William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare was an English playwright and poet.

Works of Shakespeare

Separate pages exist for quotations from all of the following works:

  • All's Well That Ends Well
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • As You Like It
  • The Comedy of Errors
  • Coriolanus
  • Cymbeline
  • Hamlet
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • Henry VI, Part 2
  • Henry VI, Part 3
  • Henry VIII
  • Julius Caesar
  • King John
  • King Lear
  • Love's Labour's Lost
  • Macbeth
  • Measure for Measure
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • The Merry Wives of Windsor
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Othello
  • Pericles, Prince of Tyre
  • Richard II
  • Richard III
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • The Sonnets
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • The Tempest
  • Timon of Athens
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen
  • Venus and Adonis
  • The Winter's Tale


  • Time's glory is to command contending kings,
    To unmask falsehood, and bring truth to light.
    • The Rape of Lucrece

  • On a day—alack the day!—
    Love, whose month is ever May,
    Spied a blossom passing fair
    Playing in the wanton air
    • Sonnets to Sundry Notes of Music, II
    • Not to be confused with The Sonnets; this poem is not a sonnet

  • Crabbed age and youth cannot live together:
    Youth is full of pleasure, age is full of care
    • The Passionate Pilgrim: A Madrigal
    • There is some doubt about the authorship.

  • I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture
    (Modern spelling: I give unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture.)
    • Shakespeare's will

  • Good frend for Jesus sake forbeare/To digg the dust encloased heare/Blese be the man that spares these stones/And curst be he that moves my bones
    (Modern spelling: Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, to dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.)
    • Shakespeare's epitaph


  • Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. The saying goes you live by the sword you shall die by the sword...It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.
    • This statement by an unknown author has also been wrongly attributed to Julius Caesar, as well as to Shakespeare's play on his assassination and aftermath, but there are no records of it prior to late 2000. It has been debunked at Snopes.com and About.com

Quotes about Shakespeare

Alphabetized by author

  • But Shakespear's Magick could not copy'd be,
    Within that Circle none durst walk but he.
    • John Dryden, The Tempest (1667), Prologue

  • Dante and Shakespeare divide the modern world between them; there is no third.
    • T. S. Eliot, "Dante" (1929), from Selected Essays (1932)

  • Nor sequent centuries could hit
    Orbit and sum of SHAKSPEARE's wit.
    • Ralph Waldo Emerson in "Solution", from May-Day and Other Pieces (1867)

  • The remarkable thing about Shakespeare is that he is really very good — in spite of all the people who say he is very good.
    • Robert Graves, in The Observer, "Sayings of the Week", (1964-12-06)

  • For there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.
    • Robert Greene, Groats-worth of Witte (1592)

  • He was not of an age, but for all time!
    • Ben Jonson, To the Memory of my Beloved, the Author, Mr. William Shakespeare (1623)

  • I never quite despair and I read Shakspeare — indeed I shall I think never read any other Book much [...] I am very near Agreeing with Hazlit that Shakspeare is enough for us.
    • John Keats, in a letter to Benjamin Robert Haydon (11 May 1817)

  • He has left nothing to say about nothing or any thing.
    • John Keats, in a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (22 November 1817)

  • At once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in Literature & which Shakespeare posessed so enormously — I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason.
    • John Keats, in a letter to George and Tom Keats ([21/27?] December 1817)

  • Shakespeare led a life of Allegory; his works are the comments on it.
    • John Keats, in a letter to George and Georgiana Keats (19 February 1819)

  • Shakespeare is not our poet, but the world's;
    Therefore on him no speech!
    • Walter Savage Landor, "To Robert Browning," published in The Morning Chronicle (1845-11-22); reprinted in The Works of Walter Savage Landor (1846), vol. II

  • When I read Shakespeare I am struck with wonder
    That such trivial people should muse and thunder
    In such lovely language.
    • D. H. Lawrence, "When I read Shakespeare," from Pansies (1929)

  • The verbal poetical texture of Shakespeare is the greatest the world has known, and is immensely superior to the structure of his plays as plays.
    • Vladimir Nabokov, quoted in interview with Alfred Appel, Jr. (September 1966), printed in Wisconsin Studies in Contemporary Literature 8 (1967); republished in Nabokov's Strong Opinions (1973)

  • Shakespeare — the nearest thing in incarnation to the eye of God.
    • Laurence Olivier, quoted in Kenneth Harris, "Sir Laurence Olivier," from Kenneth Harris Talking To... (1971)

  • Æschylus is above all things the poet of righteousness. "But in any wise, I say unto thee, revere thou the altar of righteousness": this is the crowning admonition of his doctrine, as its crowning prospect is the reconciliation or atonement of the principle of retribution with the principle of redemption, of the powers of the mystery of darkness with the coeternal forces of the spirit of wisdom, of the lord of inspiration and of light. The doctrine of Shakespeare, where it is not vaguer, is darker in its implication of injustice, in its acceptance of accident, than the impression of the doctrine of Æschylus. Fate, irreversible and inscrutable, is the only force of which we feel the impact, of which we trace the sign, in the upshot of Othello or King Lear. The last step into the darkness remained to be taken by "the most tragic" of all English poets. With Shakespeare — and assuredly not with Æschylus — righteousness itself seems subject and subordinate to the masterdom of fate: but fate itself, in the tragic world of Webster, seems merely the servant or the synonym of chance.
    • Algernon Charles Swinburne in The Age of Shakespeare (1908)
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