Quotable quotes by Shakespeare

In honour of Mr Shakespeare’s 451st birthday, here is a selection of his best quotes.

Recently Sarah Galo, a writer with BuzzFeed, produced a list of the most quotable quotes from William Shakespeare (see full article here). What a brave lady she is – my favourite is not here and, possibly, neither is yours:

1. “We are such stuff as dreams are made of; and our little life is rounded out with sleep”. Prospero in The Tempest

2. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. Hamlet in Hamlet

3. “The wheel is come full circle: I am here.” Edmund in King Lear

Ad. Article continues below.

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players:

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts.” Jaques in As You Like It

4. “If music be the food of love, play on” Orsino in Twelfth Night

Ad. Article continues below.

5. “This above all: to thine ownself be true.

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.” Polonius in Hamlet

6. “They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol’n the scraps.” Moth in Love’s Labour’s Lost

7. “Yet, do thy worst old time: Despite thy wrong,

Ad. Article continues below.

My love shall in my verse ever live young”. Sonnet XIX

8. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

9. “Men at some time are masters of their fates:

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,

But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” Cassius in Julius Caesar

Ad. Article continues below.

10. “Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more: it is a tale

Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,

Signifying nothing.” Macbeth in Macbeth

11. “Live a little

Comfort a little

Cheer thyself a little.” Orlando in As You Like It

12. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” Malvolio in Twelfth Night

Ad. Article continues below.

13. “Come what come may, time and the hour runs through the roughest day.” Macbeth in Macbeth

14. “Have more than thou showest,

Speak less than thou knowest,

Lend less than thou owest,

Ride more than thou goest,

Learn more than thou trowest,

Set less than thou throwest.” The Fool in King Lear

15. “Self-love, my liege, is not so vile a sin, as self-neglecting.” Dauphin in Henry V

16. “Our doubts are traitors,

And make us lose the good we oft might win,

By fearing to attempt.” Lucio in Measure for Measure

17. “Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides:

Ad. Article continues below.

Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.” Cordelia in King Lear

18. “The more pity that fools may not speak wisely what wise men do foolishly.” Touchstone in As You Like It

19. “Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice.” Polonius in Hamlet


My favourites? As often as it is quoted I admit to loving Portia’s plea in The Merchant of Venice:

Ad. Article continues below.

“The quality of mercy is not strained.

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blessed:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.

‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest. It becomes

The thronèd monarch better than his crown.

His scepter 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 sceptered sway.

It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings.

It is an attribute to God himself.”


.. and


“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Ad. Article continues below.

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;

Ad. Article continues below.

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,

Ad. Article continues below.

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.


What does or Starts at 60 Community think – is there a quote, play or sonnet of Shakespeare’s that you particularly like? Please share your favourite.