William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act II, Scene viii



LETO: O would that I had never lived to see
The white dawn touch the day I’d counterfeit
A hateful deed. Nay, that’s no honest speech.
The deed is real, the mind alone is false.
My son, I do indeed a hateful thing.

PAUL: I know not what you mean: what hateful thing?

LETO: Harkonnen seeks to sow the seeds of doubt
And make me to distrust thy mother’s faith.
Her vows, her love, her plighted troth, they know
Naught but deception, and withal know not
That they might sooner sow the kelp that grows
Beneath the deepest seas of Caladan
Upon these barren dunes and reap a fortune.

PAUL: As well you might mistrust my loyalty.

LETO: But they must be in their deceit deceived
And think me such a fool to take their bait
Preferring damned certainty to truth
That we know not what traitor may lie hid
Within our ranks. Thus cozened, he who schemes
Of treason in our midst may careless grow
And show himself to eyes he thinks are blind.
I dare not let thy mother know I see!

PAUL: But sir, in this she’d be thy willing pawn.

LETO: As willing as a man could wish, in sooth
But her response must be no mummer’s play
Though play it to the hilt she could, O yea
From point to pommel, ne’er so long the blade.
But in this thing I dare not chance her skill,
And thus by hurting, spare her greater hurt.

PAUL: Why tell me then, when my fault could mar all?

LETO: In this they’ll watch thee not, and if the worst
Should come to pass you’ll be my voice to her
And tell her not the briefest shade of doubt
In her did cloud my mind. You’ll tell her this.

PAUL: Nothing can defeat…

LETO: Be silent, son.

PAUL: You have not slept, get thee to bed.

LETO: No sleep
Can ease a spirit weary of decay
That permeates Great Houses, so they style
Themselves while they degenerate. Indeed
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved worlds and heavens, but would t’were not so
That which we are, we are, made weak by naught
Of time or fate, but made so by ourselves.

PAUL: Our House is not degenerate or weak!

LETO: Is’t not? Then let me get to church
And make thy mother Duchess of my house.
Yet I’ll not do this thing lest some who hope
For blood alliance take their bloody hands
And daughters’ hands as well and elsewhere seek
Another House less Great with greater need
For wives as friends, and leave us to our fate.

PAUL: My mother hath explained the politics.

LETO: Bravura buys men’s loyalty, I thus
Do cultivate bravura like a shield
I may turn on and off as I have need.

PAUL: Thy governance is by the people loved

LETO: My propaganda makes me so, and doth
Right well the task I pay them for withal.
Arrakis hath potential yet unguessed
By th’Emperor, or else he’d never dared
To yield it us. Dost know we use the spice
Residuum to make a base for film
We’ll use to show the populace how well
We govern them, and buy their love for us?
How would they know how well we govern them
An’ they remained untaught by us, how well
Would they then House Atreides love?
Betimes I would I were a renegade
And led us to a world beyond our stars
A House anonymous as stellar dust
And yet a living house, however fallen.

PAUL: Speak not these words, but rest and wake renewed.

LETO: Arrakis hath another boon for us:
The spice that floats within the very air
Imparts a strange immunity to him
Who’d use chaumurky or chaumas to kill.
And as we must watch every liquid drop
That feeds our crops and keeps our thirst at bay
We’d see at once the poison that a foe
Might use to kill our people: nor can we
so kill them even if we so desired.
Arrakis makes us better than we are.
I must have ears to hear these thoughts. My voice
Would burst my throat for silence did I not.
On Caladan we ruled by sea and air
But here we dig our feet in desert sands
And hope to run before they sink, forever lost.
And if I do not run, then what’s for thee:
No renegade Atreides, but a prey
To Sardaukar, Harkonnen and the sands
Will be your only shield. But aye, to hold
This desert world might mean that worse than death
Befalls Atreides’ House. That green-and-black
Bedizened banner, lifted high in hope
Could come to be accursed an’ we must
Do all we can to hold this world of ours.
Now pow’r and fear, the knife and shield of state
Be thine, my son. For thee I’ll order on
More training in the outlaw way of war.
And now what keeps Thufir’s ecologist
I told him we would set out with the sun!