William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

William Shakespeare Quotes

  • ''The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.
    The motions of his spirit are dull as night,
    And his affections dark as Erebus.
    Let no such man be trusted.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Lorenzo, in The Merchant of Venice, act 5, sc. 1. Responding to Jessica's remark, "I am never merry when I hear sweet music". "Spoils" means acts of plunder; Erebus was a place of darkness linked with Hades in classical mythology.
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  • ''If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
    It were done quickly. If th' assassination
    Could trammel up the consequence, and catch
    With his surcease success—that but this blow
    Might be the be-all and the end-all!—here,
    But here, upon this bank and shoal of time,
    We'd jump the life to come.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 1, sc. 7, l. 1-2. "If it were done when 'tis done" means if the deed were at an end, completely finished, at the moment it is done; Macbeth thinks that if he could avoid ("trammel up" means catch in a net) the consequences of murder with the death ("surcease") of Duncan, he would take a chance on the life to come (on earth, and in heaven or hell).
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  • ''I love a ballad in print alife, for then we are sure they are true.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Mopsa, in The Winter's Tale, act 4, sc. 4, l. 260-1. "Alife" means on my life, dearly; the peasant girl thinks anything in print must be true.
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  • ''I cannot choose but weep to think they would lay him i'th'
    cold ground.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Ophelia, in Hamlet, act 4, sc. 5, l. 69-70. Mad and grieving after her father's death.
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  • ''O, the world hath not a sweeter creature! She might lie by an emperor's side and command him tasks.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Othello, in Othello, act 4, sc. 1, l. 183-5. Praising Desdemona.
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  • ''Base is the slave that pays.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Pistol, in Henry V, act 2, sc. 1, l. 96. Refusing to pay a gaming debt.
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  • ''Ill-weaved ambition, how much art thou shrunk!
    When that this body did contain a spirit,
    A kingdom for it was too small a bound,
    But now two paces of the vilest earth
    Is room enough.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Prince Hal, in Henry IV, Part 1, act 5, sc. 4, l. 88-92. On the death of Hotspur.
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  • ''That bottled spider, that foul bunch-backed toad.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Queen, Elizabeth in Richard III, act 4, sc. 4, l. 81. Referring to Richard; spiders and toads were thought to be venomous.
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  • ''Eyes, look your last.
    Arms, take your last embrace, and lips, O you
    The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss
    A dateless bargain to engrossing death.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Romeo, in Romeo and Juliet, act 5, sc. 3, l. 112-5. Kissing Juliet before drinking the apothecary's poison; "engrossing" means either taking all or preparing the contract or "bargain."
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  • ''He's winding up the watch of his wit. By and by it will strike.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Sebastian, in The Tempest, act 2, sc. 1, l. 13-4 (1623). Referring to Gonzalo's attempts to cheer up Alonso.
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Best Poem of William Shakespeare

A Lover's Complaint

FROM off a hill whose concave womb reworded
A plaintful story from a sistering vale,
My spirits to attend this double voice accorded,
And down I laid to list the sad-tuned tale;
Ere long espied a fickle maid full pale,
Tearing of papers, breaking rings a-twain,
Storming her world with sorrow's wind and rain.

Upon her head a platted hive of straw,
Which fortified her visage from the sun,
Whereon the thought might think sometime it saw
The carcass of beauty spent and done:
Time had not scythed all ...

Read the full of A Lover's Complaint

Sonnet Ci

O truant Muse, what shall be thy amends
For thy neglect of truth in beauty dyed?
Both truth and beauty on my love depends;
So dost thou too, and therein dignified.
Make answer, Muse: wilt thou not haply say
'Truth needs no colour, with his colour fix'd;
Beauty no pencil, beauty's truth to lay;
But best is best, if never intermix'd?'
Because he needs no praise, wilt thou be dumb?

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