William Shakespeare Quotes
''Hermione. Pray you sit by us,William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Hermione and Mamillius, in The Winter's Tale, act 2, sc. 1, l. 22-6. Mother and child are talking; a "winter's tale" was the sort of fable or old wives' tale that would pass the time on a dark winter evening.
And tell's a tale.
Mamillius. Merry or sad shall't be?
Hermione. As merry as you will.
Mamillius. A sad tale's best for winter. I have one
Of sprites and goblins.''
''It is impossible you should see this,William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Iago, in Othello, act 3, sc. 3, l. 402-5. Goats were proverbially lecherous, and monkeys noted for lust, as were wolves in heat; "salt" means lustful; Iago protests that Othello cannot see Cassio and Desdemona in the act of lust.
Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys,
As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross
As ignorance made drunk.''
''This happy breed of men, this little world,William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. John of Gaunt, in Richard II, act 2, sc. 1, l. 45-9. The dying Gaunt's vision of England.
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.''
''O sleep! O gentle sleep!William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. King Henry, in Henry IV, Part 2, act 3, sc. 1, l. 5-8. The king, burdened with cares, cannot sleep.
Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,
That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids down,
And steep my senses in forgetfulness?''
''Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British poet. King Henry V (III, i). NAEL-1. The Unabridged William Shakespeare, William George Clark and William Aldis Wright, eds. (1989) Running Press.
Or close the wall up with our English dead!
In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility.
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger:
Stiffen the sinews, conjure up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favored rage.
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect:
Let it pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O'erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swilled with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath, and bend up every spirit
To his full height.''
''Wouldst thou have thatWilliam Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Lady Macbeth, in Macbeth, act 1, sc. 7, l. 41-5. Goading her husband, and alluding to the proverb, "the cat would eat fish but she will not wet her feet."
Which thou esteem'st the ornament of life,
And live a coward in thine own esteem,
Letting "I dare not" wait upon "I would,"
Like the poor cat i' th' adage?''
''And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life!William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Lear, in King Lear, act 5, sc. 3, l. 306-9. "Poor fool" affectionately refers to his daughter Cordelia, whose body he is looking at (but may recall the Fool, who has not been seen since act 3).
Why should a dog, a horse, a rat have life,
And thou no breath at all? Thou'lt come no more,
Never, never, never, never, never.''
''Macbeth. How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags?William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Macbeth and Witches, in Macbeth, act 4, sc. 1, l. 48-9.
What is't you do?
Witches. A deed without a name.''
''Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Marcellus, in Hamlet, act 1, sc. 1, l. 65-6. Telling of earlier appearances of the ghost of Hamlet's father, always exactly at midnight ("jump at this dead hour").
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.''
''You do draw my spirits from meWilliam Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Northumberland, in Henry IV, Part 2, act 2, sc. 3, l. 46-7. Hearing old mistakes lamented saps his courage.
With new lamenting ancient oversights.''
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All The World's A Stage
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in ...
Thus can my love excuse the slow offence
Of my dull bearer when from thee I speed:
From where thou art why should I haste me thence?
Till I return, of posting is no need.
O, what excuse will my poor beast then find,
When swift extremity can seem but slow?
Then should I spur, though mounted on the wind;
In winged speed no motion shall I know:
Then can no horse with my desire keep pace;