On this most estimable of April 23rds, we celebrate the birth of William Shakespeare — a writer who could capture in a phrase every aspect of love, romance, and, of course, sex. We’ve all heard the love sonnets and soliloquies (“what light through yonder window breaks” and all that) a thousand times. So to spice up the bard’s birthday, we’ve assembled some of the sexiest (and often lewdest) quotes from his works. If naughty quotes be the food of love, read on!
I thank God I am not a woman, to be touched with so many giddy offences as He hath generally taxed their whole sex withal.
As You Like It (3.2.15)
Hamlet: Nay, but to live
In the rank sweat of an enseamed bed,
Stew’d in corruption, honeying and making love
Over the nasty sty,—
Th’ expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action, and till action, lust
Is perjur’d, murd’rous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust,
Enjoy’d no sooner but despisèd straight,
Past reason hunted, and no sooner had,
Past reason hated as a swallowed bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad. . . .
Sonnet 129, 1–8
Juliet: Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway’s eyes may wink and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk’d of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play’d for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Romeo & Juliet (3.2.1)
Romeo: Blind is his love and best befits the dark.
Mercutio: If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.
Now will he sit under a medlar tree,
And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit
As maids call medlars, when they laugh alone.
Romeo, that she were, O, that she were
An open et caetera, thou a poperin pear!
Romeo & Juliet (2.1.4)
Orlando: Then love me, Rosalind.
Rosalind: Yes, faith, will I, Fridays and Saturdays and all.
Orlando: And wilt thou have me?
Rosalind: Ay, and twenty such.
Orlando: What sayest thou?
Rosalind: Are you not good?
Orlando: I hope so.
Rosalind: Why then, can one desire too much of a good thing?
As You Like It, Act 4, scene 1, 115–124