Recommended reading for the lecture 'Bloom on Shakespeare'

The talk by Yale professor Harold Bloom is sponsored by the Humanities Program and the Department of English, part of “Shakespeare at Yale,” a semester-long series of special events celebrating the Bard. 

“Henry IV, Part I”: Act I, scene ii, lines 87-95

Prince: Thou didst well, for wisdom cries out in the
streets and no man regards it.  

Falstaff: O, thou hast damnable iteration, and art  

indeed able to corrupt a saint: thou hast done much  

harm upon me, Hal, God forgive thee for it: before I  

knew thee, Hal, I knew nothing, and now am I, if a  

man should speak truly, little better than one of the  

wicked. I must give over this life, and I will give it  

over: by the Lord, and I do not I am a villain, I’ll be  

damned for never a king’s son in Christendom.  


“Hamlet”: Act III, scene I, lines 66-88  

Hamlet: For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,  

When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,  

Must give us pause – there’s the respect  

That makes calamity of so long life.  

For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,  

Th’oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,  

The pangs of dispriz’d love, the law’s delay,  

The insolence of office, and the spurns  

That patient merit of th’unworthy takes  

When he himself might his quietus make  

With a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear,  

To grunt and sweat under a weary life,  

But that the dread of something after death,  

The undiscover’d country, from whose bourn  

No traveller returns, puzzles the will,  

And makes us rather bear those ills we have  

Than fly to others that we know not of?  

Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,  

And thus the native hue of resolution  

Is sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought,  

And enterprises of great pitch and moment  

With this regard their currents turn awry  

And lose the name of action.  


Hamlet: Act III, scene ii, lines 354-363  

Hamlet: I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?  

Guildenstern: My lord, I cannot.  

Hamlet: I pray you.  

Guildenstern: Believe me, I cannot.  

Hamlet: I do beseech you.  

Guildenstern: I know no touch of it, my lord.  

Hamlet: It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages  

with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your  

mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music.  

Look you, these are the stops.  


“Antony and Cleopatra”: Act V, scene ii. lines 240-278  

Guardsman: This is the man  

Cleopatra: Avoid and leave him. Exit Guardsman  

Hast thou the pretty worm of Nilus there  

That kills and pains not?  

Clown: Turly, I have him; but I would not be the party  

that should desire you to touch him, for his biting is 

immortal. Those that do die of it do seldom or never  


Cleopatra: Remember’st thou any that have died on’t?  

Clown: Very many; men and women too. I heard of one  

of them no longer than yesterday – a very honest  

woman, but something given to lie, as a woman should  

not do but in the way of honesty – how she died of the  

biting of it, what pain she felt. Truly, she makes a very  

good report o’th’worm; but he that will believe all  

that they say shall never be saved by half that they do.  

But this is most falliable, the worm’s an odd worm.  

Cleopatra: Get thee hence. Farewell.  

Clown: I wish you all joy of the worm.  

[Sets down his basket.]  

Cleopatra: Farewell.  

Clown: You must think this, look you, that the worm 

will do his kind.  

Cleopatra: Ay, ay. Farewell.  

Clown: Look you, the worm is not to be trusted but in  

the keeping of wise people; for, indeed, there is no  

goodness in the worm.  

Cleopatra: Take thou no care; it shall be heeded.  

Clown: Very good. Give it nothing, I pray you, for it is  

not worth the feeding.  

Cleopatra: Will it eat me?  

Clown: You must not think I am so simple but I know  

the devil himself will not eat a woman. I know that a  

woman is a dis for the gods if the devil dress her not.  

but truly, these same whoreson devils do the gods  

great arm in their women, for in every ten that they  

make, the devils mar five. 

Cleopatra: Well, get thee gone. Farewell.  

Clown: Yes, forsooth. I wish you joy o’th’worm. Exit.  

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