The penalty for reckless crime is ruin when men breathe a spirit of pride above just measure, because their mansions teem with more abundance than is good for them. But let there be such wealth as brings no distress, enough to satisfy a sensible man. For riches do not protect the man who in wantonness has kicked the mighty altar of Justice into obscurity.
Perverse Temptation, the overmastering child of designing Destruction, drives men on; and every remedy is futile. His evil is not hidden; it shines forth, a baleful gleam. Like base metal beneath the touchstone’s rub, when tested he shows the blackness of his grain (for he is like a child who chases a winged bird) and upon his people he brings a taint against which there is no defence. No god listens to his prayers. The man associated with such deeds, him they destroy in his unrighteousness.” —Agamemnon by Aeschylus
To Christ Our Lord
I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird, – the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.
Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!
No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,
Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermilion.
Let Rome in Tiber melt, and the wide arch
Of the ranged empire fall! Here is my space.
Kingdoms are clay: our dungy earth alike
Feeds beast as man: the nobleness of life
Is to do thus; when such a mutual pair
And such a twain can do’t, in which I bind,
On pain of punishment, the world to weet
We stand up peerless.” —Antony and Cleopatra: Act I, Scene i by William Shakespeare
Like a dull actor now,
I have forgot my part and I am out,
Even to a full disgrace. Best of my flesh,
Forgive my tyranny; but do not say,
For that, ‘Forgive our Romans.’—O, a kiss
Long as my exile, sweet as my revenge;
Now, by the jealous queen of heaven, that kiss
I carried from thee, dear; and my true lip
Hath virgin’d it e’er since.—You gods! I prate,
And the most noble mother of the world
Leave unsaluted: sink, my knee, i’ the earth;
Of thy deep duty more impression show
Than that of common sons.
O, stand up bless’d!
Whilst, with no softer cushion than the flint,
I kneel before thee; and unproperly
Show duty, as mistaken all this while
Between the child and parent.
What is this?
Your knees to me? to your corrected son?
Then let the pebbles on the hungry beach
Fillip the stars; then let the mutinous winds
Strike the proud cedars ‘gainst the fiery sun,;
Murdering impossibility, to make
What cannot be, slight work.
He would not flatter Neptune for his trident,
Or Jove for’s power to thunder. His heart’s his mouth:
What his breast forges, that his tongue must vent;
And, being angry, does forget that ever
He heard the name of death.” —Coriolanus: Act III, scene i, 320–325 by William Shakespeare