Quote Something.

Had an interesting thought today.  Was pondering a situation where I’ve met someone, they’ve heard about the Shakespeare Geek thing, and this person says, “Quote something.”

What’s the first quote that comes to mind?  No fair thinking about it, no fair with the followup questions like I’d normally do (“Oh, geez, something from the tragedies or would you prefer a comedy?”)

Reason I ask is that, when it occurred to me, the quote that came to mind was “If we shadows have offended think but this and all is mended that you have but slumbered here, whilst these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme no more yielding but a dream, gentles do not reprehend.  If you pardon, we will mend.”  That surprised me, because normally I don’t go for Midsummer like that.  If I’d been asked the question like this I think I would have said I’d pull out some Hamlet, Macbeth, or possibly Tempest.  But not Midsummer.

Whether that’s because I just watched Were the World Mine, I don’t know. That’s not how it first came to mind.

What about you? No fair thinking about it. Quote something first, then ask why that one.

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21 thoughts on “Quote Something.

  1. "But tis a common proof that lowliness is young ambition's ladder, whereto the climber-upward turns his face… But when he has attained the utmost round, he then unto the ladder turns his back, looks in the clouds: scorning the base degrees by which he did ascent. So Caesar may. Then lest he may, prevent."

  2. When people ask me where I'm from when I'm in my hometown, I usually immediately respond with "I am native here and to this manner born."

    Aside from that, I have used Sonnet 29, and "Did I ever love 'til now? Forswear it sight, for I ne'er saw true beauty until this night." as sucessful pickup lines.

  3. O here will I set up my everlasting rest and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh. Eyes, look your last, arms, take your last embrace and lips, o you the doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss a dateless bargain to engrossing death.

    Normally I'd do something from one of my usual audition monologues, but this is the most recent quote I heard from someone else and it's been stuck in my head since.

  4. When people meet me, they ask me if it's true that Shakespeare didn't really write the plays. I wish they said "Quote something."

    If they did, I'd probably just toss off "To be or not to be" to call attention to the vagueness of the request.

  5. Really Bill? I have to say, I'm kind of disappointed. Do you have the same reaction to the equally vague "What's your favorite play?" I used to get that one all the time, and would go on for several minutes about how one can't have a *favorite* Shakespeare play, there's too many that are just too good. Then I'd rattle off Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth, Tempest, Midsummer, etc…

    But then I realized, like the "Quote something" question, that it's better utilized as an opportunity to actually introduce this person to something they might not have already heard 1000x before, like To Be. Chances are good that the person asking the question thinks they know some Shakespeare, their to be's and their romeo romeo's. So why not broaden their horizons with a favored quote they've likely not heard before?

  6. Devouring Time, Blunt thou the lion's paws, and make the earth devour her own sweet brood; Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger's jaws, and burn the long-lived pheonix in her blood.

  7. Oh, when someone asks me fore my favorite play, I show them the tattoo on my back with shakespeare's head with the names of my four favorite plays wrapped around the image. They generally stop asking questions, because they are just not prepared for THAT.

  8. …we defie Augury; there's a special Providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now, 'tis not to come; if it bee not to come, it will bee now; if it be not now; yet it will come; the readinesse is all, since no man ha's aught of what he leaves. What is't to leave betimes?

    A different reading than most, if they know it, are used to, I know. I prefer it to the conflated one. When someone who's not into Shakespeare hears it, they usually care "Not a whit" about that 🙂

  9. That speech from Midsummer is actually what I quote most often. I went to a production where they moved it and was seriously going to intervene. 😉

    Other than that, sonnet 135:
    "Whoever hath her wish, thou hast thy 'Will,'
    And 'Will' to boot, and 'Will' in overplus…"

