Music Quotes from Shakespeare's Plays

The musician sings in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona."
The musician sings in "The Two Gentlemen of Verona.".

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The master playwright and poet William Shakespeare mentioned music many times in his works. He sometimes included song lyrics in his characters' dialogue, used music or musical instruments as symbolism, or as a metaphor. Let's take a look at some quotations referring to music from Shakespeare's greatest plays.

Music Quotes in Shakespeare Plays

  • "Give me some music; music, moody food
    Of us that trade in love." -Cleopatra from Anthony and Cleopatra (Act II, Scene 5)
  • "Do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, you cannot play upon me." -Hamlet from Hamlet (Act III, Scene 2)
  • "Who is it in the press that calls on me?
    I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
    Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear." -Caesar from Julius Caesar (Act I, Scene 2)
  • "It is my soul that calls upon my name.
    How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night,
    Like softest music to attending ears!" -Romeo from Romeo and Juliet (Act II, Scene 2)
  • "Why, he will look upon his boot and sing; mend the ruff and sing;
    ask questions and sing; pick his teeth and sing.
    I know a man that had this trick of melancholy sold a goodly manor for a song." -Clown from All's Well That Ends Well (Act III, Scene 2)
  • "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts" -Jaques from As You Like It (Act II, Scene 7)
  • "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." -Lorenzo from The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene 1)
  • "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." -Oberon from A Midsummer Night's Dream (Act II, Scene 1)
  • "I have known when there was no music with him
    but the drum and the fife; and now had he rather hear the tabor and the pipe." -Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing (Act II, Scene 3)
  • "But this rough magic
    I here abjure; and, when I have requir'd
    Some heavenly music—which even now I do,—
    To work mine end upon their senses that
    This airy charm is for, I'll break my staff,
    Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,
    And, deeper than did ever plummet sound, I'll drown my book." -Prospero from The Tempest (Act V, Scene 1)
  • "If music be the food of love, play on." -Orsino from Twelfth Night (Act I, Scene 1)
  • “Except I be by Silvia in the night,
    There is no music in the nightingale;
    Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
    There is no day for me to look upon.” -Valentine from Two Gentleman of Verona (Act III, Scene 1)