English Proverbs


What is a proverb?  A proverb is a short well-known expression that states a general truth or gives advice.

 What is a saying?   A saying is a well-known expression, or a remark often made, also known as a proverb.


Alphabetical list of proverbs- A - K
 with an explanation where necessary 



Explanation / Meaning


 Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

  When you are away from someone you love, you love them even more.


 Accidents will happen.

  Some unfortunate events must be accepted as inevitable.


 Actions speak louder than words.

  What a person actually does is more important that what they say they will do.


 Advice is cheap.

  It doesn't cost anything to offer advice.


 Advice is least heeded when most needed.

  When a problem is serious, people often do not follow the advice given.


 Advisers run no risks.

  It's easier to give advice than to act.


 All cats are grey in the dark.

 People are undistinguished until they have made a name.


 All good things come to those who wait.

  Patience brings rewards.


 All that glitters is not gold.

  Appearances can be deceptive.


 All days are short to Industry and long to Idleness.

  Time goes by slowly when you have nothing to do.


 All is fair in love and war

  Things that are done  in love or war can often be excused.


 All's well that ends well

  There is a solution to everything even though there are doubts.


 All that glitters is not gold.

  What look good on the outside may not be so in reality.


 All things grow with time - except grief.

  As time goes by, grief subsides little by little.


 All things are difficult before they are easy.

  With practice things become easier.


 All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

  Everybody needs a certain amount of relaxation.  It is not good to work all
  the time.


 An apple a day keeps the doctor away.*

  Eating an apple every day can help to keep you healthy.
  Other interpretation : A small preventive treatment wards off serious problems.


 An empty purse frightens away friends.

  When one's financial situation deteriorates,  friends tend to disappear.


 An Englishman's home is his castle.

  An Englishman's home is a place where he feels safe,  enjoys privacy
  and can do as he wishes.


 An idle brain is the devil's workshop.

  When you work you avoid temptation.


 An onion a day keeps everyone away.*

 *A humoristic version of "an apple a day..."


 An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

  It is easier to prevent something from happening than to repair the damage or
  cure the disease later.


 Anger is the one thing made better by delay.

  When you are angry, it is best not to speak or act immediately.


 Any time means no time.

  If the date of an event remains vague, it will never happen.


 April showers bring May flowers.

 Something bad or unpleasant today may bring good things in the future.





 A bad tree does not yield good apples.

  A bad parent does not raise good children.


 A bad workman blames his tools.

  Blaming the tools for bad workmanship is an excuse for lack of skill.


 A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.

  It's better to keep what you have than to risk losing it by searching for something better.


 A broken friendship may be soldered but will
 never be sound.

  Friendships can be rebuilt after a dispute but will never be as strong as before.


 A burden of one's own choice is not felt.

  Something difficult seems easier when it is done voluntarily.


 A burnt  child dreads the fire.

  A bad experience will make people stay away from certain things.


 A cat has nine lives.

  1) Cats can survive many accidents because they land on their feet without injury.
  2) Three lives = 3 years to play, 3 years to stray, 3 years to stay.


 A chain is no stronger than its weakest link.

 The strength of a group depends on each individual member.


 A change is as good as a rest.

  A change in routine is often as refreshing as a break or a holiday.


 A dry March, a wet April and a cool May
    fill barn and cellar and bring much hay.

  Harvest predictions according to the weather.


 A fault confessed is half redressed.

  Confession is the beginning of forgiveness.


 A flower blooms more than once.

  If you miss an occasion, you can avail of it at another time.


 A fool and his money are soon (easily) parted.

  A foolish person usually spends money carelessly.


 A fool at forty is a fool forever.

  If a person hasn't matured by the age of 40, they never will.


 A friend in need is a friend indeed.

  Someone who helps you when you are in trouble is a real friend.


 A friend to all is a friend to none.

  Someone who is a friend to everyone makes none of them feel special.


 A friend's eye is a good mirror.

  A real friend will tell you the truth.


 A good example is the best sermon.

  Giving an example is better than giving advice.


 A good beginning makes a good end.

  If a task is carefully planned, there's a better chance that it will be done well.


 A good conscience is a soft pillow.

  You sleep well when you have nothing to feel guilty about.


 A guilty conscience needs no accuser.



 A leopard cannot change its spots.

  It is not possible for a bad or unpleasant person to become good or pleasant.


 A loaded wagon makes no noise.

  Really wealthy don't talk about money.


 A loveless life is a living death.



 A man can die but once.



 A man is as old as he feels himself to be.



 A man is known by the company he keeps.

  A person's character is judged by the type of people with whom they spend
  their time.


 A monkey in silk is a monkey no less.

  No matter how someone dresses, it's the same person underneath.


 A new broom sweeps clean.

  A newly-appointed person makes changes energetically.


 A problem shared is a problem halved.

  It will be easier to deal with a problem if you discuss it with someone.


 A rising tide lifts all boats.

