William Shakespeare’s Dune, Act IV, Scene iii

The sands of the central erg

Enter CHANI, singing.

CHA: Tell me of thine eyes
And I will tell thee of thy heart
Tell me of thy feet
And I will tell thee of thy hands
Tell me of thy sleeping
And I will tell thee of thy waking
Tell me of thy desires
And I will tell thee of thy need

Enter PAUL

CHA: Beloved, night is not yet fully passed.

PAUL: Sihaya, thou art light enough for me
To rival both the moons, and rising, thou
Art dawn: how could I hide my eyes in sleep?

CHA: Thy desert spring you call me, but this day
I am thy goad: the Sayyadina who
Doth watch the rites that all may be obeyed.
Rest is strength: take all thou mayest find.

PAUL: The Sayyadina of the Watch doth not
The candidate instruct or caution, here.

CHA: Today I am the watcher and the woman

PAUL: You read to me that woman was a field
That I should go unto and till anon.

CHA: I am the mother of thy firstborn son.
Tell me of how the waters poured and rolled
Upon thy birthworld’s face again, Usul.

PAUL: I’d rather hear of you and of our son.
Doth Leto yet play with my mother’s heart?

CHA: With Alia’s as well, and he doth grow
Enormously. He’ll be a mighty man.

PAUL: And Alia. Do they accept her yet?

CHA: Discuss we this another time, my love.

PAUL: Let us discuss it now. I’d know the truth.

CHA: The women fear her, how she knows what no
Child ought to know, and do not understand
How she was changed within thy mother’s womb.

PAUL: Hath there been trouble in the sietch from this.

CHA: The women of the sietch did form a band
Demanding that thy mother exorcise
The demon in her daughter, but she sent
Them off ashamed, because she knew the writ
Of holy words so much the better than
They all could answer. And she tried to tell
Them how the change had worked in Alia’s mind.
But they keep yet their anger in their hearts.

PAUL: Because of Alia, the seeds of strife
Grow faster than the blades we sow of grass.

Thunder crashes

CHA: The thunder, voice that beautifies the world
Brings El Sayal, the rain of sand that falls
To herald morning. Stilgar comes to us
And I must stand apart to watch the rites
And be the Sayyadina, chronicler
Of all that comes to pass upon this morn.
But when the rite is done, return to me
And I shall make thy breakfast with these hands
That they which write thy life sustain it, too.


STIL: We turn our time around and walk abroad
O Usul, that you pass this final test
Of manhood. That you may the maker call
And ride him in the open light of day
That Shai-hulud may see you fear him not.

WAT (chanting): The world is carrion, and who can turn
Death’s Angel from his course, O Shai-hulud
What thou hast spoken, it shall come to pass.

STIL: They did deny to us the very Hajj.

PAUL: Who dares deny a Fremen right to walk
Or ride where’er his wand’ring spirit lists?

STIL: I am Naib: I am not ta’en alive.
I am a one of three: the death tripod
That doth destroy our enemies. Amen.
Where is the Lord, who led us through the land
Of deserts and of pits?

FREMEN:                   He is with us.

STIL: Shame not my teaching. Mark my counsel well:
We know thy bravery, seek not to awe
Us with thy courage. Here our lads of twelve,
Six years your junior ride the maker’s back.
So do the thing both quick and simple now:
But call the maker up and mount him true.
I did prepare this thumper: use it well.
And take these hooks, which never yet have failed.

PAUL: I thank you, Stilgar.

STIL:                                      Scalding day is come.
Go, Usul, ride the maker. Take the sand
And travel it as one who leads his men.

PAUL stands apart.

PAUL: And now I call the maker; he shall come
To still the thumper I do plant, and then
I plant the hooks along the froward side
Of his great segments mountainous that ring
His armored hide, that he may bear me up
When doth roll to keep the sand that grates
From entering his tender, inmost parts
As I have seen men do, but on this day
The time is blind. My inner eye is closed,
And this is naught that I have seen in life
Or in a vision. I unguided go.


