Purple Passages with the Bard of Avon

Spring cleaning!

I have thrown out (read that, recycled) piles of files during the past two weeks. One I kept, though, was a Shakespeare file.


I take my discovery of this file as an invitation to play teacher once more. Actually, another good reason is that tomorrow, April 23, is reputedly Shakespeare’ s birthday as well as his day of death (1564-1616), and he gets all the “Purple Passage” space for notable quotes today. But first a verse, and then a quiz. (Fret not, answers provided on next post, April 25)



Reputedly, Shakespeare invented words by changing verbs to adjectives, adding syllables or even coining new words. Here is a short list. Add vowels only!

1. b__mp

2. __m__z__m__nt

3. __nch__vy

4. __ss__ss__n__t__ __n

5. c__ __rtsh__p

6. dw__ndl__

7. f__pp__sh

8. h__ __dw__nk__d

9. l__ __pfr__g

10. z__ny                (Okay, so this was easy!)

Shakespeare’s plays contain so many memorable lines that many familiar with them may not know their origin. I am sure you have heard some of these, which need to be completed with one word:

Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be _____________.        Romeo and Juliet

The course of true love never did run_________.     A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The devil can cite Scripture for his _________.   A Midsummer Night’s Dream

The better part of valour is __________.          King Henry IV, Part I

Sweet are the uses of adversity:

Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous,

Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;

And this our life, exempt from public haunt,

Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in ________, and good in every thing.         As You Like It

Something is rotten in the state of _________.          Hamlet

There is nothing either good or bad, but __________ makes it so.       Hamlet

The play’s the thing / Wherein I’ll catch the _________ of the king.        Hamlet

When sorrows come, they come not single _________,  But in battalions.      Hamlet

O brave new _________, / That has such people in ‘t!      The Tempest

Want more Shakespeare? Last April I write about Shakespeare’s birthday in my classroom. Find the other link here.

Add some coined words I’ve missed, another Shakespearean quote, or even a thought about April and spring-cleaning. I love words. Share some of yours here!

Coming next: My Little Black Bookends Tell All


38 thoughts on “Purple Passages with the Bard of Avon

  1. What a fun Shakespeare post, Marian! I will have to go through it more and your links later when I have more time. A few weeks ago, my husband said he “felt so cultured” because we had recently seen “Macbeth” and “Hamlet.” We’re seeing “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” next month–same cast as the Hamlet production we saw.
    Happy Wednesday to you! And good luck with the “recycling!” 🙂


    1. April is often the month theatre groups unwrap Shakespeare for public view likely because it’s his birthday month. I’ve retired from teaching for several years now but have clung to my files I guess because I’ve put some much effort into creating them, representing as they do a type of selfhood. There is a saying on my dresser that goads me to continue though: “To save one must value, and to throw out one must value moving on.”

      You live close to good theatre. Enjoy it all!


      1. We have subscriptions to two different theatre companies in Philadelphia, and there are also others performing Shakespeare this season. It’s just a coincidence. There seem to be a few ancient Greek themed plays next year. Perhaps if there are other teachers who might like some of your material?


        1. Good question, Merril. I had taught English Lit for many, many years and had tons of folders. Before I retired, I had an open house in my office and invited my colleagues, most younger, to take any folders they wanted. I have a photo of one of my dearest friends sitting on the floor in front of my file cabinets sifting through material. What I had left was what I recycled.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. In Vancouver I attended Bard on the Beach with some very good friends every year for 20 years. I loved every production with the sea in the background it was magical. I can´t say which is my favourite. We use the Bard´s quotes everyday and don´t even realize it. Happy Birthday Mr. Shakespeare!!


    1. Darlene, nice to hear from your corner of the world. I would imagine the sea would be a topnotch background for production of The Tempest. “Bard on the Beach” has a nice ring to it.


  3. Marian — Oh how FUN! And while I didn’t get an “A” (not even close), I did fair — a pleasant surprise for a test taken while still in yoga clothes this morning.

    After a quick search on Bing this morning, here are a few little-known things about our friend William, with a link containing details for each line item: http://www.history.com/news/history-lists/10-things-you-didnt-know-about-william-shakespeare

    1. Shakespeare’s father held a lot of different jobs, and at one point got paid to drink beer.
    2. Shakespeare married an older woman who was three months pregnant at the time.
    3. Shakespeare’s parents were probably illiterate, and his children almost certainly were.
    4. Nobody knows what Shakespeare did between 1585 and 1592 — those years are unaccounted for.
    5. Shakespeare’s plays feature the first written instances of hundreds of familiar terms.
    6. WE probably don’t spell Shakespeare’s name correctly ‚ but, then again, neither did he.
    7. Shakespeare’s epitaph wards off would-be grave robbers with a curse.
    8. Shakespeare wore a gold hoop earring — or so we think.
    9. North America’s 200 million starlings have Shakespeare to thank for their existence.
    10. Some people think Shakespeare was a fraud.


