Happy Birthday to Shakespeare!

Today is generally accepted as the day William Shakespeare was born in 1564. Also, it’s recorded as the day he died in 1616. One has to love the concision of the idea that he was born and died on the same day—well, if you’re a geek like me that is.

In tribute to him, here are some of my favorite lines from his plays, as well as my favorite sonnet EVER—the first I ever gave to my husband in a card (awww, isn’t that sweet??).

I hope these favorites of mine bring a smile to someone’s face today.

Sonnet 116

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no! it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come:
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

‘The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man
knows himself to be a fool.’
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

But O, how bitter a thing it is to look into happiness through another man’s eyes.

As You Like It

If you can look into the seeds of time,
And say which grain will grow and which will not,
Speak then to me.

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.


And seeing ignorance is the curse of God,
Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven

-Henry IV, Part 2

And ’tis a kind of good deed to say well:
And yet words are no deeds.

-Henry VIII

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.


O thou invisible
spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by,
let us call thee devil!

**This one is just plain ironic—wine is everything.

Our doubts are traitors
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.

-Measure for Measure

And finally…

Prospero’s—and some think Shakespeare’s—final farewell.

Now my charms are all o’erthrown,
And what strength I have’s mine own,
Which is most faint: now, ’tis true,
I must be here confined by you,
Or sent to Naples. Let me not,
Since I have my dukedom got
And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell
In this bare island by your spell;
But release me from my bands
With the help of your good hands:
Gentle breath of yours my sails
Must fill, or else my project fails,
Which was to please. Now I want
Spirits to enforce, art to enchant,
And my ending is despair,
Unless I be relieved by prayer,
Which pierces so that it assaults
Mercy itself and frees all faults.
As you from crimes would pardon’d be,
Let your indulgence set me free.

-The Tempest

3 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to Shakespeare!

  1. “Men at some time are masters of their fates.” -Cassius in Julius Caesar (Not necessarily my favorite line, but we had a great discussion on this in my class just now…) Loved your post!

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