  Describes something that will be helpful to all.


 A rolling stone gathers no moss.

  If a person keeps moving from place to place, they gain neither friends nor
  Another interpretation is that, by moving often, one avoids being tied down!


 A rotten apple spoils the barrel.

  A dishonest or immoral person can have a bad influence on a group.


 A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.

  Overcoming adversity leads to competence.


 A stitch in time saves nine.

  It's better to deal with a  problem at an early stage, to prevent it from getting


 A stumble may prevent a fall.

  Correcting a small mistake may help you to avoid making a bigger one.


 A swallow does not make the summer.

  One good event does not mean that everything is alright.


 A tree is known by its fruit.

  A man is judged by his actions.


 A watched pot never boils

  If you wait anxiously for something, it seems to take a long time.


 A young idler, an old beggar.

  If you don't work, you won't have any money when you're old.


 After dinner rest a while, after supper walk a mile.

 Today 'dinner' is usually called 'lunch', and 'supper' more often called 'dinner'.


 As you make your bed you must lie upon it.

  You should choose carefully the person you marry.


 As you sow, so shall you reap

  You have to accept the consequences of your actions.


 Ask me no questions, I'll tell  you no lies.

  There are subjects I'd rather not discuss.





 Bad news travels fast.

  People tend to circulate bad news (accidents, illness etc.) very quickly.


 Beauty is only skin deep.

  A person's character is more important than their appearance.


 Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

  Different people have different tastes.


 Beauty is the wisdom of women. Wisdom is the
 beauty of men.



 Be swift to hear, slow to speak.

  Listen carefully before speaking.


 Better be alone than in bad company.

  Be careful in the choice of the people you associate with.


 Better be the head of a dog then the tail of a lion.

  It's better to be the leader of a small group than a subordinate in a bigger one.


 Better flatter a fool than fight him.

  It's better to avoid disputes with stupid people.


 Better the devil you know than the devil you
 don't know

  It's better to deal with somebody difficult but familiar, than change and risk dealing
  with somebody worse.


 Better late than never.

  It's better to do something, even if it's late,  than not do it at all.


 Better lose the saddle than the horse.

  It's better to stop and accept a small loss, rather than continue and risk losing


 Better safe than sorry

  It's better to be too careful than to be careless and regret  it later.


 Better to drink the milk than to eat the cow.

  Be careful not to destroy the source of your income or welfare. 


 Better untaught than ill-taught

  It's better not to be taught at all than to be taught badly.


 Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

  Don't trust your enemies.


 Birds of a feather flock together.

  People of the same sort are usually found together.


 Blood is thicker than water  

  Family relationships are stronger than relationships with other people.


 Blood will out.

  A person's background or education will eventually show.


 Boys will be boys.

  Boys, and sometimes men,  behave in a childish way from time to time.





 Charity begins at home.

  A person's first duty is to help and care for his own family.


 Children and fools tell the truth.



 Cleanliness is next to godliness.

  A clean body is just as important as a pure soul.


 Clear moon, frost soon.

  If the atmosphere is clear, frost may form.


 Clothes don't make the man.

  Appearances can be deceiving.


 Constant occupation prevents temptation.

  When you work you avoid temptation.


 Crime doesn't pay

  Criminals do not benefit from their actions.





 Dead men tell no tales

  A dead person cannot cause difficulties by revealing something that it would be
  preferable to conceal.


 Diamond cuts diamond.

  Refers to two people equally matched in wit or cunning.


 Diligence is the mother of good fortune.

  Hard work brings rewards.


 Discretion is the better part of valour

  It is useless to take unnecessary risks.


 Diseases of the soul are more dangerous than
 those of the body.



 Distance makes the heart grow fonder.

  When you are separated from the person you love, your feelings are even stronger.


 Dogs of the same street bark alike.

  People from the same background have the same behaviour.


 Don't bark if you can't bite.

  Don't complain if you can't enforce your point of view.


 Don't count your chickens before they're hatched.

  You must not be too confident that something will be successful.


 Don't dig your grave with your own knife and fork.

  Don't do something yourself which causes your own downfall.


 Don't judge a book by its cover.

  Don't judge by appearances.





 Early to bed and early to rise makes a man
 healthy, wealthy and wise.



 Easier said than done.

  What is suggested sounds easy but it is more difficult to actually do it.


 Easy come, easy go.

  Money obtained without difficulty is easily spent or lost.


 Elbow grease is the best polish.

  Hard work gives the best results.


 Empty vessels make the most noise.

  The least intelligent people are often the most talkative or noisy.


 Every ass likes to hear himself bray.

  People like to listen to themselves talking.


 Every cloud has a silver lining

 There is a positive or hopeful side to every unpleasant situation.


 Every man for himself.

  You must think of your own interests before the interests of others.


 Every man has his price.

  Everyone's loyalty can be bought for a price.


 Every man is the architect of his own fortune.

  Life is what you make it.


