William Shakespeare short quotes dictionary
William Shakespeare short quotes dictionary

All men who repeat a line from Shakespeare are William Shakespeare.
Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

I consider the genius, in any form, as an effort of nature to produce, among great sacrifices, a better human prototype, more successful, more worthy of life than usual.
Hermann Hesse

Books are Lighthouses erected in the sea of time. Prospero in Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
Alex St. Clair

Theoretically speaking a good reader should also be a good learner, whatever the century and the place!
Carl William Brown

He is of no age, nor any religion or party or profession. His works come out of the unfathomable depths of his mind.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air.
William Shakespeare

Profonda magia è sempre trar il contrario dopo aver trovato il punto de l’unione.
Giordano Bruno

E’ vero, è vero senza errore, è certo è verissimo: ciò che è in alto è come ciò che è in basso, e ciò che è in basso è come ciò che è in alto, per fare il miracolo della cosa unica.
Ermete Trismegisto


This great gap of time, my Antony is away.

Thy grief is but thy absence for a time.

I shall be loved when I am lacked.

Every wink of an eye some new grace will be born. Our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge.


Good sentences, and well pronounced. They would be better if well followed.

That we would do, We should do when we would.

Action is eloquence.

If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches, and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces.

We must not stint our necessary actions in the fear to cope malicious censurers.

Talkers are no good doers.

That we would do, we should do when we would.

If it were done, when ‘tis done, then ‘twere well it were done quickly.

From this moment, the very firstlings of my heart shall be the firstlings of my hand.

O, what men dare do! What men may do! What men daily do, not knowing what they do!

What you cannot as you would achieve, you must perforce accomplish as you may.

Things won are done; joy’s soul lies in the doing.

Acting and Actors

Condemn the fault, and not the actor of it? Why, every fault’s condemned ere it be done.

Like a dull actor nowI have forgot my part.

The eyes of men, after a well-graced actor leaves the stage, are idly bent on him that enters next, thinking his prattle to be tedious.

And most dear actors, eat no onions nor garlic, for we are to utter sweet breath.

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-capped towers, 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.


And one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.

These scroyles of Angiers flout you, kings, And stand securely on their battlements, As in a theatre, whence they gape and point At your industrious scenes and acts of death.


A wretched soul bruised with adversity, we bid be quiet when we hear it cry; but were we burdened with like weight of pain, as much, or more, we should ourselves complain.

Sweet are the uses of adversity, which like the toad, ugly and venomous, wears yet a precious jewel in his head.

Who would bear the whips and scorns of time, th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law’s delay, the insolence of office, and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes.

Let me embrace thee, sour adversity, for wise men say it is the wisest course.

Misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows.


Men can counsel and speak comfort to that grief which they themselves not feel; but tasting it, their counsel turns to passion.

No! I defy all counsel.

Be something scanter of your maiden presence.

Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none. Be able for thine enemy rather in power than use, and keep thy friend under thy own life’s key.

Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest.

Let not the creaking of shoes, nor the rustling of silks, betray thy poor heart to woman. Keep thy foot out of brothels, thy hand out of plackets, thy pen from lenders’ books, and defy the foul fiend.

Good counsellors lack no clients.


I praise God for you, sir: your reasons at dinner have been sharp and sententious; pleasant without scurrility, witty without affection, audacious without impudency, learned without opinion, and strange without heresy.


Man’s nature cannot carry the affliction nor the fear.


Age is unnecessary.

Crabbed age and youth cannot live together: youth is full of pleasance, age is full of care; youth like summer morn, age like winter weather; youth like summer brave, age like winter bare. Youth is full of sport, age’s breath is short; youth is nimble, age is lame; youth is hot and bold, age is weak and cold; youth is wild, and age is tame. Age, I do abhor thee; youth, I do adore thee: O, my love, my love is young!


Priests pray for enemies, but princes kill.


Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Slight air, and purging fire, the first my thought, the other my desire.


Nature teaches beasts to know their friend.


Thou art not for the fashion of these times, where none will sweat but for promotion.

No man’s pie is freed from his ambitious finger.

O foolish youth! Thou seek’st the greatness that will overwhelm thee.

Who does i’th’ wars more than his captain can, becomes his captain’s captain.

Fling away ambition, by that sin fell the angels.

Who doth ambition shun and loves to live i’th’ sun.

Vaulting ambition, which o’erleaps itself.

Lowliness is young ambition’s ladder whereto the climber-upward turns his face; but when he once attains the upmost round, he then unto the ladder turns his back, looks in the clouds, scorning the base degrees by which he did ascend.

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

Arm thy heart and fit thy thoughts to mount aloft.

As Caesar loved me, I weep for him; as he was fortunate, I rejoice at it; as he was valiant, I honour him; but, as he was ambitious, I slew him.


I do perceive here a divided duty.

Her tongue will not obey her heart, nor can her heart inform her tongue; the swan’s-down feather that stands upon the swell at the full of tide.


