On the upcoming occasion of Shakespeare’s Anniversary of both his birth and death (April 23), I found these quotes from the writer who wrote the most musical language of any of them all.

Here they are, with contemporary punctuation and spelling.


“Orpheus with his lute made trees and the mountains that freeze bow themselves when he did sing. To his music plants and flowers ever sprung, as sun and showers, there (they) had made a lasting spring. Everything that heard him play, even the billows of the sea, hung their heads and then lay by. In sweet music is such art, killing care and grief of heart fall asleep or hearing die.” (Henry VIII, III, i)


Music often hath such a charm to make good and good provoke to harm.” (Merchant of Venice, IV, i)


“How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank! Here we will sit and let the sounds of music creep in our ears. Soft stillness and the night become the touches of sweet harmony.” (Merchant of Venice, V, i)


The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds, is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils. The motions of his spirit are as dull as night, and his affections as dark as Erebus. Let no such man be trusted.” (Merchant of Venice, V, i)


How sour sweet music is when time is broke and no proportion kept! So it is in the music of men’s lives.” (Richard II, V, v)


How silver-sweet lovers’ tongues by night, (are) like softest music to attending ears! (Romeo and Juliet, II, ii)