Our “WRITING” Journey: Imitation Work Samples

Uninspired is what I am.  Fortunately,  my young writers are not.  Here’s how they wrote by paraphrasing two speeches (ceremonial and judicial) this week. The original models are in the side boxes while their imitation work follows. My 10th and 9th graders completed these to meet Classical Writing (Diogenes) assignments.

1st Model: Mark Antony’s Funeral Speech, Act III, Scene ii of Julius Caesar by Shakespeare

Young Writer #1 Imitation
Comrades, my brothers and fellow Romans, grant me your full attention.  The reason for my arrival is to bid our lifeless Caesar farewell, and not to pay him tribute.  While men die, their sins continue living; all that is righteous in a man is buried with him.  The same shall be done with Caesar.

The upright Brutus has proclaimed Caesar a man hungry for power.  This is a grave flaw indeed, and if it were so for Caesar, gravely has he paid for it!  It is under the permission of Brutus and the rest—each one an upright man—that I am here to deliver a speech before Caesar is buried.  A worthy and loyal companion he has been to me; but Brutus declares him power-hungry; and Brutus is an honourable man.

Our treasuries are filled because of the captives Caesar has delivered to us.  Does he seem hungry for power in his actions here?  When the people cry out in misery, Caesar sheds tears of grief.  Men who are power-hungry should be much more unyielding —yet according to Brutus is Caesar a glutton for supremacy, and Brutus is an honourable man.

You are all witnesses in seeing me offer the position of high sovereign to Caesar more than once!  And each of those times Caesar denied the title; is this the act of a power-hungry man?  But Brutus denounces him as power-hungry, and Brutus is an honourable man.  It is not to refute Brutus’s sayings that I am present, but to tell you what I do comprehend.  Once upon a time he was beloved to you for a reason.  Why then do you now refuse to lament his death?  Reason has now escaped to the wild creatures and judgment is lost to men.  Forgive me; a deep and wordless grief for my Caesar has pervaded my mind and soul, and you must be patient until my words come back to me.

Young Writer #2 Imitation
Citizens of Rome, friends, fellow men of this country, listen to me; I am here to put Caesar to rest, not to exalt him.  Is it not the evil of men that is remembered after their death, while their acts of goodness are buried with them?  Thus allow it to be with him whom we bury today.

Honorable Brutus names Caesar a man who hungered for power.  Is not such desire treacherous?  And if Brutus has spoken true, has not Caesar answered fully for his sin?  Thus, with permission of Brutus and all other honorable men, come I to speak in my friend’s funeral.  For Caesar was my friend, a faithful and just one!  But he is also a man named ambitious by Brutus.  And Brutus is a noble man.

Caesar won many captives for Rome, captives whose ransoms filled the pockets of the people.  And yet, he was ambitious!  Caesar wept when the poor of Rome cried.  And yet he was ambitious!  Can cold, cruel ambition be of the same great compassion Caesar held?  Yet Brutus calls him such.  And Brutus is a noble man.

On the Lupercal, it was I who presented him a crown three times, a crown which he did three times refuse.  Was this ambitious?  Yet Brutus names him ambitious.  And let it not be said that Brutus is not a noble man!  I speak not to prove false Brutus’s words, but I speak what I perceive.  I see before me men who rightly loved the Caesar once yet refuse to mourn for him now.  Reason has left you, my friends!  But forgive me.  Such grief has taken captive my voice and my eyes!  I tremble with such sorrow.  Allow me to pause and compose myself.

2nd Model:   Portia’s Speech, Act IV, Scene i , Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare
Young Writer #1 Imitation
Mercy is neither stressed nor awkward.  It comes as naturally as the tears of heaven above and is just as gentle as it falls down to earth.  It is a gift distributed to all, from the man who bestows it upon another to the man upon whom it it bestowed.  In the man of supreme power is mercy most potent; it befits the king better than his own title.  The firm and powerful staff of the king brings us down upon our knees in trembling fear, but mercy exceeds this supremacy by far.  It is ordained in a sovereign and is one of our God’s own qualities; when this forgiving compassion soars over justice on earth, it resembles that power of heaven’s own King.  You, Jew, do seek righteous dealing, but listen to my words: if we had lived in a world of justice alone, we would never enter the gates of St. Peter and see our majestic Creator.  We even ask God to bestow compassion upon us, and from this we can learn to bestow it upon others.   My plea has been given in the hopes that the harshness of your will might be reduced, for if you continue with the firm laws of this country, a man of Venice shall lose his life.
Young Writer #2 Imitation:
No one can drive the soft rain from the skies above; neither can one impel mercy, for it is like the rain.  It is as generous and as gentle.  Mercy is a blessing two-fold.  Blessed is he who bestows and he who receives.  It is easy to think mercy a thing of the good, humble poor, but it is greatest in the greatest.  The mercy in the heart of a king is better than the sceptre in his hand.  The monarch holds the power of justice, a power all men fear.  But mercy is greater than even that.  It is a characteristic of God himself.  And when justice makes way for mercy, that earthly power becomes as God’s.  You call for justice, merchant, but think of this: that in the courtroom of life, we all of us ask for mercy; we ask for it as we ask for our salvation.  And that is how we learn of mercy, the mercy that we so desperately need and ask for ourselves.  Remember that I speak only to soften the Severe Justice you call upon.  If you will only hear my words, this Venetian court must judge against the merchant standing there.
Quite inspiring to me…They’re now working on US President Roosevelt’s Dec 8, 1941 Speech after the bombing of Pearl Harbor…

One comment

  1. Winnie

    Reblogged this on living and learning and commented:

    Gearing up for more WRITING posts in the future hopefully.

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