Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war

Every now and then I stumble across bits of Shakespeare which make me catch my breath with their brilliance. Here’s Mark Antony, lamenting Caesar’s murder and predicting bloody civil war and turmoil:

O, pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers!
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy,—
Which, like dumb mouths, do ope their ruby lips,
To beg the voice and utterance of my tongue—
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use
And dreadful objects so familiar
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quarter’d with the hands of war;
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds:
And Caesar’s spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch’s voice
Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war;

Even though this speech was written four hundred years ago about events which took place two thousand years ago, it seems quite a prescient comment on the state of the world. We’re into the final few days of what’s been a particularly nasty,  divisive and partisan general election campaign (much like last year’s Brexit referendum, the 2015 general election and the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum now I come to think of it).  The horrifying terrorist attacks happening everywhere in the world – and increasingly closer to home – make you wonder where will it all end. Like Mark Antony, I can’t help thinking that one way or another, pretty soon the sh*t’s going to hit the fan.

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One thought on “Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war

  1. Well, thirteen years of mayhem, chaos and civil war followed Caesar’s assassination, so I’m not looking forward to the shit hitting the fan. But I’ve never felt as depressed and gloomy about the state of the country as I do at the moment. Not looking forward to my declining years here at all…

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