Love's Labour's Lost

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Love's Labour's Lost is an early comedy by William Shakespeare, written around 1595-6 and first performed in 1597. It follows the King of Navarre and his three companions as they attempt to swear off the company of women for three years of study and fasting. Their subsequent infatuation with the Princess of France and her ladies makes them forsworn.

Act I

  • Having sworn too hard-a-keeping oath,
    Study to break it and not break my troth.
    • Berowne, scene i

  • Light, seeking light, doth light of light beguile.
    • Berowne, scene i

  • Berowne: Study is like the heaven's glorious sun,
    That will not be deep-search'd with saucy looks;
    Small have continual plodders ever won,
    Save base authority from others' books.
    These earthly godfathers of heaven's lights
    That give a name to every fixèd star
    Have no more profit of their shining nights,
    Than those that walk and wot not what they are.
    Too much to know, is to know nought but fame;
    And every godfather can give a name.
    King of Navarre: How well he's read, to reason against reading!
    • Scene i

  • At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
    Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
    But like of each thing that in season grows.
    • Berowne, scene i

  • A man in all the world’s new fashion planted,
    That hath a mint of phrases in his brain.
    • King of Navarre, scene i

  • A high hope for a low heaven.
    • Longaville, scene i

  • About the sixth hour; when beasts most graze, birds best peck, and men sit down to that nourishment which is called supper.
    • Armado, scene i

  • That unletter'd small-knowing soul.
    • Armado, scene i

  • A child of our grandmother Eve, a female; or, for thy more sweet understanding, a woman.
    • Armado, scene i

  • Affliction may one day smile again; and till then, sit thee down, sorrow!
    • Costard, scene i

  • The world was very guilty of such a ballad some three ages since; but, I think, now ’tis not to be found.
    • Moth, scene ii

  • The rational hind Costard.
    • Armado, scene ii

  • Devise, wit; write, pen; for I am for whole volumes in folio.
    • Armado, scene ii

Act II

  • A man of sovereign parts he is esteem’d;
    Well fitted in arts, glorious in arms:
    Nothing becomes him ill, that he would well.
    • Maria, scene i

  • A merrier man,
    Within the limit of becoming mirth,
    I never spent an hour’s talk withal:
    His eye begets occasion for his wit;
    For every object that the one doth catch,
    The other turns to a mirth-moving jest;
    Which his fair tongue (conceit's expositor)
    Delivers in such apt and gracious words
    That aged ears play truant at his tales,
    And younger hearings are quite ravished;
    So sweet and voluble is his discourse.
    • Rosaline, scene i


  • By my penny of observation.
    • Moth, scene i

  • The boy hath sold him a bargain, a goose, that's flat; —
    Sir, your pennyworth is good, an your goose be fat. —
    To sell a bargain well is as cunning as fast and loose.
    • Costard, scene i

  • And I, forsooth, in love! I that have been love's whip;
    A very beadle to a humorous sigh.
    • Berowne, scene i

  • This senior-junior, giant-dwarf, Dan Cupid;
    Regent of love-rhymes, lord of folded arms,
    The anointed sovereign of sighs and groans,
    Liege of all loiterers and malcontents,
    Dread prince of plackets, king of cod-pieces,
    Sole imperator and great general
    Of trotting paritors. O my little heart!
    • Berowne, scene i

Act IV

  • A buck of the first head.
    • Nathaniel, scene ii

  • He hath never fed of the dainties that are bred in a book;
    He hath not eat paper, as it were; he hath not drunk ink.
    • Nathaniel, scene ii

  • Many can brook the weather, that love not the wind.
    • Nathaniel, scene ii

  • You two are book-men.
    • Dull, scene ii

  • Dictynna, goodman Dull.
    • Holofernes, scene ii

  • These are begot in the ventricle of memory, nourished in the womb of pia mater, and delivered upon the mellowing of occasion.
    • Holofernes, scene ii

  • On a day, alack the day!
    Love, whose month was ever May,
    Spied a blossom passing fair,
    Playing in the wanton air:
    Through the velvet leaves the wind
    All unseen, gan passage find;
    That the lover, sick to death,
    Wish'd himself the heaven's breath,
    'Air,' quoth he, 'thy cheeks may blow;
    Air, would I might triumph so!
    But, alas! my hand hath sworn
    Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn:
    Vow, alack! for youth unmeet:
    Youth, so apt to pluck a sweet.
    Do not call it sin in me
    That I am forsworn for thee
    Thou for whom Jove would swear
    Juno but an Ethiope were;
    Turning mortal for thy love.
    • Dumaine, scene iii

  • For where is any author in the world,
    Teaches such beauty as a woman’s eye?
    Learning is but an adjunct to ourself;
    And where we are, our learning likewise is.
    • Berowne, scene iii

  • It adds a precious seeing to the eye.
    • Berowne, scene iii

  • As sweet, and musical,
    As bright Apollo’s lute, strung with his hair;
    And when Love speaks, the voice of all the gods
    Makes heaven drowsy with the harmony.
    • Berowne, scene iii

  • From women’s eyes this doctrine I derive:
    They sparkle still the right Promethean fire;
    They are the books, the arts, the academes,
    That show, contain, and nourish all the world.
    • Berowne, scene iii

Act V

  • He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer than the staple of his argument.
    • Holofernes, scene i

  • Priscian, a little scratched; ’twill serve.
    • Holofernes, scene i

  • They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol'n the scraps.
    • Moth, scene i

  • In the posteriors of this day, which the rude multitude call the afternoon.
    • Armado, scene i

  • They say that they have measur'd many a mile,
    To tread a measure with you on this grass.
    • Boyet, scene ii

  • Henceforth my wooing mind shall be express'd
    In russet yeas, and honest kersey noes;
    And, to begin, wench — so God help me, la! —
    My love to thee is sound, sans crack or flaw.
    • Berowne, scene ii

  • Let me take you a button-hole lower.
    • Moth, scene ii

  • I have seen the day of wrong through the little hole of discretion.
    • Armado, scene ii

  • A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
    Of him that hears it, never in the tongue
    Of him that makes it.
    • Rosaline, scene ii

  • When daisies pied, and violets blue,
    And lady-smocks all silver-white,
    And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue,
    Do paint the meadows with delight,
    The cuckoo then, on every tree,
    Mocks married men, for thus sings he:
    Cuckoo, cuckoo — O word of fear,
    Unpleasing to a married ear!
    • Spring, scene ii

  • When icicles hang by the wall,
    And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
    And Tom bears logs into the hall,
    And milk comes frozen home in pail,
    When blood is nipp'd, and ways be foul,
    Then nightly sings the staring owl:
    To-whit, to-who – A merry note,
    While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
    • Winter, scene ii

  • The words of Mercury are harsh after the songs of Apollo.
    • Armado, scene ii

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