If nothing else, every writer out there needs to read Shakespeare at least occasionally for the rich link he provides to the past of our language and English culture. Just as everyone who really wants to be a writer in the English language also needs to read the King James Bible.
So what are your favorite quotes from Shakespeare? I don’t mean the hackneyed “To be or not to be” stuff, although that’s fine enough. Are you familiar with his many other plays BESIDES what I think of as “the Big Three”? (Those would be “Hamlet,” “MacBeth,” and “Romeo and Juliet.” Breathes there an American past high school age who hasn’t at least heard of those three?)
Have you read Shakespeare’s Sonnets? No? Maybe?
Here are my two favorite Shakespearean quotes:
Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d tow’rs, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve,
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.” (From his play “The Tempest”)
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed,
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimmed:
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand’rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st,
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” (Sonnet Number 18)
Sure, I confess: The second one is probably the ONLY one of his sonnets that everyone who’s ever read English poetry has read. That doesn’t diminish it, does it? Here’s a “confession,” but keep it secret, just between us: I cannot read that sonnet without thinking of my wonderful, glorious wife of nearly 41 years. (And, yes, I do let her know that frequently. Pay attention to that, all you young husbands out there.)
What are your favorite quotes from Shakespeare? Leave a comment and tell us all, please.
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