 Every path has its puddle.

  Progress is rarely without difficulty.


 Every rose has its thorn.

  Every good thing has an unpleasant side.


 Every why has a wherefore.

  There is an explanation for everything.


 Everything in the garden is rosy.

  Everything is satisfactory.


 Experience is the father of wisdom.

  Experience and knowledge result in better judgement.





 Facts speak louder than words.

  People show what they are really like by what they do, rather than by what
  they say.


 Failure teaches success.



 False friends are worse than open enemies.



 Familiarity breeds contempt

  Knowing somebody very well may lead to a lack of respect for them.


 Fine words butter no parsnips.

  No amount of talking can replace action.


 First come, first served.

  The first person in the line will be attended to first.


 First things first.

  You should start with the most important duties or concerns.


 Fool me once, shame on you;
 fool me twice, shame on me.

  One should learn from one's mistakes.


 Fools rush in where angels fear to tread

  Inexperienced people act in situations that more intelligent people would avoid


 Friendship is love with understanding.






 Gardens are not made by sitting in the shade.

  Nothing is achieved without effort.


 Give someone an inch and they will take a
 mile (or yard).

  Give someone a little and they will want more - some people are never satisfied.


 Give someone enough rope and they will hang

  Give someone enough time and freedom and they will get into trouble.


 God helps those who help themselves.



 Good accounting makes good friends.

  You will keep your friends if you avoid disputes over money.


 Good and quickly seldom meet.

  A well-done job takes time.


 Good management is better than good income.



 Great minds think alike.

  Said when you express the same opinion as another person at the same time.


 Great oaks grow from little acorns.

  Large successful operations can begin in a small way.


 Grief divided is made lighter

  If you share your grief it is easier to bear.





 Half a loaf is better than none.

  You should be grateful for something, even if it's not as much as you wanted.


 Hard words break no bones.



 Haste makes waste.

  If something is done too quickly, it may be done carelessly and need to be redone.


 Hatred is a blind as love.

  A person who feels hatred does not see any qualities in the person he/she hates.


 He can who believes he can.

  If you believe you can do something, you will be able to do it.


 He has enough who is content.

  A happy person needs nothing more.


 He who hesitates is lost.

  If you delay your decision too long, you may miss a good opportunity.


 He who is everywhere is nowhere.

  It's not good to do too many things at the same time.


 He who knows nothing, doubts nothing.

  Knowledge leads us to make choices.


 He who pays the piper calls the tune.

  The person who provides the money for something should control how it is spent


 He who plays with fire gets burnt.

  If you behave in a risky way, you are likely to have problems.


 He who wills the end wills  the means.

  If you are determined to do something you will find a way.


 He laughs best who laughs last.

  Don't express your joy, or your triumph, too soon!


 Health is better than wealth.

  It's better to be in good health than to be rich.


 Home is where the heart is.

  You call home the place where the people you love are.


 Honesty is the best policy.

  It's always better to be honest.


 Honey catches more flies than vinegar.

  You can obtain more cooperation from others by being nice.


 However long the night, the dawn will  break

  Bad things don't last forever.


 Hunger is a good sauce.

  All food tastes good when you are hungry.





 In times of prosperity friends are plentiful.

  You have many friends when you have no difficulties.


 If a camel getshis nose in a tent, his body will

  If you let something intrusive enter your life, your life will become difficult .


 If life deals you lemons, make lemonade.

  You should make the best of a bad situation.


 If in February there be no rain, 'tis neither good
 for hay nor grain.

  Plants and crops will grow badly if there is no rain in early spring.


 If you are patient in one moment of anger,
 you will avoid 100 days of sorrow.

  Avoid regrets by taking time to think before speaking or acting angrily.


 If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either

  If you try to do two things at the same time, you won't succeed in doing either of them.


 If two ride a horse, one must ride behind.

 When two people do something together, one will be the leader
  and the other will be the subordinate.


 If you want a friend, be a friend.



 If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride.

  Wishing alone is of no use;  you must act as well.


 Ignorance is bliss.

  Possible interpretation: What you do not know causes no worry or sadness.


 In for a penny, in for a pound.

  If you start something, it's better to spend the time or money necessary to complete it.


 In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

  A man of even limited ability has an advantage over a person who is less able.


 It never rains but it pours.

  Misfortunes usually come in large numbers.


 It is always darkest before the dawn

  The most difficult time is just before a problem is solved.


 It's no use crying over spilt milk.

  Don't express regret for something that has happened and cannot be remedied.


 It takes all sorts to make a world.

  People vary in character and abilities, and this is a good thing.





 Justice delayed is justice denied.

  If the law is applied too late, there is no justice.





 Knowledge in youth is wisdom in age.

  What you learn when you are young will be invaluable when you grow old.


 Knowledge is power.

  Knowledge makes it possible for you to act.


 Kill one to warn a hundred.

  Warn many by punishing a few.


 Kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

  Destroy something that would be a source of wealth or success.


 Kindness begets kindness.

  If you are kind to people, they will be kind to you.


Next page :    proverbs L-Z

       See also :     Idioms (in categories)

الساعات المكتبية

الساعات المكتبية

السبت : 8-10

الأحد :10-12




أعلان هام

أرجو ا من جميع الطلاب الذين طلبت منهم الحضور لمكتبي لأخذ المقاطع الصوتية فيما يخص مادة الاستماع التواصل معي غدا الاثنين وبعدغد الثلاثاء وذلك للأهمية ولقرب موعد اختبارات منتصف الفصل وتقبلوا فائق تقديري

أرجوا من جميع الطلاب في حال مواجهة أي صعوبة أو التباس في فهم اي نقطه من المقررات التي ادرسها لهم عدم التردد في الاتصال بي ومراجعتي في مكتبي مع امنياتي القلبية لكم جميعا بالتوفيق والنجاح واوصيكم ونفسي بتقوى الله والجد والمثابره

سلام من الله عليكم جميعا -- ارجو  ان يكون الجميع قد استمتع بعطله جميله ونرجع ونقول من طلب العلا سهر الليالي ---ارجو من كل الطلاب العودة بقوة وحماس الشباب للنهل من العلم والله يوفقكم ويرعاكم

اعلان هام للغاية لطلاب Eng002وطلاب Eng001سوف يقام امتحان مهارة الاستماع في اخر اسبوع دراسي ---يوم الاثنين الموافق 23-6-1433----أهيب بكل الطلاب الحضور والحرص والا سوف يعتبر غائب ويفقد درجة الامتحان --واسال الله لكم التوفيق والنجاح وارجو عدم التردد في سؤالي في حال وجود اي استفسار ---ولا تنسونا من صالح الدعاء

سلام من الله عليكم 

أهيب بكل الطلاب الذين تغيبوا عن الاختبار الفصلي ان يراجعوني الاحد القادم باذن الله تعالى الموافق 11-1-2015 الساعة العاشرة صباحا وذلك للاهمية

سلام من الله عليكم جميعا يا شباب ---نزل جدول اختبارات الفصل الدراسي الثاني للعام الجامعي 1432-1433 ومرفق لكم صوره منه ---ارجوا منكم جميعا الجد والاجتهاد والمثابره فما هي الا ايام معدودات وتجني ثمار جهدك ---نسأل الله لكم التوفيق والنجاح وحاضرين في اي وقت لأي استفسار او سؤال ولا تنسونا من صالح الدعاء--

سلام من الله عليكم اعزائي الطلاب ارجو من الطلاب الذين تجاوز غيابهم الثلاثون ساعة سرعة تقديم اعذارهم الرسمية .

أخر يوم لتقديم الاعذار الاربعاء الموافق السادس والعشرون من ديسمبر 2012

نزل اليوم الجدول النهائي للامتحانات وارجو من الجميع الجد والاجتهاد وعدم التردد في الاتصال بي لأي توضيح أو استفسار مع أمنياتي القلبية للجميع بالتوفيق والنجاح

هااااام وعاجل : تم تغيير موعد اختبار اللغة الانجليزية الثلاثاء المقبل الموافق الاول من يناير 2013من الساعة التاسعة صباحا حتي العاشرة والرع صباحا بدلا من الثانية عشرة ظهرا وحتى الواحدة والربع كما هو معتاد سابقا ارجو من الجميع الانتباه والله الموفق

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من مشاهير الادب الانجليزي


The English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare
(1564-1616) is generally acknowledged to be the greatest of English writers and
one of the most extraordinary creators in human history.

The most crucial fact about William Shakespeare's career is
that he was a popular dramatist. Born 6 years after Queen Elizabeth I had
ascended the throne, contemporary with the high period of the English
Renaissance, Shakespeare had the good luck to find in the theater of London a
medium just coming into its own and an audience, drawn from a wide range of
social classes, eager to reward talents of the sort he possessed. His entire
life was committed to the public theater, and he seems to have written nondramatic
poetry only when enforced closings of the theater made writing plays
impractical. It is equally remarkable that his days in the theater were almost
exactly contemporary with the theater's other outstanding achievements—the
work, for example, of Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson, and John Webster.

Shakespeare was born on or just before April 23, 1564, in
the small but then important Warwickshire town of Stratford. His mother, born
Mary Arden, was the daughter of a landowner from a neighboring village. His
father, John, son of a farmer, was a glove maker and trader in farm produce; he
had achieved a position of some eminence in the prosperous market town by the
time of his son's birth, holding a number of responsible positions in
Stratford's government and serving as mayor in 1569. By 1576, however, John
Shakespeare had begun to encounter the financial difficulties which were to
plague him until his death in 1601.

