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Top Ten: Shakespeare On Love Quotations

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Our final blast of Shakespeare features, to tie in with his birthday this past Saturday (he turned 447 on 23 April), also takes inspiration from this Friday’s Royal Wedding. The subject, of course, is love – though we trust that Prince William and Kate Middleton’s romance will prove less star-crossed than that of Romeo and Juliet!

Choosing a selection of Shakespeare quotes is like picking grains of sand from a beach. Especially when the subject is love, on which the Bard was something of an authority. Here’s a selection of some of our favourites. Please add yours in the comments section below.

Ay, me!  For aught that I could never read,
Could never hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth.
(Lysander, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 1, Scene 1)

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes,
Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers' tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.
(Romeo, Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 1)

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
(Juliet, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 2)

If it prove so, then loving goes by haps:
Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.
(Hero, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, Scene 1)

But love is blind and lovers cannot see
The pretty follies that themselves commit;
For if they could, Cupid himself would blush
To see me thus transformed to a boy.
(Jessica, The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 6)

O, come, let us remove:
The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.
Bring us to this sight, and you shall say
I'll prove a busy actor in their play.
(Rosalind, As You Like It, Act 3, Scene 4)

Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul
But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
Chaos is come again.
(Othello, Othello, Act 3, Scene 3)

He eats nothing but doves, love, and that breeds hot blood, and hot blood begets hot thoughts, and hot thoughts beget hot deeds, and hot deeds is love.
(Paris, Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene 1)

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
(Duke Orsino, Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1)

What! a speaker is but a prater; a rhyme is but a ballad. A good leg will fall; a straight back will stoop; a black beard will turn white; a curled pate will grow bald; a fair face will wither; a full eye will wax hollow: but a good heart, Kate, is the sun and the moon; or, rather, the sun, and not the moon; for it shines bright and never changes, but keeps his course truly.
(King Henry V, Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2)


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