William Shakespeare is arguably the greatest writer in history. Here are some quotes that live in my memory:

  • What’s he that wishes so?
    My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin:
    If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
    To do our country loss; and if to live,
    The fewer men, the greater share of honour.
    God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.
    By Jove, I am not covetous for gold,
    Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost;
    It yearns me not if men my garments wear;
    Such outward things dwell not in my desires:
    But if it be a sin to covet honour,
    I am the most offending soul alive.
    No, faith, my coz, wish not a man from England:
    God’s peace! I would not lose so great an honour
    As one man more, methinks, would share from me
    For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more!
    Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
    That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
    Let him depart; his passport shall be made
    And crowns for convoy put into his purse:
    We would not die in that man’s company
    That fears his fellowship to die with us.
    This day is called the feast of Crispian:
    He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
    Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
    And rouse him at the name of Crispian.
    He that shall live this day, and see old age,
    Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
    And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian’
    Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
    And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’
    Old men forget: yet all shall be forgot,
    But he’ll remember with advantages
    What feats he did that day
    : then shall our names.
    Familiar in his mouth as household words
    Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter,
    Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester,
    Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.
    This story shall the good man teach his son;
    And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
    From this day to the ending of the world,
    But we in it shall be remember’d;
    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
    For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother
    ; be he ne’er so vile,
    This day shall gentle his condition:
    And gentlemen in England now a-bed
    Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
    And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
    That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
  • This above all: to thine own self be true,
    And it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man.
  • He was a man, take him for all in all,
     I shall not look upon his like again.
  • The friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
    Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel.
  • Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice.
  • The time is out of joint; O cursed spite,
    That ever I was born to set it right.
  • By indirections find directions out.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit.
  • Doubt thou the stars are fire,
    Doubt that the sun doth move,
    Doubt truth to be a liar,
    But never doubt I love.
  • Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.
  • What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god!
  • To be, or not to be: That is the question.
  • Get thee to a nunnery: why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?
  • Now see that noble and most sovereign reason,
    Like sweet bells jangled out of tune and harsh;
  • O! woe is me, To have seen what I have seen, see what I see!
  • Give me that man,
    That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him
    In my heart’s core, ay in my heart of heart,
    As I do thee.
  • I must be cruel, only to be kind.
  • How all occasions do inform against me,
    And spur my dull revenge!
  • Rightly to be great
    Is not to stir without great argument,
    But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
    When honour’s at the stake.
  • Lord! we know what we are, but know not what we may be.
  • When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
    But in batallions.
  • There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember: and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
  • If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all.
  • Lay her i’ the earth;
    And from her fair and unpolluted flesh may violets spring!
  • There’s a special providence in the fall of a sparrow.
  • Now cracks a noble heart.
    Good-night, sweet prince,
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!
  • I am constant as the northern star,
    Of whose true-fix’d and resting quality
    There is no fellow in the firmanent.
  • Nothing will come of nothing: speak again.
  • Lear: So young, and so untender?
    Cordelia: So young, my lord, and true.
  • I am a man,
    More sinned against than sinning.
  • If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
  • Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more.
  • He jests at scars, that never felt a wound.
  • Good-night, good-night! parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.
  • When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
    I all alone beweep my outcast state.
  • For thy sweet love remember’d such wealth brings,
    That then I scorn to change my state with kings.
  • Good name in man and woman, dear my lord,
    Is the immediate jewel of their souls;
    Who steals my purse steals trash; ’tis something, nothing;
    ’Twas mine, ’tis his, and has been slave to thousands;
    But he that filches from me my good name
    Robs me of that which not enriches him,
    And makes me poor indeed.

© Copyright 1998-2001 George Kirikos. All rights reserved.