Though no personal documents survive from Shakespeare's
school years, his literary work shows the mark of the excellent if grueling
education offered at the Stratford grammar school (some reminiscences of
Stratford school days may have lent amusing touches to scenes in The Merry
Wives of Windsor
). Like other Elizabethan schoolboys, Shakespeare studied
Latin grammar during the early years, then progressed to the study of logic,
rhetoric, composition, oration, versification, and the monuments of Roman
literature. The work was conducted in Latin and relied heavily on rote
memorization and the master's rod. A plausible tradition holds that William had
to discontinue his education when about 13 in order to help his father. At 18
he married Ann Hathaway, a Stratford girl. They had three children (Susanna,
1583-1649; Hamnet, 1585-1596; and his twin, Judith, 1585-1662) and who was to
survive him by 7 years. Shakespeare remained actively involved in Stratford
affairs throughout his life, even when living in London, and retired there at
the end of his career.

The years between 1585 and 1592, having left no evidence as
to Shakespeare's activities, have been the focus of considerable speculation;
among other things, conjecture would have him a traveling actor or a country
schoolmaster. The earliest surviving notice of his career in London is a
jealous attack on the "upstart crow" by Robert Greene, a playwright,
professional man of letters, and profligate whose career was at an end in 1592
though he was only 6 years older than Shakespeare. Greene's outcry testifies,
both in its passion and in the work it implies Shakespeare had been doing for
some time, that the young poet had already established himself in the capital.
So does the quality of Shakespeare's first plays: it is hard to believe that
even Shakespeare could have shown such mastery without several years of apprenticeship.

Early Career

Shakespeare's first extant play is probably The Comedy of
(1590; like most dates for the plays, this is conjectural and may be
a year or two off), a brilliant and intricate farce involving two sets of
identical twins and based on two already-complicated comedies by the Roman
Plautus. Though less fully achieved, his next comedy, The Two Gentlemen of
(1591), is more prophetic of Shakespeare's later comedy, for its
plot depends on such devices as a faithful girl who educates her fickle lover,
romantic woods, a girl dressed as a boy, sudden reformations, music, and happy
marriages at the end. The last of the first comedies, Love's Labour's Lost
(1593), is romantic again, dealing with the attempt of three young men to withdraw
from the world and women for 3 years to study in their king's "little
Academe," and their quick surrender to a group of young ladies who come to
lodge nearby. If the first of the comedies is most notable for its plotting and
the second for its romantic elements, the third is distinguished by its
dazzling language and its gallery of comic types. Already Shakespeare had
learned to fuse conventional characters with convincing representations of the
human life he knew.

Though little read and performed now, Shakespeare's first
plays in the popular "chronicle," or history, genre are equally
ambitious and impressive. Dealing with the tumultuous events of English history
between the death of Henry V in 1422 and the accession of Henry VII in 1485 (which
began the period of Tudor stability maintained by Shakespeare's own queen), the
three "parts" of Henry VI (1592) and Richard III (1594)
are no tentative experiments in the form: rather they constitute a gigantic
tetralogy, in which each part is a superb play individually and an integral
part of an epic sequence. Nothing so ambitious had ever been attempted in
England in a form hitherto marked by slapdash formlessness.

Shakespeare's first tragedy, Titus Andronicus (1593),
reveals similar ambition. Though its chamber of horrors— including mutilations
and ingenious murders—strikes the modern reader as belonging to a theatrical
tradition no longer viable, the play is in fact a brilliant and successful
attempt to outdo the efforts of Shakespeare's predecessors in the lurid
tradition of the revenge play.

When the theaters were closed because of plague during much
of 1593-1594, Shakespeare looked to nondramatic poetry for his support and
wrote two narrative masterpieces, the seriocomic Venus and Adonis and
the tragic Rape of Lucrece, for a wealthy patron, the Earl of
Southampton. Both poems carry the sophisticated techniques of Elizabethan
narrative verse to their highest point, drawing on the resources of Renaissance
mythological and symbolic traditions.

Shakespeare's most famous poems, probably composed in this
period but not published until 1609, and then not by the author, are the 154
sonnets, the supreme English examples of the form. Writing at the end of a
brief, frenzied vogue for sequences of sonnets, Shakespeare found in the
conventional 14-line lyric with its fixed rhyme scheme a vehicle for
inexhaustible technical innovations—for Shakespeare even more than for other
poets, the restrictive nature of the sonnet generates a paradoxical freedom of
invention that is the life of the form—and for the expression of emotions and
ideas ranging from the frivolous to the tragic. Though often suggestive of
autobiographical revelation, the sonnets cannot be proved to be any the less
fictions than the plays. The identity of their dedicatee, "Mr. W.
H.," remains a mystery, as does the question of whether there were
real-life counterparts to the famous "dark lady" and the unfaithful
friend who are the subject of a number of the poems. But the chief value of these
poems is intrinsic: the sonnets alone would have established Shakespeare's
preeminence among English poets.

