William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene v

Act II, Scene iv

The Landing Control Tower of Arrakeen.

Enter the DUKE LETO.

LETO: “Our Imperator Padishah Sublime
Hath charged me to possess his desert orb
And end the wars, that peace may ever reign.”
What legal nincompoopery is this
That I must drool as though upon a stage
To play a dotard king I were. What man
Is by such drivel taken in? The stones
Whose corpses make the sand that wreathes this world
Are deaf and dumb and fortunate in that
They must not hear such foolishness. What man
Believes I’m come for peace? Not Fremen of
Those sands, who cannot be such fools and live.
And not the Houses Minor who do miss
Harkonnen lords withdrawn for their largesse.
They have tried to kill my only son!
“Our Padishah Imperator Sublime!”
If only they could see in what contempt
He holds them: his contempt for me scarce less.
They have tried to kill my only son.
Ah, God! Could I but end this deadly dance
And make all men upon this blasted world
My brothers underneath His holy stars!
These holy stars, and circling one of them
Is Caladan. The longing for my home
Doth tear at me as though I heard her call
Across the gulfs of parsecs through the void.
But I shall never walk her shores again
Nor think this sealess beach without a surf
My home. But I must hide my bitterness
That Paul may have a home, and if I find
Arrakis to be hell that comes ‘ere death
For me, I must make in it that for him
Will be a home indeed. There must be something.
In the trackless sands the Fremen lie
In wait and maybe hold the key to life
For House Atreides, bound to this their world
If even they take not Harkonnen coin.
They have tried to kill my only son.


SOLDIER 1: There’s naught amiss with gravity, I’ll warrant:
It sticks the feet to ground as good as home!”

SOLDIER 2:  Such weight upon them! Ay, how many gees?

SOLDIER 3: Nine-tenths, thou sluggard! Hast thou seen this hole
And where’s the loot it’s legended to hide?

SOLDIER 1: Harkonnen took it with, they’d never leave
A copper nor a decagram of spice.

SOLDIER 2: A shower and a bed for me!

SOLDIER 3:                                                   A bath?
What barrack-lord art thou to call for bath
And bedding. Hast not heard? No showers here
But every knave shall scour his arse with sand!

SOLDIER 1: Hold now your tongues: the Duke!

LETO:                                                                         Good Gurney.

HALLECK:                                                                                        Lord.
This is the last of us, though I’d as lief
Been first, as holy writ doth teach we’ll be.

LETO: Fret not: we’ve yet Harkonnens here to stain
Thy blades, but come aside where we may speak.


LETO: How many men canst thou let Hawat have?

HALLECK: Three hundred of the best. But what’s amiss?

LETO: Naught if we move swiftly. We’ve a chance
To root Harkonnen out of every nook
And buy ourselves the peace that we require
To make our stand. But we’ve a greater prize:
The shuttle that hath brought thee and thy men
Shall meet a cargo ship that’s filled with spice
Which for its part will ride the Guild’s immense
Heighliner to the stars and then away.
But on this shuttle too, are set to go
Eight hundred men, good workers on the sands
Who’ve chosen, with the change of fief to leave
As is their legal right: The Judge of Change
Who overseeth all in name of peace
Imperial hath guaranteed their choice.
They have the skills we need, and more, their flight
Suggests they’re no part of Harkonnen schemes.
Before they leave, you must persuade some part
Of them to be Atreides, and enlist
Their fortunes to align with ours, my friend.

HALLECK: How strong persuasion doth my Lord require?

LETO: Their willing aid we need, and nothing more.
And nothing less: to those who qualify
Give power and authority and raise
Their pay to match their talents, by a fifth.

HALLECK: Harkonnens pay not much: these men are free
A fifth seems not enough to turn them back.

LETO: Then offer what you must to turn their hearts
But keep in mind the sand’s but golden here
And not the metal.

HALLECK:                Ay, “They shall come all
For violence, as the east wind they shall sup,
And gather all the captures of the sand.”


LETO: A moving quote: now get thy men to bed.
They’ll need the rest, for they must be dispersed
Tomorrow, armored squads to take the van.

HALLECK: Zounds! Such open warfare I had thought
The Judge of Change was here to circumvent.

LETO: In secret and beneath the open sky
We’ll spill Harkonnen blood aplenty yet.

HALLECK: “And the water which ye from the river draw
Shall turn to blood upon the dusty land.”

LETO: Good Gurney, do thy office, and return.

HALLECK: “Behold, as in the desert, I go forth
A wild ass to do my work.” Farewell!


LETO: Upon the border of this landing field
Inscription crudely carven thus doth read:
‘O you who know all that we suffer here,
Do not forget us in your prayers,” it reeks
Of sulfur in the mind, evoking words
That stood above a gate Dantean, crying
Punishment eternal to the damned.
And in this seventh circle, I the lord
Of burning sands must cool confidence
Project and show my men there’s naught to fear
While I the extirpation of my line
And blood do face without  a hint of fear.
They have tried to kill my only son!