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Is this quote (or something similar) from one of Shakespeare's works? "Let he...

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kgincolorado | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 15, 2008 at 8:32 AM via web

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Is this quote (or something similar) from one of Shakespeare's works?

"Let he that hath steerage of my course, direct my sail."

I remember this one from my youth but can't seem to remember where it is from.

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 15, 2008 at 8:43 AM (Answer #1)

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It is. It is from "Romeo and Juliet."You'll find it in Act I, scene 4. In context, it looks like this: "I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen." Romeo says it, and it is a way of foreshadowing the dark end to which his love will come.

 

Sources:

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robertwilliam | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted August 16, 2008 at 6:20 AM (Answer #2)

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It's from Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 4 - the 'Queen Mab' scene, right at the end, before the scene changes to the Capulets' party.

Romeo brings an end to the 'Queen Mab' argument between him and Mercutio about dreams and how far they can foreshadow real-world events by ominously foreseeing 'some consequence yet hanging in the stars', some bad event, which he thinks will begin 'with this night's revels'.

But he finally concludes to let the person who can 'steer' his course direct his sail: whether he is encouraging Benvolio or another of the Montague boys to lead him to the party, or whether he is referring to a supernatural force 'steering' his 'course' is ambiguous.

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vcrowell | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 17, 2008 at 8:51 AM (Answer #3)

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This is a partial quote from lines spoken by Romeo in Act I Scene V of Romeo and Juliet.  Romeo, still enraptured by Juliet, has been listening half-heartedly to Mercutio's Queen Mab speech, which Mercutio himself dismisses as "vain fantasy."  Romeo responds by describing a feeling of foreboding which has overcome him, a foreshadowing of the tragedy which is about to unfold.  Romeo says, "Some consequences, yet hanging in the stars,/Shall bitterly begin his fearful date/With this night's revels; and expire the term/Of a despised life, clos'd in my breath/By some vile forfeit of untimely death:/But he, that hath the steerage of my course,/Direct my sail."  The "he", I believe, is God, but despite the reference to faith, Romeo feels his life is tangled in the threads of a perilous fate which he is powerless to avoid.   

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