When the planets

In evil mixture to disorder wander,

What plagues and what portents, what mutiny,

What raging of the sea, shaking of earth,

Commotion in the winds, frights, changes, horrors,

Divert and crack, rend and deracinate

The unity and married calm of states

Quite from their fixure? O, when degree is shaked,

Which is the ladder of all high designs,

The enterprise is sick. How could communities,

Degrees in schools, and brotherhoods in cities,

Peaceful commerce from dividable shores,

The primogenity and due of birth,

Prerogative of age, crowns, scepters, laurels,

But by degree, stand in authentic place?

Take but degree away, untune that string,

And hark what discord follows. Each thing meets

In mere oppugnancy. The bounded waters

Should lift their bosoms higher than the shores

And make a sop of all this solid globe.


From Troilus and Cressida, by William Shakespeare

< Changing the Earth     |     Stories of change >

[ Contents page ]