Thursday, January 15, 2015

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Have you ever read something that is misattributed and had it drive you a little crazy?

“When I saw you I fell in love and you smiled because you knew.” -- not Shakespeare

Maybe it's because I wrote a book about Einstein, but seeing things misattributed to A.E. is kind of like chalk on a blackboard for me. ("Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." -- not Einstein)

When we see stuff like that, my son and I like to refer to Abe Lincoln, who advises:


But back to (real) Shakespeare...


Love the quote, even though the character who is saying it is scary (Lady Macbeth). The drawing is by Today is Going to be Awesome's Lisa Congdon, who also drew this marvelous quote by Mary Oliver.

So today's poem is a speech by Portia in Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice. I'm including a video of it below.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
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 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;



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Irene at Live Your Poem is the Poetry Friday round-up host.

Addendum: Nigerian poet Damilola Michael Aderibigbe is editing an anthology of poetry and short prose responding to Baga and the atrocities committed by Boko Haram. Send 5 poems or 1 piece of short prose, in plain text, to Damilola Michael Aderibigbe at: dammyg1989ATliveDOTcom. Deadline: February 27, 2015

21 comments:

Irene Latham said...

I know, the mis-attribution thing is irksome! I'm using what I think is an Einstein quote in my work-in-progress... I will send it to you so you can verify. :) Thank you, Tabatha. Hope you have a great Poetry Friday. xo

Liz Steinglass said...

I've seen that quote attributed to Einstein many times. I love wise Lincoln's advice.

Diane Mayr said...

Ah, but what if Einstein had written it to someone in a letter and that letter is now lost. And the correspondent had passed along the quote and it got passed to someone else... Do we know for sure Einstein didn't write it? Until we can search EVERYTHING that was ever written, we can't say with any certainty that it isn't an Einstein quote. It may not have been an original Einstein idea, but, I'm sure not everything he thought was original. No matter who wrote it, it's a great quote and has something to teach us. And, we can speculate ad infinitum about who wrote it and miss the forest. :-)

LInda Baie said...

This is a recent lesson because I just had my students choose a quote to guide them for the rest of the year. There is a site called 'quote investigator', & even then we need to think critically about what "it" says. Thanks for sharing this Tabatha. We are awash in words on the internet...

Becky Shillington said...

HA! I love the Abe Lincoln "quote" Tabatha!! = ) Great selection from Shakespeare--no one says it like he does.

Tabatha said...

I have to respectfully disagree, Diane. Trying to attribute quotes correctly doesn't reflect on the sentiment of the quote. If we give up the idea that we should try to be accurate, we are being discourteous to ourselves and the people we are allegedly quoting.

jama said...

Yes, I hear you! Misquotes and misattributions drive me crazy too. Thanks for the little Shakespeare fix today :)!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

I confess I am not *always* the best when it comes to verifying a quote's accuracy, though I do happen to know that the Lincoln quote is correct since he and I share a birthday. ;) Thank you for sharing Shakespeare today. Always makes me smile to think back on my college days.

Donna Smith said...

Loved Abe's quote. He was such a forward-thinker.

Monica said...

This makes me want to start the year memorizing some Shakespeare.

Robyn Campbell said...

Ooo, what a terrific Shakespeare day at your blog. LOVE. Tabatha, THANK YOU for your advice on my poem. LOVED it. It's funny what a little punctuation can do for a poem. *waves*

Robyn Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robyn Campbell said...

I deleted a comment because I did two of them. ;-)

Diane Mayr said...

Tabatha, I'm not saying we shouldn't strive for accuracy. If one is uncertain, it's easy enough to say, "Unknown, previously attributed to [Name]."

JoAnn Early Macken said...

I read something on Facebook attributed to Maya Angelou that did not sound like her voice to me. I stopped to search for the quote but only found a list of others it had been attributed to--not the original person. Frustrating! I enjoyed the Shakespeare speech!

Ruth said...

I love that speech of Portia. I memorized it in high school and can still recite it. Thanks!

Keri said...

My husband always says we want justice for others and mercy for ourselves -- if only we could all do the acts of mercy. xoxo

Mary Lee said...

Thank you, Tabatha and Mr. Shakespeare, for the timely reminder.

Bridget Magee said...

Lincoln was ahead of his time, wasn't he? LOL! =)

Myra Garces Bacsal said...

How powerful to watch that video alongside the transcript of Portia's lines. I haven't read Merchant of Venice yet - we're thinking of doing a classics theme at one point, perhaps I'd get to it yet. Love Abe Lincoln! Such Foresight/Vision of Things to Come! :P

Author Amok said...

Abe Lincoln, time traveler.

Beautiful lines about the power of mercy, even though the play itself is troubling. Today, I'm thinking about how we can treat ourselves with mercy -- be a little bit more forgiving. As William Stafford said (at least I hope it was him), if he sat down to write a poem and it wasn't coming out so great, "I lower my standards."