Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Quality of Mercy

Photograph by James P. Blair
Woodland path winding through a grove of sequoia trees

The Quality of Mercy is a phrase taken from a speech by Portia in William Shakespeare's play The Merchant of Venice.  This beautiful piece on mercy was first performed in 1596 and published in 1600.

The speech begins:
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 throned 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 enthroned in the hearts of kings;
It is an attribute of God himself;
And earthly power doth then show like God's
When mercy seasons justice.

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