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William Shakespeare: Blessed is the peacemaker

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Coriolanus

CORIOLANUS
The honour’d gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among ’s!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!

****

VOLUMNIA
Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,
‘This we received;’ and each in either side
Give the all-hail to thee and cry ‘Be blest
For making up this peace!’ Thou know’st, great son,
The end of war’s uncertain…

****

[The sounds of peace]

SECOND MESSENGER
Good news, good news; the ladies have prevail’d,
The Volscians are dislodged, and Marcius gone:
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.

SICINIUS
Friend,
Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?

Second messenger
As certain as I know the sun is fire:
Where have you lurk’d, that you make doubt of it?
Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,
As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets; hautboys; drums beat; all together

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries and fifes,
Tabours and cymbals and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you!

 

 

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