William Shakespeare Quotes
Hermione. Pray you sit by us, 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.
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.
It is impossible you should see this, Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys, As salt as wolves in pride, and fools as gross As ignorance made drunk.
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.
This happy breed of men, this little world, 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.
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.
O sleep! O gentle 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?
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.
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more, 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.
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.
Wouldst thou have that 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?
William 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."
And my poor fool is hanged! No, no, no life! 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.
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).
Macbeth. How now, you secret, black, and midnight hags? What is't you do? Witches. A deed without a name.
William Shakespeare (1564-1616), British dramatist, poet. Macbeth and Witches, in Macbeth, act 4, sc. 1, l. 48-9.
Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour, With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
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").
You do draw my spirits from me With new lamenting ancient oversights.
William 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.