William Shakespeare

(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616 / Warwickshire)

William Shakespeare Quotes

  • ''Plague of your policy!''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Earl of Surrey, in Henry VIII, act 3, sc. 2, l. 259. Wolsey contrived to have Surrey sent off to Ireland; "of" = on.
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  • ''Hang thyself in thine own heir-apparent garters!''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Falstaff, in Henry IV, Part 1, act 2, sc. 2, 43-4. A friendly insult to Prince Hal, heir to the throne.
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  • ''Thou wast a pretty fellow when thou hadst no need to care for her frowning; now thou art an O without a figure. I am better than thou art now; I am a fool, thou art nothing.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Fool, in King Lear, act 1, sc. 4, l. 191-4. To King Lear, who has given his lands to his daughters; an O is nothing without another figure in front of it.
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  • ''I'the commonwealth I would by contraries
    Execute all things; for no kind of traffic
    Would I admit; no name of magistrate;
    Letters should not be known; riches, poverty,
    And use of service, none; contract, succession,
    Bourn, bound of land, tilth, vineyard, none;
    No use of metal, corn, or wine, or oil;
    No occupation; all men idle, all,
    And women too, but innocent and pure.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Gonzalo, in The Tempest, act 2, sc. 1, l. 150-8. His utopian vision of a golden age with no rule and no boundaries ("Bourn, bound of land"); "traffic" means trade; "use of service" means employment of servants.
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  • ''Will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them
    be well used, for they are the abstracts and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Hamlet, in Hamlet, act 2, sc. 2, l. 522-5. Speaking to Polonius about the actors who have just arrived in Elsinore; "bestowed" means lodged.
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  • ''Before the time I did Lysander see,
    Seemed Athens as a paradise to me.
    O then, what graces in my love do dwell,
    That he hath turned a heaven unto a hell?''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Hermia, in A Midsummer Night's Dream, act 1, sc. 1, l. 204-7. Her "love" is Lysander, who has provoked the anger of her father and jealousy of Demetrius, and so made Athens hell for her.
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  • ''But men are men; the best sometimes forget.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Iago, in Othello, act 2, sc. 3, l. 241. "Men are but men" is proverbial.
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  • ''Jessica. I am never merry when I hear sweet music.
    Lorenzo. The reason is, your spirits are attentive.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Jessica and Lorenzo, in The Merchant of Venice, act 5, sc. 1, l. 69-70. "Spirits are attentive" means faculties are engaged.
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  • ''The man nearest my soul,
    Who like a brother toiled in my affairs,
    And laid his love and life under my foot.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. King Henry, in Henry IV, Part 2, act 3, sc. 1, l. 61-3. On Northumberland, once his friend, now his enemy.
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  • ''They love not poison that do poison need.''
    William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. King Henry, in Richard II, act 5, sc. 6, l. 38. Unhappy to learn that Richard II has been killed at his own suggestion.
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Best Poem of William Shakespeare

A Fairy Song

Over hill, over dale,
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire!
I do wander everywhere,
Swifter than the moon's sphere;
And I serve the Fairy Queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green;
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see;
Those be rubies, fairy favours;
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dewdrops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip's ear.

Read the full of A Fairy Song

Sonnet Lxxvii

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,
Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;
The vacant leaves thy mind's imprint will bear,
And of this book this learning mayst thou taste.
The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show
Of mouthed graves will give thee memory;
Thou by thy dial's shady stealth mayst know
Time's thievish progress to eternity.
Look, what thy memory can not contain

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