Logo for Joe Sobran's newsletter: Sobran's -- The Real News of the Month

 Fine-Filed Phrases 

February 22, 2007 
paragraph indentIn 1598, Francis Meres praised “mellifluous and honey-tongued Shakespeare.” He added, “The Muses would speak with Shakespeare’s fine-filed phrase, Today's column is "Fine-Filed Phrases" -- Read Joe's columns the day he writes them.if they would speak English.”

paragraph indentTo celebrate my birthday this week, I’ve gathered a bouquet of Shakespeare’s short phrases, hoping especially that young readers will fall in love with his astonishing inspiration, as I once did. (Notice how much he can say in ten words or fewer.)

indent“Wherefore art thou Romeo?”; “My kingdom for a horse!”; “To be or not to be: that is the question”; “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”; “What fools these mortals be!”; “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”; “to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature”; “star-crossed lovers”; “There’s a divinity that shapes our ends”; “murder most foul”; “the most unkindest cut of all”; “the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”

indent“There’s beggary in the love that can be reckoned”; “flaming youth”; “remembrance of things past”; “We have scotched the snake, not killed it”; “a countenance more in sorrow than in anger”; “one fell swoop”; “The play’s the thing”; “in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes”; “The rest is silence”; “I have supped full with horrors”; “I’ll tent him to the quick.”

paragraph indent“I do believe her though I know she lies”; “These are but wild and whirling words”; “tongue-tied”; “nine-day wonder”; “to thine own self be true”; “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”; “screw your courage to the sticking-place”; “honest Iago”; “more matter with less art”; “Out, damned spot!”; “a barefaced lie”; “the best of the cut-throats”; “Once more unto the breach”; “it was Greek to me”; “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown”; “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.”

paragraph indent“I shall not look upon his like again”; “a lean and hungry look”; “the time is out of joint”; “cabined, cribbed, confined”; “one may smile, and smile, and be a villain”; “a fool’s paradise”; “I must be cruel, only to be kind”; “my salad days, When I was green in judgment”; “I dare do all that may become a man.”

indent“Frailty, thy name is woman”; “the paragon of animals”; “wild-goose chase”; “the apparel oft proclaims the man”; “a pound of flesh”; “caviar to the general”; “I have Immortal longings in me”; “in my mind’s eye”; “to the manner born”; “trumpet-tongued”; “one that loved not wisely, but too well”; “This was the noblest Roman of them all.”

[Breaker quote for Fine-Filed Phrases: Shakespeare in tiny doses]paragraph indent“Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all”; “the demi-Atlas of the earth”; “It out-Herods Herod”; “bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang”; “For Brutus is an honorable man”; “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark”; “What’s in a name?” “Alas, poor Yorick”; “Et tu, Brute?” “The quality of mercy is not strained”; “the very witching time of night”; “Cry ‘Havoc,’ and let slip the dogs of war.”

indent“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba?” “more sinned against than sinning”; “tell truth and shame the devil”; “Thy wish was father, Harry, to that thought”; “speak daggers to her”; “the marriage of true minds”; “Sweets to the sweet”; “the milk of human kindness”; “A plague o’ both your houses”; “brevity is the soul of wit”; “Now is the winter of our discontent”; “I am but mad north-northwest.”

paragraph indent“The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”; “A little more than kin, and less than kind”; “On horror’s head horrors accumulate”; “make assurance double-sure”; “The lady doth protest too much, methinks”; “that way madness lies”; “Words, words, words”; “a dish fit for the gods”; “A king of shreds and patches”; “every inch a king”; “in my heart of heart”; “Hath not a Jew eyes?” “Make Ossa like a wart”; “We happy few, we band of brothers”; “a foregone conclusion”; “a very palpable hit”; “This royal throne of kings, this sceptered isle”; “The course of true love never did run smooth.”

paragraph indent“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him”; “Lay on, Macduff”; “wear my heart upon my sleeve”; “Beware the Ides of March”; “a custom more honored in the breach than the observance”; “Parting is such sweet sorrow”; “the green-eyed monster”; “Nothing in his life Became him like the leaving it”; “O, for a muse of fire”; “All the world’s a stage”; “Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t”; “If you have tears, prepare to shed them now”; “hoist by his own petard”; “Sweet are the uses of adversity”; “household words.”

paragraph indentIt seems miraculous that one man could coin so many brilliant turns of phrase. No other author has ever been so fertile, versatile, and joyfully, inexhaustibly eloquent.

Joseph Sobran

Copyright © 2007 by the Griffin Internet Syndicate,
a division of Griffin Communications
This column may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of Griffin Internet Syndicate

small Griffin logo
Send this article to a friend.

Recipient’s e-mail address:
(You may have multiple e-mail addresses; separate them by spaces.)

Your e-mail address:

Enter a subject for your e-mail:

Mailarticle © 2001 by Gavin Spomer
Archive Table of Contents

Current Column

Return to the SOBRANS home page.

FGF E-Package columns by Joe Sobran, Sam Francis, Paul Gottfried, and others are available in a special e-mail subscription provided by the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation. Click here for more information.

Search This Site

Search the Web     Search SOBRANS

What’s New?

Articles and Columns by Joe Sobran
 FGF E-Package “Reactionary Utopian” Columns 
  Wanderer column (“Washington Watch”) 
 Essays and Articles | Biography of Joe Sobran | Sobran’s Cynosure 
 The Shakespeare Library | The Hive
 WebLinks | Books by Joe 
 Subscribe to Joe Sobran’s Columns 

Other FGF E-Package Columns and Articles
 Sam Francis Classics | Paul Gottfried, “The Ornery Observer” 
 Mark Wegierski, “View from the North” 
 Chilton Williamson Jr., “At a Distance” 
 Kevin Lamb, “Lamb amongst Wolves” 
 Subscribe to the FGF E-Package 

Products and Gift Ideas
Back to the home page 


SOBRANS and Joe Sobran’s columns are available by subscription. Details are available on-line; or call 800-513-5053; or write Fran Griffin.

Reprinted with permission
This page is copyright © 2007 by The Vere Company
and may not be reprinted in print or
Internet publications without express permission
of The Vere Company.