Shakespeare on climate change

William Shakespeare Mark Rylance
5 June 2005

“Great Floods have flown from simple sources”

(All’s Well that Ends Well – 2, 1, 142)


“And with thy daring folly burn the world”

(Two Gentlemen of Verona – 3, 1, 155)


“Join our lights together / And overshine the earth as this the world”

(Henry VI part 3 – 2, 1, 38)


“Here’s a good world the while”

(Richard III – 3, 6, 10)


“Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,
Pale in her anger washes all the air,
That rheumatic diseases do abound;
And thorough this distemperature we see
The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts
Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,
And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown
An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds
Is, as in mock’ry, set. The spring, the summer,
The childing autumn, angry winter change
Their wonted livieries, and the mazed world
By their increase now knows not which is which;
And this same progeny of evils comes
From our debate, from our dissension.”

(Midsummer Night’s Dream – 2, 1)


“These late eclipses in the sun and moon portend no good to us. Through the wisdom of nature can reason it thus and thus, yet nature finds itself scourged by the sequent effects.”

(King Lear – 1, 2)

This article appears as part of openDemocracy‘s online debate on the politics of climate change. The debate was developed in partnership with the British Council as part of their ZeroCarbonCity initiative – a two year global campaign to raise awareness and stimulate debate around the challenges of climate change.

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