Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shakespeare passages for children to memorize

Shakespeare has so many great speeches for memorizing---and many are good even for children. My children especially wanted to learn the "To be or not to be" soliloquy, but all of these passages are good ones to have in your memory, or at least to recognize and be familiar with. Yes, they're all well-known, but I picked these specifically because they are just parts we all really liked. Some are funny, some are stirring, and some are sad, but all are so beautiful! I think having lines like these going around in your head is one of the most enjoyable things about reading Shakespeare! (And the shorter ones are just things the children love to quote whenever they get the opportunity. You'd be amazed how often that is. Even Junie's always spouting off "Alas, poor Yorick!" at the drop of a hat.) Sometimes I put the line numbers on these and sometimes I just didn't bother. They're all easily look-up-able, though.

And I linked this earlier, but don't forget to watch "A B, or not a B?" from Sesame Street. :)

From A Midsummer Night's Dream:

(Flute, as Thisbe, in the "play-within-a-play" section):
Asleep, my love?
What, dead, my dove?
O Pyramus, arise?
Speak, speak. Quite dumb?
Dead? Dead? A tomb
Must cover thy sweet eyes.
These lily lips,
This cherry nose,
These yellow cowslip cheeks,
Are gone, are gone!
Lovers, make moan
His eyes were green as leeks.

Jack shall have Jill,
Naught shall go ill,
The man shall have his mare again, and all shall be well.

I go, I go, look how I go!
Swifter than arrow from the Tartar's bow.

From Twelfth Night:

Act I Scene 1, lines 1-8
If music be the food of love, play on.
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting, 
The appetite may sicken and so die.
That strain again! It had a dying fall.
O, it came o'er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odor. Enough; no more.
’Tis not so sweet now as it was before,

Act II Scene 3, lines 48-53
What is love? 'Tis not hereafter.
Present mirth hath present laughter.
What's to come is still unsure.
In delay there lies no plenty,
Then come kiss me, sweet and twenty.
Youth's a stuff will not endure.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon 'em.

Do you think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?

From Sir Andrew's challenge to Cesario. I include this because the children think it is the funniest thing in the world. They LOVE this section of the play.
I will waylay thee going home, where if it be thy chance to kill me, thou killest me like a rogue and a villain.
Fare thee well, and may God have mercy upon one of our souls! He may have mercy upon mine, but my hope is better, and so look to thyself. 
Thy friend, as thou usest him, and thy sworn enemy, 
Sir Andrew Aguecheek.

From Macbeth:

Act V Scene 5, lines 18-28
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day.
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

Is this a dagger which I see before me?

Out, damn'd spot! Out, I say!

If it were done, when 'tis done
'twere well it were done quickly.

From As You Like It:

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,
His acts being seven ages.

From Hamlet:

Act II Scene 2
     I have of late, but wherefore I know now, lost all my mirth, forgone all my custom of exercises, and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestically roof, fretted with golden fire—why, it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors.
     What a piece of work is a man; how noble in reason; how infinite in faculties; in form and moving how express and admirable; in action how like an angel; in apprehension how like a god: the beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?

Horatio: my lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
Hamlet: I prithee, do not mock me, fellow student.
I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
Horatio: Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
Hamlet: Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
Did coldly furnish forth the marriage table.

O that this too, too solid flesh would melt,
Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!

That he is mad, 'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity
And pity 'tis 'tis true.

I am but mad north-northwest; when the wind is southerly I know a hawk from a handsaw.

How now! a rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!

Polonius: Though this be madness, there be method in't.
Will you walk out of the air, my lord?
Hamlet: Into my grave.
Polonius: Indeed, that is out of the air.

Polonius: My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.
Hamlet: You cannot, sir, take from me anything that I will more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life.

A hit, a very palpable hit.

(This is an especially great speech taken all the way to the end, but my children only learned this section of it):
To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause…

From Romeo and Juliet:

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Juliet:  O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo? 
Deny thy father, and refuse thy name; 
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, A
nd I’ll no longer be a Capulet. 
Romeo [Aside]:  Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this? 
Juliet: ’Tis but thy name that is my enemy; 
Thou art thyself though, not a Montague. 
What’s Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, 
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O! be some other name: 
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose 
By any other word would smell as sweet; 
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d, 
Retain that dear perfection which he owes 
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name; 
And for that name, which is no part of thee, 
Take all myself. 
Romeo: I take thee at thy word. 
Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptiz'd
Henceforth I never will be Romeo.

Sampson: Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: I do bite my thumb, sir.
Abraham: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
Sampson: [Aside] Is the law of our side, if I say ay?
Gregory: No.
Sampson: No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.
Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir?
Abraham: Quarrel sir! no, sir.
Sampson: If you do, sir, I am for you: I serve as good a man as you.

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