When it comes to the subject of love, England’s playwright and poet par excellence, William Shakespeare, has more to say than most. In his prolific writings, we can observe a vast number of observations, comments, and lamentations upon the subject, with an offering to suit every situation. So, to help you find the perfect quote for yours, here is a list of 40 of Shakespeare’s best love quotes, with a brief explanation of their meanings in modern terms.
#1 “I love you more than words can wield the matter, Dearer than eyesight, space and liberty.”
Explanation: Words are not enough to describe my love for you.
#2 “Love is like a child, That longs for everything it can come by.”
Explanation: Love overpowers everything else. [Confession: The real meaning of love and my definition of it]
#3 “The sight of lovers feedeth those in love.”
Explanation: Seeing others in love fuels the desire to feel loved, yourself.
#4 “What is light, if Sylvia be not seen? What is joy if Sylvia be not by?”
Explanation: Without a loved one, there is no joy in life.
#5 “Love is blind, and lovers cannot see, The pretty follies that themselves commit.”
Explanation: People act rather differently when they are in love.
#6 “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.”
Explanation: Falling in love when unexpected and unlooked for is the truest kind of love.
#7 “Cupid is a knavish lad, thus to make females mad.”
Explanation: Love makes people act foolishly.
#8 “Come what sorrow can, It cannot countervail the exchange of joy, That one short minute gives me in her sight.”
Explanation: All your life woes and miseries are forgotten in the presence of your loved one.
#9 “Doubt that the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move his aides, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love.”
Explanation: The love you feel is an empirical truth.
#10 “If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it that surfeiting the appetite may sicken and so die.”
Explanation: This quote expresses the hope that if you experience too much love, then maybe you will grow used to and tired of it, and it will bother you with its anguish no more.
#11 “Speak low if you speak love.”
Explanation: True love is spoken of quietly to the object of your attentions, not loudly and dramatically to the whole world.
#12 “The course of true love never did run smooth.”
Explanation: Love is never easy.
#13 “Love goes by haps; Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
Explanation: Once you are in love, it is inescapable.
#14 “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.”
Explanation: You love a person for who they are, not how they look.
#15 “Who ever loved that loved not at first sight?”
Explanation: Coming to love someone later on, after knowing them a while is not true love. Only love at first sight is the deeply legitimate kind. [Read: Are you in love? – 21 signs to decode that fuzzy feeling]
#16 “I would not wish any companion in the world but you.”
Explanation: People other than the one you love are no longer as important to you.
#17 “Her passions are made of nothing but the finest part of pure love.”
Explanation: There is a difference between physical passion and passion that comes from true love.
#18 “Love hath made thee a tame snake.”
Explanation: Love will humble and soften even the most hardened individual.
#19 “She loved me for the dangers I had passed, And I loved her that she did pity them.”
Explanation: Empathy is one the greatest signs of true love.
#20 “Oh, how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day, Which now shows all beauty of the Sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away.”
Explanation: Loving too much, too early can sometimes be a result of the passions rather than the heart, and disappears as swiftly as it began. [Read: 18 tips to fall in love slowly like you’re in a fairytale]
#21 “A heart to love, and in that heart, Courage, to make’s love known.”
Explanation: When you are in love, you cannot keep it hidden.
#22 “For where thou art, there is the world itself, And where thou art not, desolation.”
Explanation: In modern song terms, “I can’t live, if living is without you!”
#23 “You cannot call it love, for at your age the heyday in the blood is tame.”
Explanation: Being “in love” as opposed to “loving” occurs only in the shallow passion of youth.
#24 “She will die if you love her not, And she will die ere she might make her love known.”
Explanation: Whether you confess your love or keep to yourself, love can bring you pain.
#25 “Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.”
Explanation: Someone who loves you wants you for yourself, not for any advantage you might bring them.
#26 “Men’s vows are women’s traitors.”
Explanation: Men’s declarations of love are often not as true or heartfelt as women’s. [Read: 12 signs of true love in a relationship]
#27 “Alas, that love, so gentle in his view, Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof.”
Explanation: It’s easy to talk lyrically about love, but the path of true love is more often difficult and demanding.
#28 “Love will not be spurred to what it loathes.”
Explanation: You cannot fake love.
#29 “This bud of love by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.”
Explanation: A more lyrical explanation of “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”
#30 “To be wise and love, Exceeds man’s might.”
Explanation: Love and common sense often don’t go hand in hand.
#31 “What a pretty thing man is when he goes in his doublet and hose and leaves off his wit!”
Explanation: It’s amusing seeing someone completely change character in order to impress the object of their affections. [Read: 21 signs to decode a man’s body language to know if he likes you]
#32 “Is this the generation of love? Hot blood, hot thoughts, and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers. Is love a generation of vipers?”
Explanation: Love can lead people to make unusual and uncharacteristic decisions—sometimes for the worse.
#33 “Love is begun by time, And time qualifies the spark and fire of it.”
Explanation: You will only know if it is true love if your passions remain the same after a long period of time.
#34 “The stroke of death is as a lovers pinch, Which hurts and is desired.”
Explanation: Love is painful, and yet we desire it no less.
#35 “Lovers ever run before the clock.”
Explanation: Time flies when you are with someone you love, and the time you have is never enough.
#36 “I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip.”
Explanation: Love knows no bounds.
#37 “I know no ways to mince it in love, but directly to say ‘I love you.'”
Explanation: If you are in love, you have no choice but to admit it.
#38 “I’ll make my heaven in a lady’s lap.”
Explanation: Love is the true destination in the pursuit of happiness.
#39 “You have witchcraft in your lips.”
Explanation: A kiss from your loved one makes all else seem unimportant, as if a love spell has been cast upon you. [Read: 10 tips to make your kiss a lot more passionate and romantic]
#40 “I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.”
Explanation: True love will be shown in a man’s deeds, not in his words. [Read: 25 signs he clearly loves you by the way he behaves around you]
No matter what the situation, when it comes to love, Shakespeare has it covered. Whether it’s for the delivery or the deliberation, you’re sure to find something in the list of love quotes above for every occasion.
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