Your tale, sir, would cure deafness.


A winged messenger of heaven.

Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

We are all men, In our own natures frail, and capable Of our flesh; few are angels.

Angels are bright still, though the brightest fell.

Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

For fools rush in where angels fear to tread.


To be in anger is impiety; but who is man that is not angry?

I understand a fury in your words But not the words.

Come not within the measure of my wrath.

Rage must be withstood… Lions make leopards tame.

Come not between the dragon and his wrath!

Let grief Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.

Could I come near your beauty with my nails, I’d set my ten commandments in your face.


To hold opinion with Pythagoras, that souls of animals infuse themselves into the trunks of men.

Pray you no more of this, ‘tis like the howling of Irish wolves against the moon.

Honeybees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.

Hark, hark, the lark at heaven’s gate sings.

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn.

So work the honey-bees, creatures that by a rule in nature teach the act of order to a peopled kingdom.

A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

The lark, the herald of the morn.

The fox, who, never so tame, so cherished and locked up, will have a wild trick of his ancestors.

The poor beetle that we tread upon in corporal sufferance finds a pang as great as when a giant dies.

The old bees die, the young possess their hive.

I could endure anything before but a cat, and now he’s a cat to me.

The owl, night’s herald.

William Shakespeare short aphoristic dictionary
William Shakespeare short aphoristic dictionary


What did he when thou saw’st him? What said he? How looked he? Wherein went he? What makes he here? Did he ask for me? Where remains he? How parted he with thee? And when shalt thou see him again? Answer me in one word.


Thou art all ice. Thy kindness freezes.

Some men there are love not a gaping pig, some that are mad if they behold a cat, and others when the bagpipe sings I the nose cannot contain their urine.


Men are flesh and blood, and apprehensive!

O polished perturbation! Golden care! That keep’st the ports of slumber open wide to many a watchful night!

When day’s oppression is not eased by night, but day by night and night by day oppressed.

My mind is troubled, like a fountain stirred; and I myself see not the bottom of it.

So shaken as we are, so wan with care.

Care is no cure, but rather corrosive, for things that are not to be remedied.

Past cure I am, now reason is past care, and frantic mad with evermore unrest.

Where care lodges, sleep will never lie.


Give me some drink; and bid the apothecary bring the strong poison that I bought of him.

O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick.


What art thou that usurp’st this time of night?

I am thy father’s spirit, doomed for a certain term to walk the night, and for the day confined to fast in fires, till the foul crimes done in my days of nature are burnt and purged away.

Show his eyes, and grieve his heart; come like shadows, so depart.

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, the extravagant and erring spirit hies to his confine.


Ye have angels’ faces, but heaven knows your hearts.

Seems, madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems”.

Let’s write good angel on the devil’s horn.

Cucullus non facit monachum; that’s as much to say, as I wear not motley in my brain.

The world is still deceived with ornament.

I am not merry, but I do beguile the thing I am by seeming otherwise.

The devil hath power t’assume a pleasing shape.

All that glisters is not gold.

I will wear my heart upon my sleeve.

There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face. He was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust.


Tie up the libertine in a field of feasts, Keep his brain fuming; Epicurean cooks Sharpen with cloyless sauce his appetite.

Then everything include itself in power, power into will, will into appetite, and appetite, an universal wolf, so doubly seconded with will and power, must make perforce an universal prey, and last eat up himself.


Let never day nor night unhallowed pass, but still remember what the Lord hath done.


O, how this spring of love resembleth The uncertain glory of an April day, Which now shows all the beauty of the sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away.


The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.

In a false quarrel there is no true valor.

I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.

O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have books for good manners. I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheck Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct. All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If.

He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.


I have in equal balance justly weighed what wrongs our arms may do, what wrongs we suffer, and find our griefs heavier than our offences.


We few, we happy few, we band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother; be never so vile. This day shall gentle his condition. And gentlemen in England now abed 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.

‘Tis the soldier’s life to have their balmy slumbers waked with strife.

Arts and Artists

The object of art is to give life a shape.

Art made tongue-tied by authority.

What fine chisel Could ever yet cut breath?

O, had I but followed the arts!


These earthly godfathers of Heaven’s lights, that give a name to every fixed star, have no more profit of their shining nights than those that walk and know not what they are.


This is the excellent foppery of the world: that when we are sick in fortune — often the surfeits of our own behavior — we make guilty of our disasters the sun, the moon, and stars, as if we were villains on necessity, fools by heavenly compulsion, knaves, thieves, and treachers by spherical predominance, drunkards, liars, and adulterers by an enforced obedience of planetary influence. An admirable evasion of whoremaster man, to lay his goatish disposition on the charge of a star!


Thou hast seen a farmer’s dog bark at a beggar? And the creature run from the cur – there thou mightst behold the great image of authority – a dog’s obeyed in office.

The demi-god, Authority.


The teeming Autumn big with rich increase, bearing the wanton burden of the prime like widowed wombs after their lords decease.

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