Lord Chamberlain's Men

By 1594 Shakespeare was fully engaged in his career. In that
year he became principal writer for the successful Lord Chamberlain's Men—one
of the two leading companies of actors; a regular actor in the company; and a
"sharer," or partner, in the group of artist-managers who ran the
entire operation and were in 1599 to have the Globe Theater built on the south
bank of the Thames. The company performed regularly in unroofed but elaborate
theaters. Required by law to be set outside the city limits, these theaters
were the pride of London, among the first places shown to visiting foreigners,
and seated up to 3,000 people. The actors played on a huge platform stage
equipped with additional playing levels and surrounded on three sides by the
audience; the absence of scenery made possible a flow of scenes comparable to
that of the movies, and music, costumes, and ingenious stage machinery created
successful illusions under the afternoon sun.

For this company Shakespeare produced a steady outpouring of
plays. The comedies include The Taming of the Shrew (1594), fascinating
in light of the first comedies since it combines with an Italian-style plot, in
which all the action occurs in one day, a more characteristically English and
Shakespearean plot, the taming of Kate, in which much more time passes; A
Midsummer Night's Dream
(1595), in which "rude mechanicals,"
artisans without imagination, become entangled with fairies and magic potions
in the moonlit woods to which young lovers have fled from a tyrannical adult
society; The Merchant of Venice (1596), which contributed Shylock and
Portia to the English literary tradition; Much Ado about Nothing (1598),
with a melodramatic main plot whose heroine is maligned and almost driven to
death by a conniving villain and a comic subplot whose Beatrice and Benedick
remain the archetypical sparring lovers; The Merry Wives of Windsor
(1599), held by tradition to have been written in response to the Queen's
request that Shakespeare write another play about Falstaff (who had appeared in
Henry IV), this time in love; and in 1600 the pastoral As You Like
a mature return to the woods and conventions of The Two Gentlemen of
and A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Twelfth Night,
perhaps the most perfect of the comedies, a romance of identical twins
separated at sea, young love, and the antics of Malvolio and Sir Toby Belch.

Shakespeare's only tragedies of the period are among his
most familiar plays: Romeo and Juliet (1596), Julius Caesar
(1599), and Hamlet (1601). Different from one another as they are, these
three plays share some notable features: the setting of intense personal
tragedy in a large world vividly populated by what seems like the whole range
of humanity; a refusal, shared by most of Shakespeare's contemporaries in the
theater, to separate comic situations and techniques from tragic; the constant
presence of politics; and—a personal rather than a conventional phenomenon—a
tragic structure in which what is best in the protagonist is what does him in
when he finds himself in conflict with the world.

Continuing his interest in the chronicle, Shakespeare wrote
King John (1596), despite its one strong character a relatively weak play; and
the second and greater tetralogy, ranging from Richard II (1595), in
which the forceful Bolingbroke, with an ambiguous justice on his side, deposes
the weak but poetic king, through the two parts of Henry IV (1597), in
which the wonderfully amoral, fat knight Falstaff accompanies Prince Hal,
Bolingbroke's son, to Henry V (1599), in which Hal, become king, leads a
newly unified England, its civil wars temporarily at an end but sadly deprived
of Falstaff and the dissident lowlife who provided so much joy in the earlier
plays, to triumph over France. More impressively than the first tetralogy, the
second turns history into art. Spanning the poles of comedy and tragedy, alive
with a magnificent variety of unforgettable characters, linked to one another
as one great play while each is a complete and independent success in its own
right—the four plays pose disturbing and unanswerable questions about politics,
making one ponder the frequent difference between the man capable of ruling and
the man worthy of doing so, the meaning of legitimacy in office, the value of
order and stability as against the value of revolutionary change, and the
relation of private to public life. The plays are exuberant works of art, but
they are not optimistic about man as a political animal, and their unblinkered
recognition of the dynamics of history has made them increasingly popular and
relevant in our own tormented era.

Three plays of the end of Elizabeth's reign are often
grouped as Shakespeare's "problem plays," though no definition of
that term is able successfully to differentiate them as an exclusive group. All's
Well That Ends Well
(1602) is a romantic comedy with qualities that seem
bitter to many critics; like other plays of the period, by Shakespeare and by
his contemporaries, it presents sexual relations between men and women in a
harsh light. Troilus and Cressida (1602), hardest of the plays to
classify generically, is a brilliant, sardonic, and disillusioned piece on the
Trojan War, unusually philosophical in its language and reminiscent in some
ways of Hamlet. The tragicomic Measure for Measure (1604) focuses
more on sexual problems than any other play in the canon; Angelo, the
puritanical and repressed man of ice who succumbs to violent sexual urges the
moment he is put in temporary authority over Vienna during the duke's absence,
and Isabella, the victim of his lust, are two of the most interesting characters
in Shakespeare, and the bawdy city in which the action occurs suggests a London
on which a new mood of modern urban hopelessness is settling.

