic near-sightedness she speaks truth about the gentle excellence of mercy. And her poetic depiction about mercy is in need of rehearsing and growing.

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre 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 sceptred sway,
It is enthroned 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.

Technorati Tags: William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Peace, Violence

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