William Shakespeare’s Dune: Act I, Scene iv

Enter the LADY JESSICA and the REVEREND MOTHER.

REV: Well, Jessica, what hast thou then to say?

JES (aside): Poor Paul.

REV:                           I questioned thee! Now answer strait!

JES: What answer do you want?

REV:                                                   What answer? What?

JES: I had a son! It meant the world to him!

REV: Atreides daughters we commanded thee
To bear, and not to bow before a man’s
Small dreams of passing land through blood besmirched.
But such small dreams were not enough for thee,
Who in thy pride thought that thou mightest bear
The Kwisatz Haderach to purge thy sin!

JES: I sensed there was a possibility.

REV: The possibility was there to wed
Atreides’ daughter to Harkonnen’s son
And end these centuries of senseless feud.
Both bloodlines may we lose, spilled in Dune’s dust

JES: I vowed not to regret the course I chose.

REV: How comforting that thought shall surely be
When common soldiers hunt you through the stars
For mercenary gold, to take your lives.

JES: Is there no changing of this shadowed future?

REV: The inbred human race seeks to cast off
Stagnation, to bring down the ancient lines
That bind it. What to that great demiurge
Is profit? What the Emperor? What CHOAM?
Against it our tripartite government
The most unstable structure of them all
Stands quivering: The Landsraad strives against
The Emperor and all his Sardaukar.
Between them stands the Guild, whose fleet of ships
Discrowns the skies, or crowns them at a whim.
Our science prostrate lies before their greed.

JES: Floodborne chips are we before that dam
Which threatens now to break: My Duke. His son.

REV: Go to! You did not blindly enter this!
You knew what risks you took upon yourself.

JES: I am a Bene Gesserit. I serve.

REV: ‘Tis true; now we must save what blood we can.

JES: I’ll pay for all my hubris as I can.

REV: Thy son will pay with thee.

JES:                                                     I’ll shield him.

REV: The weakness there thou knowest all too well!
You’ll shield him from any destiny!

JES: Arrakis. Is’t so terrible, in truth?

REV: The tales are worse than truth, yet bad enough.
The Missionaria Protectiva sows
What moss it can to soften up the sand
That otherwise would flay. Now call the boy.
For I must leave.

JES:                             Good mother, must you go?

REV: I would that I could stand for thee an take
Upon my shoulders all the burden thou
Must bear. As my own daughter love I thee.
But duty calls, and none can walk thy path
But thou alone. Cruel kindness bids me say
There’s little chance thy seed’s our utmost goal:
The Kwisatz Haderach. Hope not o’ermuch.

JES: Thy presence blows the yesteryearly winds
About me. I am quite unwomaned
Thy firstmost lesson I recall: that men
Must never to an animal will submit.
So lonely have I been in this dark place.

REV: The lonely path all true men tread, in truth:
A straiter test it is than aught we know.
Now call the boy, for I must question him.

JES: Come in, my son.

PAUL:                                    Now, what’s the matter, Madam?

REV: I would thou wouldst unfold to me your dreams.
Dost thou dream every night?

PAUL:                                     Not dreams of import.

REV: How dost thou know of import?

PAUL:                                                                        How dost thou?

REV: What didst thou dream last night? Was it of import?

PAUL: Aye. I dreamed a cavern. And of water.
A girl with eyes of blue, eyes like an owl
Without a trace of white around the rim.
I speak to her and tell her of this morn.
Of how you came and marked me with a sign
Of oddity.

REV:               These dreams. Do they come true?

PAUL: Aye. And I will know this girl anon.

REV: Tell me of her.

PAUL:                        We shelter in the rocks
From heat and sand, though night has cast his cloak
Of waiting on the barren land, and throngs
Of people out of my mind’s eye do watch
For me to a thing I know not of.
She hides her fear behind her eyes and begs
A tale of me. A story of the past.
“Tell me of the waters of thy world,
Usul,” which planet I know not, But soft.
She may call me Usul. Is not that strange?
I sing to her a poem, but the words
Are closed to her: the surf, and beach and waves
Are things of alien fantasy unknown.

REV: As Proctor of the Bene Gesserit
I seek a man: the Kwisatz Haderach.
Thy mother sees him in thee, but she sees
With vision clouded by maternity.
I see a possibility, no more.
(pause)
Art silent then? There’s depth in thee, I’ll grant.

PAUL: May I withdraw? There’s much for me to do.

JES: Would you not hear the Reverend Mother’s rede?

PAUL: She said the men who chased that phantom died.

REV: Perhaps I’ve some small hints to why they failed?

PAUL: Hint then, madam.

REV:                                       And be damned to me?
Attend: That which would rule must first submit.

PAUL: That is a hint?

REV:                           There’s no semantics here,
The willow yields and bows before the wind
Until a wall of willows breaks the wind
With purpose manifest and terrible.

PAUL: The Kwisatz Haderach perhaps you say
I am, while saying nothing of my sire.
You speak as though already dead he lies.
‘Tis false!

REV:               What we could do, that have we done.
We may perhaps yet salvage thee, if God
Is good, but for thy sire, naught avails.
Learn that, if thou wouldst know the bitter truth.
(to Jessica)
You’ve trained him in our Way; I see the signs
And standing in thy place I’d do the same,
Be damned to any Rule that might object,
And add but this: He doth require the Voice
Make sure you train him well. Good-bye, young man,
But man in truth. I pray that thou shalt live.
But if thou dost not – we shall yet succeed.

Exeunt