Life is short and perilous — and not only for seafarers. The rich and the mighty may seem to live it up, but life is no less complicated for them. William Shakespeare undertood this truth all too well. His plays and sonnets provide a wide spectrum of thoughts about life as well as human nature. Other writers may have expressed similar ideas. The difference is that Shakespeare used language with such power and originality that we suddenly see reality with new eyes and start to understand.
O excellent! I love long life better than figs.
— Antony and Cleopatra, Act I, scene 2
I bear a charmed life.
— Macbeth, Act V, scene 8
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,
His acts being seven ages.
— As You Like It, Act 2, scene 7
When we are born, we cry, that we are come
To this great stage of fools.
— King Lear, Act IV, scene 6
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em. Thy Fates open their hands. Let thy blood and spirit embrace them.
— Twelfth Night, Act 2, scene 5
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, Act IV, scene 3
Life is a shuttle.
— Merry Wives of Windsor, Act V, scene 1
We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.
— The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1
To be, or not to be,—that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?
— Hamlet, Act III, scene 1
No longer mourn for me when I am dead
Than you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world with vilest worms to dwell:
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in your sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
O! if, I say, you look upon this verse,
When I perhaps compounded am with clay,
Do not so much as my poor name rehearse;
But let your love even with my life decay;
Lest the wise world should look into your moan,
And mock you with me after I am gone.
— Sonnet 71: No Longer Mourn For Me When I Am Dead
~ Barista Uno