A thumper sounds, followed by hissing sand.

STIL: What doth he, now? There’s drumsand to his left.

CHA: I see the worm from here! God spare his life!

STIL: Lo, he hath summoned Shai-hulud himself!
A desert monster, ancient as the dunes.

FREMEN: It surges up! Is Muad’Dib then no more?

STIL: Nay, look! He clingeth to the monster’s side!
He hath the maker taken on the sand
And rides as well as any Fremen born!

Enter PAUL upon the sandworm
(Good luck, Stage managers and set designers!!)
STILGAR, CHANI, and FREMEN mount the worm.

STIL: So thou hast passed the test, and pride thyself
On manly deeds, but I say this for true.
We’ve boys of twelve who’ve better done, and thou
Art fortunate to be astride this worm
And not beneath him had thy carcass crushed.
The drumsand to thy left cut off thy course,
And had he turned toward thee left no path
To ‘scape his wrath. Why chose you none of us
To lure him from you? You have much to learn.
And though you think me bad to say this now
I think but of the troop, for we cannot
Afford to lose thy courage or thy skill.

PAUL: I ask your pardon, and shall mend my fault.

STIL: ‘Tis spoken well! A rider of the sands
You may one day become, slow though you be.

FREMEN: Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib! Muad’Dib!

PAUL: Then I a sandrider am now become?

STIL: Hal yawm! Thou art a sandrider this day.

PAUL: Then I may choose our course.

STIL:                                                              It is the way.

PAUL: Then twenty thumpers south we ride this day
Unto the land we make for those who live
In centuries to come, that none must see
Until this world shall be remade anew.

STIL: A ten-day ride you set us on, Usul?
The men would raid Harkonnen sinks with thee
And those lie but a thumper from this place.

PAUL: The Fedaykin have raided them with me,
And shall again, till no Harkonnen breathes
The air of Arrakeen to salve their lungs.

STIL: Do you wish the leaders to assemble?

PAUL: You cannot guess my wishes or my deeds.

STIL: You are mudir of our sandride this day.
How will you use this power, Paul Muad’Dib?

PAUL: We shall go south, to see the palmaries.

STIL: And if I say we shall turn back to north
When this day’s sun is set? What, answer me!

PAUL: We shall go south, while I may bend us there.

STIL: I shall the messengers dispatch to bring
The leaders to assembly, that we may
Know who doth lead in sight of God and man.
But for the evening meal and prayer we camp
At Cave of Birds beneath Habbanya Ridge
If my decision suits Muad’Dib, of course.

PAUL: When we did consecrate the Fedaykin
I swore my loyalty to Stilgar, and
My death commandos know I spoke in faith
Does Stilgar doubt the honor of my pledge.

STIL: Usul, the companion of my sietch,
Him I would never doubt. Not with my life.
But you are Paul Muad’Dib, Atreides Duke
Lisan al-Gaib, Voice from the Outer World.
Of these men I know naught, that I should trust.

PAUL (aside): He thinks that I must call him out and cut
The mantle of his leadership away
In blood, for he can see no other way.

STIL: The one who led the tribe of Tabr Sietch
Before me was a friend. He owed me life
For life, and I to him did owe the same.

PAUL: I am and ever shall be Stilgar’s friend.

STIL: This no man doubts. It is the way of things.
But lo, an ornithopter on the wing!

PAUL: A scout perhaps. Could they have seen us ride?

STIL: A worm upon the surface they’ll have seen.
No more from distances the like of this.
Off! Scatter on the sand, and hide yourselves.

The FREMEN begin to slide off the worm and exit

STIL: It is a smuggler’s craft. They scout for spice.

PAUL: A wing and factory will wait for it.
And spice we have. Bait we a patch of sand
To teach the smugglers that this land is ours
And give our men the training they require
In weapons that are new to them as yet.

STIL: Now Usul speaks, and thinks as Fremen do.
Let this descend. He’ll sulk until the morn.
And we’ll be gone before this day is done.