Pedro Calderón de la Barca

Life Is a Dream

Life is a Dream is a philosophical allegory regarding the human situation and the mystery of life. Focusing on Segismundo, Prince of Poland, the central argument is the conflict between free will and fate. The play remains one of Calderón's best-known and most studied works.
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    Nor Nature's guiltless life alone—

    But that which lives on blood and rapine; nay,

    Charter'd with larger liberty to slay

    Their guiltless kind, the tyrants of the air

    Soar zenith-upward with their screaming prey,

    Making pure heaven drop blood upon the stage

    Of under earth, where lion, wolf, and bear,

    And they that on their treacherous velvet wear

    Figure and constellation like your own,

    With their still living slaughter bound away

    Over the barriers of the mountain cage,

    Against which one, blood-guiltless, and endued

    With aspiration and with aptitude

    Transcending other creatures, day by day

    Beats himself mad with unavailing rage!

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