King's Men

Promptly upon his accession in 1603, King James I, more
ardently attracted to theatrical art than his predecessor, bestowed his
patronage upon the Lord Chamberlain's Men, so that the flag of the King's Men
now flew over the Globe. During his last decade in the theater Shakespeare was
to write fewer but perhaps even finer plays. Almost all the greatest tragedies
belong to this period. Though they share the qualities of the earlier
tragedies, taken as a group they manifest new tendencies. The heroes are
dominated by passions that make their moral status increasingly ambiguous,
their freedom increasingly circumscribed; similarly the society, even the
cosmos, against which they strive suggests less than ever that all can ever be
right in the world. As before, what destroys the hero is what is best about
him, yet the best in Macbeth or Othello cannot so simply be commended as
Romeo's impetuous ardor or Brutus's political idealism (fatuous though it is).
The late tragedies are each in its own way dramas of alienation, and their
focus, like that of the histories, continues to be felt as intensely relevant
to the concerns of modern men.

Othello (1604) is
concerned, like other plays of the period, with sexual impurity, with the
difference that that impurity is the fantasy of the protagonist about his
faithful wife. Iago, the villain who drives Othello to doubt and murder, is the
culmination of two distinct traditions, the "Machiavellian" conniver
who uses deceit in order to subvert the order of the polity, and the Vice, a
schizophrenically tragicomic devil figure from the morality plays going out of
fashion as Shakespeare grew up. King Lear (1605), to many Shakespeare's
masterpiece, is an agonizing tragic version of a comic play (itself based on
mythical early English history), in which an aged king who foolishly deprives
his only loving daughter of her heritage in order to leave all to her
hypocritical and vicious sisters is hounded to death by a malevolent alliance
which at times seems to include nature itself. Transformed from its
fairy-tale-like origins, the play involves its characters and audience alike in
metaphysical questions that are felt rather than thought.

Macbeth (1606),
similarly based on English chronicle material, concentrates on the problems of
evil and freedom, convincingly mingles the supernatural with a representation
of history, and makes a paradoxically sympathetic hero of a murderer who sins
against family and state—a man in some respects worse than the villain of Hamlet.

Dramatizing stories from Plutarch's Parallel Lives,
Antony and Cleopatra
and Coriolanus (both written in 1607-1608)
embody Shakespeare's bitterest images of political life, the former by setting
against the call to Roman duty the temptation to liberating sexual passion, the
latter by pitting a protagonist who cannot live with hypocrisy against a
society built on it. Both of these tragedies present ancient history with a
vividness that makes it seem contemporary, though the sensuousness of Antony
and Cleopatra,
the richness of its detail, the ebullience of its language,
and the seductive character of its heroine have made it far more popular than
the harsh and austere Coriolanus. One more tragedy, Timon of Athens,
similarly based on Plutarch, was written during this period, though its date is
obscure. Despite its abundant brilliance, few find it a fully satisfactory
play, and some critics have speculated that what we have may be an incomplete
draft. The handful of tragedies that Shakespeare wrote between 1604 and 1608
comprises an astonishing series of worlds different from one another, created
of language that exceeds anything Shakespeare had done before, some of the most
complex and vivid characters in all the plays, and a variety of new structural

A final group of plays takes a turn in a new direction.
Commonly called the "romances," Pericles (1607), Cymbeline
(1609), The Winter's Tale (1611), and The Tempest (1611) share
their conventions with the tragicomedy that had been growing popular since the
early years of the century. Particularly they resemble in some respects plays
written by Beaumont and Fletcher for the private theatrical company whose
operation the King's Men took over in 1608. While such work in the hands of
others, however, tended to reflect the socially and intellectually narrow
interests of an elite audience, Shakespeare turned the fashionable mode into a
new kind of personal art form. Though less searing than the great tragedies,
these plays have a unique power to move and are in the realm of the highest
art. Pericles and Cymbeline seem somewhat tentative and
experimental, though both are superb plays. The Winter's Tale, however,
is one of Shakespeare's best plays. Like a rewriting of Othello in its
first acts, it turns miraculously into pastoral comedy in its last. The
is the most popular and perhaps the finest of the group. Prospero,
shipwrecked on an island and dominating it with magic which he renounces at the
end, may well be intended as an image of Shakespeare himself; in any event, the
play is like a retrospective glance over the plays of the 2 previous decades.

After the composition of The Tempest, which many
regard as an explicit farewell to art, Shakespeare retired to Stratford,
returning to London to compose Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen
in 1613; neither of these plays seems to have fired his imagination. In 1616,
at the age of 52, he was dead. His reputation grew quickly, and his work has
continued to seem to each generation like its own most precious discovery. His
value to his own age is suggested by the fact that two fellow actors performed
the virtually unprecedented act in 1623 of gathering his plays together and
publishing them in the Folio edition. Without their efforts, since Shakespeare
was apparently not interested in publication, many of the plays would not have



The wood -Apoem by Charlottte Bronte


The Wood a poem by Charlotte Bronte


Charlotte Bronte

But two miles more, and then we rest!
Well, there is still an hour of day,
And long the brightness of the West
Will light us on our devious way;
Sit then, awhile, here in this wood--
So total is the solitude,
We safely may delay.

