June 7, 2007

Three Shakespeare Quotes

Filed under: Literature — duncan @ 6:43 pm

Since I’m putting up quotes, I might as well mention these three, which I’ve always wanted to place side by side. I’m sure most Shakespeare readers have already spotted the development of this conceit – it gets longer, more intricate, and more beautiful over the years. It must have had quite a hold on Shakespeare’s imagination. He deploys it at moments of curious lull and expansion in otherwise frantic events; moments when the plays seem to step out of time – suspended, like the characters and the words, in the halfway house between waking and sleep.

“and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again.”
Romeo and Juliet. 1.4.85-8

“There’s one did laugh in’s sleep, and one cried ‘Murder!’
That they did wake each other. I stood and heard them.
But they did say their prayers and addressed them
Again to sleep.”
Macbeth. II.2.22-5

“and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.”
The Tempest. III.2.139-44

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