Quotes by William Shakespeare

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Born ca. 1564 and died ca. 1616 during the Renaissance period (1450-1599). One of the greatest writers of all time, Shakespeare, the peerless poet of the Sonnets and the creator of such dramatic masterpieces as Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and King Lear, is a playwright of paradigmatic originality. In his discussion of the Western literary canon, critic Harold Bloom declared: "Shakespeare and Dante are the center of the Canon because they excel all other Western writer in cognitive acuity, linguistic energy, and power of invention." However, one could go a step further and suggest that Shakespeare defines the Western canon because he transcends it. If Shakespeare, as Ben Jonson declared, "was not of an age, but for all time," the great dramatist, one could argue, spoke to the ultimate concerns of humankind, regardless of period or cultural tradition. more

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Alas, sir, In what have I offended you? What cause Hath my behavior given to your displeasure, That thus you should proceed to put me off And take your good grace from me? Heaven witness, I have been to you a true and humble wife, At all times to your will conformable, Ever in fear to kindle your dislike, Yea, subject to your countenance--glad or sorry As I saw it inclin'd.

I will instruct my sorrows to be proud, For grief is proud and makes his owner stoop. To me and to the state of my great grief Let kings assemble, for my grief's so great That no supporter but the huge firm earth Can hold it up.
Moderate lamentation is the right of the dead, excessive grief the enemy to the living.
Not a flower, not a flower sweet, On my black coffin let there be strown; Not a friend, not a friend greet My poor corpse, where my bones shall be thrown. A thousand thousand sighs to save, Lay me, O where Sad true lover never find my grave, To weep there!
I cannot choose but weep, to think they would lay him i' th' cold ground.
How many things by season season'd are To their right praise and true perfection!
A traveler! By my faith, you have great reason to be sad. I fear you have sold your own lands to see other men's. Then to have seen much and to have nothing is to have rich eyes and poor hands.
A good sherris-sack . . . ascends me into the brain, dries me there all the foolish and dull and crudy vapors which environ it, makes it apprehensive, quick, forgetive, full of nimble, fiery and delectable shapes, which, deliver'd o'er to the voice, the tongue, which is the birth, becomes excellent wit.
Good wine is a good familiar creature, if it be well us'd. Exclaim no more against it.
Please ye we may contrive this afternoon And quaff carouses to our mistress' health, And do as adversaries do in law, Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
Very good orators, when they are out, they will spit.
O, reason not the need! our basest beggars Are in the poorest thing superfluous. Allow not nature more than nature needs, Man's life is cheap as beast's.
. . . unbidden guests Are often welcomest when they are gone.
I can express no kinder sign of love Than this kind kiss.
Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
As a long-parted mother with her child Plays fondly with her tears and smiles in meeting, So, weeping, smiling, greet I thee, my earth, And do thee favors with my royal hands.
Th' appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony.
It gives me wonder great as my content To see you here before me. O my soul's joy! If after every tempest come such calms May the winds blow till they have waken'd death! . . . If I were now to die, 'Twere now to be most happy; for, I fear, My soul hath her content so absolute That not another comfort like to this Succeeds in unknown fate.
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.
The quality of mercy is not strained. It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.
'Tis not the many oaths that makes the truth, But the plain single vow that is vow'd true. What is not holy, that we swear not by, But take the High'st to witness.

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