These massive roots afford a seat,
Which seems for weary travellers made.
There rest. The air is soft and sweet
In this sequestered forest glade,
And there are scents of flowers around,
The evening dew draws from the ground;
How soothingly they spread!

Yes; I was tired, but not at heart;
No--that beats full of sweet content,
For now I have my natural part
Of action with adventure blent;
Cast forth on the wide world with thee,
And all my once waste energy
To weighty purpose bent.

Yet--sayst thou, spies around us roam,
Our aims are termed conspiracy?
Haply, no more our English home
An anchorage for us may be?
That there is risk our mutual blood
May redden in some lonely wood
The knife of treachery?

Sayst thou, that where we lodge each night,
In each lone farm, or lonelier hall
Of Norman Peer--ere morning light
Suspicion must as duly fall,
As day returns--such vigilance
Presides and watches over France,
Such rigour governs all?

I fear not, William; dost thou fear?
So that the knife does not divide,
It may be ever hovering near:
I could not tremble at thy side,
And strenuous love--like mine for thee--
Is buckler strong 'gainst treachery,
And turns its stab aside.

I am resolved that thou shalt learn
To trust my strength as I trust thine;
I am resolved our souls shall burn
With equal, steady, mingling shine;
Part of the field is conquered now,
Our lives in the same channel flow,
Along the self-same line;

And while no groaning storm is heard,
Thou seem'st content it should be so,
But soon as comes a warning word
Of danger--straight thine anxious brow
Bends over me a mournful shade,
As doubting if my powers are made
To ford the floods of woe.

Know, then it is my spirit swells,
And drinks, with eager joy, the air
Of freedom--where at last it dwells,
Chartered, a common task to share
With thee, and then it stirs alert,
And pants to learn what menaced hurt
Demands for thee its care.

Remember, I have crossed the deep,
And stood with thee on deck, to gaze
On waves that rose in threatening heap,
While stagnant lay a heavy haze,
Dimly confusing sea with sky,
And baffling, even, the pilot's eye,
Intent to thread the maze--

Of rocks, on Bretagne's dangerous coast,
And find a way to steer our band
To the one point obscure, which lost,
Flung us, as victims, on the strand;--
All, elsewhere, gleamed the Gallic sword,
And not a wherry could be moored
Along the guarded land.

I feared not then--I fear not now;
The interest of each stirring scene
Wakes a new sense, a welcome glow,
In every nerve and bounding vein ;
Alike on turbid Channel sea,
Or in still wood of Normandy,
I feel as born again.

The rain descended that wild morn
When, anchoring in the cove at last,
Our band, all weary and forlorn
Ashore, like wave-worn sailors, cast--
Sought for a sheltering roof in vain,
And scarce could scanty food obtain
To break their morning fast.

Thou didst thy crust with me divide,
Thou didst thy cloak around me fold;
And, sitting silent by thy side,
I ate the bread in peace untold:
Given kindly from thy hand, 'twas sweet
As costly fare or princely treat
On royal plate of gold.

Sharp blew the sleet upon my face,
And, rising wild, the gusty wind
Drove on those thundering waves apace,
Our crew so late had left behind;
But, spite of frozen shower and storm,
So close to thee, my heart beat warm,
And tranquil slept my mind.

So now--nor foot-sore nor opprest
With walking all this August day,
I taste a heaven in this brief rest,
This gipsy-halt beside the way.
England's wild flowers are fair to view,
Like balm is England's summer dew
Like gold her sunset ray.

But the white violets, growing here,
Are sweeter than I yet have seen,
And ne'er did dew so pure and clear
Distil on forest mosses green,
As now, called forth by summer heat,
Perfumes our cool and fresh retreat--
These fragrant limes between.

That sunset! Look beneath the boughs,
Over the copse--beyond the hills;
How soft, yet deep and warm it glows,
And heaven with rich suffusion fills;
With hues where still the opal's tint,
Its gleam of prisoned fire is blent,
Where flame through azure thrills!

Depart we now--for fast will fade
That solemn splendour of decline,
And deep must be the after-shade
As stars alone to-night will shine;
No moon is destined--pale--to gaze
On such a day's vast Phoenix blaze,
A day in fires decayed!

There--hand-in-hand we tread again
The mazes of this varying wood,
And soon, amid a cultured plain,
Girt in with fertile solitude,
We shall our resting-place descry,
Marked by one roof-tree, towering high
Above a farmstead rude.

Refreshed, erelong, with rustic fare,
We'll seek a couch of dreamless ease;
Courage will guard thy heart from fear,
And Love give mine divinest peace:
To-morrow brings more dangerous toil,
And through its conflict and turmoil
We'll pass, as God shall please. 


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