Robert Greene (dramatist)

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Robert Greene

Robert Greene (probably baptised July 11, 1558, died September 3, 1592) was an English poet, dramatist, romance-writer and pamphleteer.



Verse quotations are cited from Alexander Dyce (ed.) The Dramatic and Poetical Works of Robert Greene and George Peele (London: Routledge, 1861).

  • Ah Franion, treason is loved of many, but the Traitor hated of all: unjust offences may for a time escape without danger, but never without revenge.
    • Pandosto (1588); p. 9.
    • Compare: "Cæsar said he loved the treason, but hated the traitor", Plutarch, Life of Romulus.
    • Compare: "This principle is old, but true as fate,—
      Kings may love treason, but the traitor hate." Thomas Dekker, The Honest Whore (1604).
  • Ah, were she pitiful as she is fair,
    Or but as mild as she is seeming so,
    Then were my hopes greater than my despair,
    Then all the world were heaven, nothing woe.
  • Sovereign of beauty, like the spray she grows;
    Compass'd she is with thorns and canker'd bower.
    Yet, were she willing to be pluck'd and worn,
    She would be gather'd, though she grew on thorn.
    • Pandosto; Dyce p. 294.
  • Weep not, my wanton, smile upon my knee;
    When thou art old there’s grief enough for thee.
    • "Sephestia's Song to her Child", line 1, from Menaphon (1589); Dyce p. 286.
  • Like to Diana in her summer-weed,
    Girt with a crimson robe of brightest dye,
    Goes fair Samela;
    Whiter than be the flocks that straggling feed
    When wash'd by Arethusa Fount they lie,
    Is fair Samela.
    • "Doron's Description of Samela", line 1, from Menaphon; Dyce p. 287.
  • Ah! what is love? It is a pretty thing,
    As sweet unto a shepherd as a king;
    And sweeter too,
    For kings have cares that wait upon a crown,
    And cares can make the sweetest love to frown;
    Ah then, ah then,
    If country loves such sweet desires do gain,
    What lady would not love a shepherd swain?
    • "The Shepherd's Wife's Song", line 1, from Mourning Garment (1590); Dyce p. 305.
  • Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content;
    The quiet mind is richer than a crown.
    • Song, "Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content", line 1, from Farewell to Folly (1591); Dyce p. 309.
  • A mind content both crown and kingdom is.
    • Song, "Sweet are the thoughts that savour of content", line 12, from Farewell to Folly (1591); Dyce p. 309.
  • Deceiving world, that with alluring toys
    Hast made my life the subject of thy scorn,
    And scornest now to lend thy fading joys,
    T'outlength my life, whom friends have left forlorn;
    How well are they that die ere they be born,
    And never see thy sleights, which few men shun
    Till unawares they helpless are undone!
    • "Verses", line 1, from Groatsworth of Wit (1592); Dyce p. 310.
    • Groatsworth of Wit was published posthumously under Greene's name, but it was heavily revised by Henry Chettle, and may have been partially or even totally written by him.
  • There is an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his tiger's heart wrapped in a player's hide supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes Factotum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.
    • Groatsworth of Wit; cited from William Shakespeare (ed. Stephen Orgel and A. R. Braunmuller) The Complete Works (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2002) p. xlvii.
    • Probably the earliest reference to Shakespeare as a figure in the theatrical world.
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