  10. One that always comes to mind is from MSND. In Act Two Oberon sees Helena and Demetrius approach and says, just as they come near him, "I am invisible."
    Hardly poetic or insightful, yet those three words say so much on so many levels. And they show Shakespeare's uncanny ability to combine aesthetics and practicality without either being compromised, one of the many signs of his genius.
    Of course, they show Oberon's magical powers. And depending on how they're spoken, we can see an Oberon who is curious, bemused and so in control of his supernatural abilities that he can wait until Helena has nearly come face-to-face with him before uttering them. Or he can speak them haughtily and ostentatiously, a godlike figure impressed with himself. Either way, or in some combination of the two, they give us an insight into Oberon.
    I like to think, too, that there is a pragmatic reason for the line's existence. Imagine a rehearsal at the Globe. "Oberon" is on stage as the two young people arrive. He asks Shakespeare, or whoever might have been directing, "Where shall I go while they argue?"
    "Behind one of the pillars," comes the answer.
    They play the scene, but it's obvious to all that having the Fairy-King peeking from behind a "tree" makes him a foolish figure, hardly in keeping with the power he displays later in the story. The show opens in another couple of days. How to solve the problem?
    Shakespeare, anxious to move on, maybe even frustrated with his whiny actor, calls from the pit, "Oh, just say that you're invisible!"
    And, in one swell foop, Oberon's majesty is assured and the comic possibilities of the scene are multiplied.
    But wait, as Ron Popeil says, there's more. Oberon the character suddenly disappears, but the line also reminds us that the actor does, too. We see through him as the character he plays comes to life. And we accept what he says: we are reminded of the unique role our imaginations play once we set foot inside a theater. The guy up there says he's invisible? Well, okay, he is! That is true magic, far greater than any Oberon has.
    And of course, just as we see through the actor to see Oberon, we also know that we can see through Oberon to see the actor. Oberon is invisible, simply a guise we all agree to be fooled
    And ironically, the line is also applicable to Will himself, who is maddeningly unseen and impossible to find, despite 37 plays and 154 sonnets.
    Sorry to go on like this (and I hope it makes sense), but the guy never ceases to amaze me.

  11. Know what you mean, Ed. "Say it" and "it is". We could use some more imagination and less scenic machination in the theatre today; like when Burbage played.
    A chair is a throne because the actor tells us it is. No other explanation necessary. Enjoyed what you wrote.

  12. Ok, Monica, that's gotta be the only time I've ever seen that particular combination of four. Is there a theme? Just how much of a Shakespeare geek *are* you? You got a blog I should be watching?

    Ed, love what you said. Know exactly what you're talking about. Alas I think that we have to get it first before we can appreciate it, so I don't think that Joe Random with little Shakespeare knowledge would dig it as much as we do.

  13. Well, it is a lifelong dedication. I started being obsessed in elementary school. And am now graduating with a BA in English (focusing on Ren. lit.) and going to a Grad program specializing in Shakespeare.

    but, I'm a rather infrequent blogger. ^_^

  14. When shall we three meet again; in thunder, lightning, or in rain?; When the hurly burly's done; when the battle's lost and won; That will be e're the set of sun; Where the place? Upon the heath!; There to meet with Macbeth; Fair is foul and foul is fair; hover through the fog and filthy air!

    First one to come to mind: Easy enough to explain, since my first Shakespeare role was Witch #2 in Macbeth (Good memories)! Not too mention that the rhyming couplets make it easily stuck in one's head.

  15. "The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. Our virtues would be proud, if our faults whipped them not; and our crimes would despair, if they were not cherished by our virtues." (All's Well that Ends Well)

    I can do several of the big show-stopper speeches from memory, but most people are happy with one pithy observation.

  16. Duane wrote…"Alas I think that we have to get it first before we can appreciate it, so I don't think that Joe Random with little Shakespeare knowledge would dig it as much as we do."

    Joe Random would get it if we involved him in it as a member of the audience more; taxed his imagination a little more and didn't so often pretend HE was "invisible".

  17. "Sit Jessica. Look how the floor of heaven/ Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold./ There's not the smallest orb that thou behold'st/ But in his motions like an angel sings,/ Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubins./Such harmony is in immortal souls/ But while this muddy vesture of decay/ Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."

    Not the first speech from Merchant people might think of, but among my favorites. The imagery is fantastic: the sublime music of the sphere sounding imperceptibly within human souls. I think it's also tantalizing hint at the overall theme of the play, for throughout Merchant we faintly hears the strains of heavenly harmony sounding through the din of persecution and revenge. I included these lines in my program essay to guide the audience to an uplifting, yet nuanced, verdict on the play's import.

  18. I usually use the one JM quoted, prefaced with, "as Shakespeare tells us: 'que sera, sera' ".

    I am also partial to: "If we do meet again, we’ll smile indeed.
    If not, ’tis true this parting was well made."

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