Shakespeare’s best love quotes and their meaning

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day….?

…..or shall we figure out what I am trying to say first?!

Let EF English Live guide your journey through some of the Bard’s most famous poetry. Here’s a quick lowdown to some key Shakespeare moments of passion – and what the characters are actually saying.

Feeling love-sick? Or lusting after someone you can’t have? Green with envy over another? Fortunately, Shakespeare’s got some great phrases for those moments when love is the only thing on our minds.

Maybe you think love is blind.

Or perhaps you believe that the only true love is love at first sight.

Whether you want to comfort a lovelorn friend or entice a new romantic interest, a few words from Shakespeare could illuminate and articulate those situations.

Here are a few beauties – and some tips on when they are appropriate.

Happily in love

I would not wish any companion in the world but you

The Tempest

I humbly do beseech of your pardon,

For too much loving you


Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Thou art more lovely and more temperate.

Sonnet 18

Good for: love letters; anniversaries; long-term relationships; unabashed adoration; summer’s days with your love (and you want to really, really, make sure they know that you think they are even more wonderful than the weather…)

Looking for action

If music be the food of love, play on

Twelfth Night

Good for: rock fans; serenading; any situation in which music is part of a date. This quote is a bit of a (love) party-starter: it says, if this music is going to help me find some romance, turn that volume up!

Lamenting loss

Now boast thee, Death, in thy possession lies

A lass unparalleled.

Antony and Cleopatra

Good for: funerals; paying tribute to someone wonderful at the end of their life.

Tough love

Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,

Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof

Romeo and Juliet

If love be rough with you, be rough with love

Prick love for pricking and you beat love down

Romeo and Juliet

Is this the generation of love? Hot blood, hot thoughts and hot deeds? Why, they are vipers. Is love a generation of vipers?

Troilus and Cressida

Good for: comforting a dumped/jilted/lovesick friend; finding strength in heartbreak; a night of forgetting about the world and pretending you don’t care about love at all. Note, the second quote actually comes from a similar situation: Mercutio tries to cheer up lovesick Romeo into coming to a party and forgetting his impossible love, Rosaline!

Love at first sight

Hear my oul speak.

Of the very instant that I saw you,

Did my heart fly at your service

Twelfth Night

Did my heart love til now? Forswear it, sight.

For I ne’er saw true beauty till this night.

Romeo and Juliet

Good for: making a first impression; sweeping someone off their feet; anybody going for the swashbuckling/handsome prince/hero on a white horse effect. This is a quote for someone who quite literally takes your breath away.

Love is blind

Love is blind, and lovers cannot see,

The pretty follies that themselves commit

The Merchant of Venice

Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Good for: situations in which strange or unexpected people become romantically involved.

Stay away

I pray you, do not fall in love with me,

For I am falser than vows made in wine

As You Like It

Good for: warding off unwanted admirers; situations in which you feel temptation working its magic.

Bumps in the road

The course of true love never did run smooth

A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Good for: reassuring your friends when things take their first bad turn in a relationship; reassuring your partner after an argument (it’s normal!); reassuring yourself when things start to get tricky with the one you’re with.