    1. Those yoga poses really aerated your body and mind. Thanks for posting the trivia here, Laurie. About # 10, some of my students wanted to write research papers proving that Shakespeare didn’t really write the plays attributed to him. I usually tried to talk them out of it suggesting focusing on the meaning of his works instead.

      Nevertheless,that guy certainly knew how to Shake-A-Spear. There was usually a high body count at the end of his tragedies.


  4. Thanks for a very interesting and creative post, but since others have written about Shakespear and since it’s snowing here today, I’m going to write about my frustration with April. It just can’t let go of winter! Spring wants to come, but winter is hanging on. I’ve got flowers blooming and it’s snowing! 😦


    1. T. S. Eliot who once said, “April is the cruellest month” was probably looking at snow falling on flowers. April, it seems, can’t make up its mind about what to do weather-wise. My consolation to you: May – September!

      This is a good place to vent, Anita. Thanks for reading and commenting just now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What great fun a Shakespeare quiz…I have a date with it on Sunday afternoon , my nothing in particular day.
    Before we moved to the delightful country of Wales 7 months ago , we lived an hour from Stratford and would go to see productions regularly . One of the first we saw was ‘The Merry Wives Of Windsor ‘with Leslie Howard …it was brill. The language is beautiful , however, difficult to understand till you get to grips with it . A comedy is a really good way to start because you first see the animation first , then absorb the beautiful poetic language .
    Thank you Marian I shall now be hunting for my dusty books and remind myself of his genius


    1. I’m impressed, Cherry. Your connection to the bard is both geographical and literary. I like plays too because the body language and tone of voice fills in what the lofty language sometimes disguises. See you this weekend!


    1. Thanks for giving me the first smile of the day, Melodie. I believe I have read something Michelle has published before and I do follow her on Facebook. Now I’m off to check your link. A daughter to be proud of – in the genes of course.

      May pleasant thoughts attend your day and follow you into the merry, melodious month of May. (Not a fake wish!)


    1. I’m certain you could add a line or two to the quotes above. “Brought up on his words . . . !” Impressive – I’ll bet you had good teachers too from the land of Shakespeare.


  6. Looks like no one took the quiz bait, Marian. I got about half of them without looking them up. I think you must have been one fabulous professor. Lucky students and colleagues.

    I only ever taught Shakespeare once, when I taught high school English. My college teaching focused on American Lit.

    But, of course, all writers owe a debt to Shakespeare.

    Have you been to the new Globe Theater?


    1. You’re so funny, Shirley! Methinks some of my readers took the quiz in reverse, answers first – questions second. No, I haven’t been to the new Globe. It needs to go on my bucket list.

      Thanks for always keeping an eye out. 😉


  7. Two words I like: quotidian (a most uncommon word for ‘ordinary’), and schdenfreude (taking delight in another’s misfortune).

    Marian … I do love Shakespeare and Brit Lit (took two courses in college and loved it). But I found it very challenging to teach his “Sonnet 43” to 7th graders. We had far less trouble with “The Song of Wandering Aengus” by W. B. Yeats.


    1. I know you do love words and word play, Judy. Schadenfreude is of German origin, but I suspect you know that already.

      About “The Song of Wandering Aengus” Of course, 7th graders can make more sense of catching a silver trout in a stream and kissing than the abstraction of Sonnet 43.“The Song of Wandering Aengus.” 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Lovely post Marian thank you! I too am guilty of not taking the quiz .. 🙂 Loved all the comments too. I’m down at the sea right now as of yesterday, for a few days, looking out to sea from the balcony – and I’m reminded of Ariel in the Tempest:

    Full fathom five thy father lies
    Of his bones are coral made
    Those are pearls that were his eyes
    Nothing of him that doth fade
    But doth suffer a sea-change
    into something rich and strange

    Yes, I looked it up – and am extremely happy to honour him as you have Marian .. thank you.


    1. Susan, if anyone deserves a break staring out at the sea, it’s you. I admire all of your hard work on the A-Z dream sequence this past month. Now I’m wondering what you have chosen for the letter X.

      You are a literary lover, so not surprised you enjoy Shakespeare.


  9. I’m a Shakespere fan. A few years ago I was lucky enough to watch a performance of Hamlet at the Globe Theatre in London. There really is nothing like it. We stood near the stage and the actors rushed past us to take their places. We really felt as if we’d seen it performed as it would have been when Shakespere was alive.


    1. All I could think about when I read your lines was, Lucky you, lucky you. It’s not Shakespearean but it’s the truth. Thanks for checking in today!

      You’ve heard the expression, art imitates life. Well, the actors rushing past the audience would be a good example.


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