A friend recently commented on my list of favorite Shakespeare plays by asking what my favorite lines from Shakespeare might be. Wow, is that an impossible task?
It is even more like choosing a favorite child or grandchild than that list of favorite plays. But I gave it some thought, anyway. And came up with a top ten. I avoided those that seemed too commonly quoted, like “What’s in a name?” and “To be or not to be.” That would be too easy. And I made no effort to spread my list among as many plays as possible. I simply wrote down those that came to mind. And, since I already mentioned one of the bard’s all-time greatest hits in the illustration above, I’ll include it in my list along with eleven others, chosen not only because I more often quote them but also for their truth and beauty:
1. “Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none” (All’s Well That Ends Well Act 1, Scene 1).
2. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep” (The Tempest Act 4, Scene 1).
3. “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 1, Scene 1).
4. “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet Act 1, Scene 5)
5. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” (Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2).
6. “We know what we are, but know not what we may be” (Hamlet Act 4, Scene 5).
7. “Brevity is the soul of wit” (Hamlet Act 2, Scene 2).
8. “The course of true love never did run smooth” (A Midsummer Night’s Dream Act 1, Scene 1).
9. “Love comforteth like sunshine after rain” (Venus and Adonis).
10. “And earthly power doth then show likest God’s when mercy seasons justice” (The Merchant of Venice Act 4, Scene 1).
11. “Past and to come seem best; things present worst” (2 Henry IV Act 1, Scene 3).
12. “O Lord, who lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness” (2 Henry VI Act 1, Scene 1).
So there you have it. That’s my top twelve. What are you favorites?