Happy Birthday, Will!

News Flash!


To mark Shakespeare’s 450th birthday, “the Royal Shakespeare Company is spearheading a three year Jubilee, between 2014 and 2016, that will involve theatre performances, events and live streaming cinema around the world.”

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Florida State College students: Of course they're discussing Shakespeare!
Florida State College students: Of course they’re discussing Shakespeare!

It’s April 23 in my college class of English Lit students. Each has brought in a can of Coke, Dr. Pepper or bottled water. I bring cupcakes—chocolate and vanilla for the party.

Reputedly, April 23, 1564 is the birthday of William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon. It is also the date of his death in 1616, but we are celebrating his life, especially the writing of his gushy love sonnets (“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”) and his play, King Lear, which we have just read with all that fussing about a father’s will, sister sniping, revenge and murder. The body count is always high in Shakespeare’s tragedies.

A fixture at every birthday party, Shakespeare wore a bow today.
A fixture at every birthday party, Shakespeare wears a bow today.

Until I was out of high school, I did not realize that my Mennonite Mom was referring to Shakespeare’s line “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another” (Hamlet) when she chided me for wearing makeup. “I’m happy with the face God gave me,” she would retort.

And Grandma Longenecker probably wasn’t aware she was quoting from Midsummer NIght’s Dream either when she tried to comfort me with the words of Lysander: “The course of true love never did run smooth” over my break-up with David, a boyfriend in college. And of various presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, or Kennedy, she would quote from Shakespeare’s Henry IV: “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” I can still hear her cracking the “C” in crown.

Other quotes you may know: 

  • Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.
  • If music be the food of love, play on.
  • Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.
  • No legacy is so rich as honesty.
  • What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.
  • O, had I but followed the arts!
  • ‘Tis better to bear the ills we have than fly to others that we know not of.
  • With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
  • This above all; to thine own self be true.

What special sayings do you remember from your childhood?


What quotes by Shakespeare can you add to the list?

I love it when you comment!

Please check it out: My writer friend, Traci Carver, teacher at Valwood School, a college prep high school in Valdosta, GA, posted on her blog a creative classroom scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet featuring foam pool noodles and Twitter hashtags. Creative and memorable!




25 thoughts on “Happy Birthday, Will!

  1. Happy Birthday to the Bard! Amazing that he was born and died on the same day. I love the quotes you state. And how apt they were in exchanges with mother and grandmother!
    *Hell is empty and all the devils are here
    *It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves
    *Listen to many, speak to a few
    *Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind
    Thank you for this Marian!
    Garden of Eden Blog


  2. And thank you for adding your choice morsels from the Bard, Susan. What amazes me is that he lived only 52 years and achieved so very much. That seems to be true of many artists and musicians: blooming early and dying young. It’s nice to hear from South Africa today.


    1. I once took a quiz that mixed Shakespearean quotes with those of the Bible. It was hard to tell the difference because the wisdom of both comes out often in spoken language every day. Here’s a provocative title: Shakespeare’s Quotes: Inspired by God.


  3. Happy Birthday Will and thanks for giving us over 400 years of enjoyment! My friends and I attend a Shakespeare production every summer at Bard on the Beach in Vancouver. We have never been disappointed. Great post!


  4. I have heard on NPR last evening that over the next year or two Hamlet will be performed in every country of the world. Here’s another good reason to celebrate. Lucky you: Friends who love the literary! Thanks for your comment and your tweet as well, SuperMegaWoman!


  5. Thanks for the link, Marian! My favorite Hamlet quote: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” But my favorite play is Othello. You watch the hero self-destruct in front of your eyes all out of a sense of misguided justice. How often do we cause our own downfall by trusting the wrong people?


    1. Traci, I see you are a Shakespeare aficionado too. But of course!

      As to your Hamlet quote, I think we have a great example of “madness in great ones” in the person of Putin right now. But he is certainly being watched.

      If you’ve read my reply above, you will notice that Hamlet is making a huge come-back these days world-wide. Thanks for posting today. I hope many of my readers will take a peek at your blog and recent posts, especially the one featuring Romeo and Juliet.


  6. Wonderful post, Marian. Love this Hamlet quote: “God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.” After so many years, he still amazes us, doesn’t he?

    Last summer we saw a Shakespeare play in the park, Henry IV, and very much enjoyed it.
    Nice visiting your blog.
    Silvia @


    1. Welcome, Silvia. You saw Henry IV. Well, then you heard: “What, in thy quips and thy quiddities?” Fun to say! I see you are a writer, so I will have to click on your blog. Do come back again!


    1. It’s wonderful to see you back in blog world again. We’ve missed you, but you are apparently safe and sound, ensconced in a new home.You amaze me at not only reading posts, but commenting and checking out the links. YOU inspire me too! I’ve always thought learning should be fun. You obviously agree.


      1. Marian – We did, indeed, arrive in Boise, Idaho safe and sound. However, I’m responding to you today from San Diego (Cardiff by the Sea), California where I’m at for a few days for my niece’s wedding. I’ll be Boise bound — again — on Monday.


  7. Thank you for inspiring me, Mariann. It’s late at night and I’ve spent the day with my sick brother. I’ll be thinking your quotes in my dreams:
    “We are such stuff
    As dreams are made on, and our little life
    Is rounded with a sleep.”
    Dream well…


    1. Elaine, you are always serving others, and your brother appreciates your gentle ministrations, I’m sure. I’m also glad the quote took you away from the duties of the sick bed if just temporarily. Thank you for taking the time to comment.


  8. Silvia’s post reminded me of Shakespeare in the park many years ago with some of my teacher friends. I still have a T-short with imprinted with the bust of Shakespeare and the words “Will Power.” I have worn it to the gym many times.


    1. Hi, Verna. I’m sure there are more English teachers sporting a Shakespeare tee shirt. My sweat shirt from the NCTE with a print of Shakespeare wearing a coal miner’s hat says “United Mind Workers.” Sometimes I see people squinting as they try to make sense of the photo and words. I like the pun of “Will Power” on your tee — authors with words really do wield power. It’s so nice to hear from you again, especially this particular week. Thanks for reading and commenting today.


  9. I’m so glad you told me about the tee-shirts, Marian on my post, Marian. They’re absolutely great! How am I missing your post announcements? Just now I clicked “following this blog” again, and it said I was. I don’t want to miss out on your posts!


    1. I am puzzled about this too. I have the same problem with other people’s posts including yours (chiefly WordPress authors). I am submitting this problem to WordPress.org for assistance from their forums or support team. Ever since I put an additional security measure on my blog (because of spam), I’m not receiving instant notification from blogs (like yours) I follow. Maddening! (To see yours today, I went into my WordPress dashboard and “manually” replied to posts for which I normally get email notifications.)

      If I get a solution from WordPress, I’ll certainly pass it on to you. I don’t want to miss any of your posts either!


  10. You probably know as much or even more than an American English professor. I wouldn’t doubt it — ha! Nice to see you here again and commenting on the World’s Greatest Writer, or so I’m told this week of his gala celebration.


    1. I probably wouldn’t necessarily know that – except that I’m an English teacher, par for the course–ha! Glad to add to your store of knowledge, Nikki. I’m over to check on your new post now.


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