Passages from Poetry and Classic Speeches

    To be, or not to be: that is the question:
    Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
    And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
    No more; and by a sleep to say we end
    The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
    That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
    Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
    To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
    For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
    When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
    Must give us pause: there's the respect
    That makes calamity of so long life;
    For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
    The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
    The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
    The insolence of office and the spurns
    That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
    When he himself might his quietus make
    With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
    To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
    But that the dread of something after death,
    The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
    No traveller returns, puzzles the will
    And makes us rather bear those ills we have
    Than fly to others that we know not of?
    Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
    And thus the native hue of resolution
    Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
    And enterprises of great pith and moment
    With this regard their currents turn awry,
    And lose the name of action.

                        William Shakespeare,   Hamlet, III i.
                      Read by Michael Redgrave:  CD 2, Track 16

     She should have died hereafter;
    There would have been a time for such a word.
    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
    Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
    To the last syllable of recorded time,
    And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
    The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
    That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
    And then is heard no more: it is a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

                     William Shakespeare,  Macbeth, V v.
                Read by Paul Scofield:   CD 2, Track 30

   What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to
    begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilization. Upon it depends our own British life,
    and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very
    soon be turned on us.

    Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all
    Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail,
    then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink
    into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of
    perverted science.

    Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that if the British Empire and its
    Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, 'This was their finest hour.'
                     Winston Churchill:  Speech to the House of Commons, London, England, June 18, 1940

             History Channel Recording.     History Place Recording.
                  Full Text on The History Place Great Speeches Recording.
 
 

   We observe today not a victory of party, but a
    celebration of freedom -- symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning -- signifying renewal, as well as change.
    For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a
    century and three quarters ago.

    The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human
    poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought
    are still at issue around the globe -- the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the
    state, but from the hand of God.

    We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution.

    Let the word go forth from this time
    and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans, born in
    this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage and
    unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been
    committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet
    any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
                                             John F. Kennedy, January 20, 1961.  Inaugural Address.

   Full text and full length recording on The History Place.    Sound on the History Channel.

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I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream
deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be
self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be
able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression,
will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but
by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of
interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to
join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will
be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall
see it together.

                                           Martin Luther King,  Addresses the March on Washington, August 28, 1963.
                            History Channel Audio.    Full Text.