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William Shakespeare, the great English bard, wrote his works about five centuries ago, but even today his words about so important for mankind emotions and relationships are strongly relevant.

This talented playwright in his works described the joy, love, hardships of human life; he skillfully weaved all sorts of feelings of people, creating eternal masterpieces that can be quoted over the years.

Reading Shakespeare’s oeuvres in the original gives a unique opportunity to deeply feel and understand the author, to enjoy his syllable and style of writing, to understand the whole essence of his immortal statements about the futility of our existence in “Macbeth”, the need to control our desires and dreams in “Caesar”, all think carefully before talking in “King Lear” and about how important is the integrity in “Hamlet”.

In Shakespeare’s works, every person can find wise words and inspiration for themselves – parents listen to his advice when raising children, romantics for centuries cite his words about love, as well as realists, treating them as a guide to life, as well as readers who need moral support and guidance through their lives.

Below are presented some of the most interesting quotes from Shakespeare’s poems that help to live and fight.


On Love

‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind’

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream – Act 1, Scene 1)

‘If music be the food of love, play on’

(Twelfth Night – Act 1, Scene 1)

‘Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs’

(Romeo & Juliet – Act 1, Scene 1)

‘Love is like a child, That longs for everything it can come by’

(The Two Gentlh3en of Verona – Act 3, Scene 1)

‘I would not wish any companion in the world but you’

(The Tempest – Act 3, Scene 1)

‘Mistress, you know yourself, down on your knees, And thank heaven, fasting, for a good man’s love’

(As You Like It – Act 3, Scene 5)


On Friendship

four friends watching the sunset together from a tall mountain

Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

‘Hamlet’ (1601) act 1, sc. 3, l. 58

I count myself in nothing else so happy as in a soul remembering my good Friends

‘Richard II’ (1595) act 2, sc. 3, l. 46

A friend should bear his friend’s infirmities.

‘Julius Caesar’ (1599) act 4, sc. 3, l. 85

Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare, To digg the dust encloased heare! Blest be the man that spares thes stones, And curst be he that moves my bones.


On marriage

Men are April when they woo, December when they wed: maids are May when they are maids, but the sky changes when they are wives.
(As You Like It 4.1.130-2)

Marriage is a matter of more worth
Than to be dealt in by attorneyship.
(1 Henry VI 5.5.50-1)

The fittest time to corrupt a man’s wife is when she’s fallen out with her husband.
(Coriolanus 4.3.30-2)

I will be master of what is mine own:
She is my goods, my chattels; she is my house,
My household stuff, my field, my barn,
My horse, my ox, my ass, my any thing.
(The Taming of the Shrew 3.2.228-31)


On Jealousy

How many fond fools serve mad jealousy?
The Comedy of Errors (2.1)

O, how hast thou with ‘jealousy infected
The sweetness of affiance!
Henry V (2.2)

Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ.
Othello (3.3)
As doubtful thoughts, and rash-embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green-eyed jealousy!
The Merchant of Venice (3.2)


On expectations

Oft expectation fails and most oft there

Where most it promises, and oft it hits

Where hope is coldest and despair most fits.

All’s Well That Ends Well


On integrity

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

“Plays of William Shakespeare”

 To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.

Hamlet’ (1601) act 1, sc. 3, l. 58

This above all; to thine own self be true.

‘Hamlet’ (1601) act 1, sc. 3, l. 58


On nature


One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.

‘Troilus And Cressida’ (1602) act 3, sc. 3, l. 171

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? Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hush’d with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber, Than in the perfum’d chambers of the great, Under the canopies of costly state, And lull’d with sound of sweetest melody?

‘Henry IV, Part 2’ (1597) act 3, sc. 1, l. 5

How sometimes nature will betray its folly, Its tenderness, and make itself a pastime To harder bosoms!

“The Plays of William Shakespeare”

On thinking before you speak

Have more than you show, speak less than you know.

Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.


On trust

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.

“Plays of William Shakespeare”

Don’t trust the person who has broken faith once.

There’s no trust, No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured, All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.


On money

Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.

1603-4 Iago to Othello. Othello, act 3, sc.3, l.176-8.

Neither a borrower nor a lender be, for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

‘Hamlet’ (1601) act 1, sc. 3, l. 58

For I can raise no money by vile means. By heaven, I had rather coin my heart, And drop my blood for drachmas

William Shakespeare (1864). “The Works of William Shakespeare”, p.781

Nothing comes amiss, so money comes withal.

‘The Taming Of The Shrew’ (1592) act 1, sc. 2, l. [82]


On Wisdom

All that glisters is not gold; Often have you heard that told: Many a man his life hath sold But my outside to behold: Gilded tombs do worms enfold.

William Shakespeare (2010). “The Merchant of Venice”, p.52, Palgrave Macmillan

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.

The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones.

1599 Antony. Julius Caesar, act 3, sc.2, l.74-86.


On mercy

Nothing emboldens sin so much as mercy.

‘Timon Of Athens’ act 3, sc. 5, l. 3

The quality of mercy is not strain’d, 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 mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown; His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthroned in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God’s When mercy seasons justice.

‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596-8) act 4, sc. 1, l. [182]


On death

The gloomy shade of death

King Henry VI, Part I

On pain of death, no person be so bold

(King Richard II))

The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes

(Julius Caesar)

‘Death is my son-in-law, death is my heir’

(Romeo & Juliet)


On patience

stacked pebble rocks at the beach

How poor are they that have not patience! What wound did ever heal but by degrees?

‘Othello’ (1602-4) act 2, sc. 3, l. [379]

No, I will be the pattern of all patience; I will say nothing.

‘King Lear’ (1605-6) act 3, sc. 2, l. [37]

Sufferance is the badge of all our tribe.

‘The Merchant of Venice’ (1596-8) act 1, sc. 3, l. [107]

On ambition

The very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.


As he was valiant, I honour him. But as he was ambitious, I slew him.

‘Julius Caesar’ (1599) act 3, sc. 2, l. [27]

Dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream. And I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.


Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars
That make ambition virtue! O, farewell!
Farewell the neighing steed and the shrill trump,
The spirit-stirring drum, th’ ear-piercing fife,
The royal banner, and all quality,
Pride, pomp, and circumstance of glorious war!

‘Othello’ (1602-4) act 3, sc. 3, l. 346

On the futility of life

And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe.
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.

As You Like It (c.1599-1600), Act II, scene 7, line 25.


And so, from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe.
And then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot;
And thereby hangs a tale.

As You Like It (c.1599-1600), Act II, scene 7, line 25.


And a man’s life’s no more than to say “One.”

Hamlet (1600–01), Act V, scene 2, line 74.


I cannot tell what you and other men
Think of this life; but, for my single self,
I had as lief not be as live to be
In awe of such a thing as I myself.

Julius Cæsar (1599), Act I, scene 2, line 93.


On grief

Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once

‘Julius Caesar’ (1599) act 2, sc. 2, l. 30

Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak knits up the o-er wrought heart and bids it break.

Tell them, that, to ease them of their griefs, Their fear of hostile strokes, their aches, losses, Their pangs of love, with other incident throes That nature’s fragile vessel doth sustain In life’s uncertain voyage, I will some kindness do them.

‘Timon Of Athens’ act 5, sc. 1, l. [203]


Posted by Katherine Reed

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