Need Your Short, Awesome Lines

There’s a scene in Dead Poet’s Society (cover your ears bardfilm) where Robin Williams gives each student a card with a snippet of poetry on it while they’re standing in a line outside.  They’re supposed to shout the line, then kick a soccer ball.

Later this week I’m going to do some Shakespeare with seven year olds, and I was thinking about doing some material with them.  But since I won’t have nearly the time to explain significant scenes, I thought I could do more “lines from a hat” where any student who’s willing would draw a famous quote and have to stand up and deliver it to the class.

As such, I need variety.  I’m looking for lines that are short and simple enough that a 7yr old could read it, but have also got a little something behind them so they’ll sound cool when projected across the room.  You know, the kind of stuff that gives us all spine tingles when we hear it.

If I get enough material I’ll bring along the longer version of each quote (for context) and depending on how much they get into it we can do longer passages. So I’m focusing at first on something short and punchy that even the most shy student could still recite.

So far on my list I’ve got:

“O for a muse of fire that would ascend the greatest heaven of invention!”

“Two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Verona where we lay our scene.”

“When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning or in rain?”

“If we shadows have offended, think but this and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here.”

“Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears! I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.”

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more!”

“Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.”

I’m avoiding the easy “To be or not to be” both because it’s too cliche, but also because they won’t have the capacity to understand the deeper meaning behind it.

What else have you got for me?  We may not even get to do this project, but I feel like I missed an opportunity recently with my fourth graders and I want to have some sort of performance/recitation project in my back pocket (literally!) in case I can swing the crowd that way.

3 thoughts on “Need Your Short, Awesome Lines

  1. Here are several – I'm a high school teacher, so forgive me if any of these aren't elementary-appropriate.

    If music be the food of love, play on.

    Now is the winter of discontent
    Made glorious summer by this sun of York.

    Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!

    Double, double, toil and trouble,
    Fire burn and cauldron bubble.

    Is this a dagger I see before me?

    I am a man / More sinned against than sinning!

    Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage, blow!

    A plague o’ both your houses!

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

    What fools these mortals be!

    We few, we happy few, we band of brothers,
    For he today that sheds his blood with me
    Shall be my brother…

    O dainty duck!

    O brave new world / That has such people in it.

    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.

    If I be waspish, best beware my sting.

    Though she be little, she be fierce!

    The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, / But in ourselves.

    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophies.

    What a piece of work is a man!

  2. Here are a few. Hope they prove useful.
    "Neither a borrower nor a lender be; For loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry".
    "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't.".
    "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so".
    "A little more than kin, and less than kind". – (Act I, Scene II).
    "The play 's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king".
    "Brevity is the soul of wit".
    "Doubt that the sun doth move, doubt truth to be a liar, but never doubt I love".
    "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"
    "I like this place and willingly could waste my time in it"
    "The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool".
    "Good Night, Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow."
    "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet". –
    "O! she doth teach the torches to burn bright".
    "The better part of valour is discretion".
    "Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown".
    "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".
    "Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous".
    "Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once."
    "Yet do I fear thy nature; It is too full o' the milk of human kindness."
    "Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand?"
    "Out, out, brief candle! 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."
    "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!"
    "I am a man more sinned against than sinning".
    "Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest, lend less than thou owest". "The worst is not, So long as we can say, 'This is the worst.' " .
    "Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them".
    "The course of true love never did run smooth".

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