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Shakespeare Quotations on Music

Let there be no noise made, my gentle friends;
Unless some dull and favourable hand
Will whisper music to my weary spirit.
(2 Henry IV, 4.5.1-3), Henry IV

Play, music! And you, brides and bridegrooms all,
With measure heap'd in joy, to the measures fall.
(As You Like It, 5.4.174), Duke Senior

Give me some music; music, moody food
Of us that trade in love.
(Antony and Cleopatra, 2.5.1-2)

Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of
me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know
my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my
mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to
the top of my compass: and there is much music,
excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot
you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am
easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what
instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
cannot play upon me.
(Hamlet, 3.2.356-65)

Orpheus with his lute made trees,
And the mountain tops that freeze,
Bow themselves, when he did sing:
To his music plants and flowers
Ever sprung; as sun and showers
There had made a lasting spring.

Every thing 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, 3.1.4-15)

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.
That strain again! it had a dying fall:
O! it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.
(Twelfth Night, 1.1.1-7)

Music oft hath such a charm
To make bad good, and good provoke to harm.
(Measure for Measure, 4.1.14)

Let music sound while he doth make his choice;
Then, if he lose, he makes a swan-like end,
Fading in music.
(The Merchant of Venice, 3.2.46), Portia

How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
Creep in our ears: soft stillness and the night
Become the touches of sweet harmony.
(The Merchant of Venice, 5.1.63-66)

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 dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music.
(The Merchant of Venice, 5.1.91-7)

Thou remember’st
Since once I sat upon a promontory,
And heard a mermaid on a dolphin’s back
Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath,
That the rude sea grew civil at her song,
And certain stars shot madly from their spheres
To hear the sea-maid’s music.
(A Midsummer Night's Dream, 2.1.153-9)

I have a reasonable good ear in music.
(A Midsummer Night's Dream, 4.1.28)

DON PEDRO: Come, Balthasar, we'll hear that song again.
BALTHASAR: O, good my lord, tax not so bad a voice
To slander music any more than once.
(Much Ado About Nothing, 2.3.37-9)

Mark how one string, sweet husband to another,
Strikes each in each by mutual ordering;
Resembling sire and child and happy mother,
Who, all in one, one pleasing note do sing.
Sonnet 8

What did thy song bode, lady?
Hark, canst thou hear me? I will play the swan,
And die in music:—
Willow, willow, willow.
(Othello, 5.2.292-5)

The music of the spheres!
(Pericles, 5.1.289), Pericles

Most heavenly music!
It nips me unto listening, and thick slumber
Hangs upon mine eyes.
(Pericles, 5.1.293-95), Pericles

Music do I hear?
Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men's lives.
And here have I the daintiness of ear
To cheque time broke in a disorder'd string;
But for the concord of my state and time
Had not an ear to hear my true time broke.
(Richard II, 5.5.42-9)

It is the lark that sings so out of tune,
Straining harsh discords and unpleasing sharps.
(Romeo and Juliet, 3.5.28-29), Juliet

It is 'music with her silver sound,'
because musicians have no gold for sounding:
'Then music with her silver sound
With speedy help doth lend redress.'
(Romeo and Juliet, 4.5.137-40), Peter

Preposterous ass, that never read so far
To know the cause why music was ordain'd!
Was it not to refresh the mind of man
After his studies or his usual pain?
(The Taming of the Shrew, 3.1.10-13), Lucentio

Where should this music be? i' the air or the earth?
It sounds no more: and sure, it waits upon
Some god o' the island. Sitting on a bank,
Weeping again the king my father's wreck,
This music crept by me upon the waters,
Allaying both their fury and my passion
With its sweet air: thence I have follow'd it,
Or it hath drawn me rather. But 'tis gone.
No, it begins again.
(The Tempest, 1.2.452-60)

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.
(The Tempest, 3.2.135-43)

He plays o' the viol-de-gamboys, and speaks three or
four languages word for word without book,
and hath all the good gifts of nature.
(Twelfth Night, 1.3.24)

Orpheus' lute was strung with poets' sinews,
Whose golden touch could soften steel and stones,
Make tigers tame and huge leviathans
Forsake unsounded deeps to dance on sands.
(The Two Gentlemen of Verona, 3.2.79-82)


On Ophelia's Songs in Hamlet

microsoft images "When Ophelia is conducted before the Queen, she seems at first not to recognize her, and gazing about in vacant stare, exclaims, "Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark." The presence of her lover's mother anchors her wandering mind, and, all heedless of Gertrude's words, she begins to sing of him in snatches of old ballads. They come flowing in music from the silent halls of memory, where they had entered when perhaps her old nurse sang her to sleep in days of childhood. The first is the story of a maiden who inquires of a traveller concerning her lost lover. He may be known by "cockle hat, and staff, and sandal shoon." These were the honored insignia of religious pilgrims, who, in the fulfilment of holy vows or from devotion, journeyed to sacred shrines across the seas and often to the Holy Land." Simon Augustine Blackmore. Read on...

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