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Flower Quotes in Shakespeare

Updated on March 15, 2015
Jule Romans profile image

Jule Romans has been writing articles and academic papers since the early 1990s. She teaches English at a small rural high school.


About Love...

By the Roses of the spring,
By maidhood, honour, truth, and everything,
I love thee so.

Twelfth Night (Act III, Scene 1)

Translation: I swear by all that is truly beautiful that I love you with my whole self.

Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like a thorn.

Romeo and Juliet (Act I, Scene 4 )

Translation: Love is not tender. It is passionate, intense, and sometimes it causes pain. But love is worth the pain-- usually.

She never told her love,
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek.

Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene 4)

Translation: This lady never expressed her love. By hiding her feelings, she allowed her true expressions to be twisted. This sort of hiding could have ruined her beauty completely.

This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath,
May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.

Romeo and Juliet , (Act II, Scene 2)

Translation: Our deep romance is just beginning. The next time we meet, our love will blossom as a flower does in summer.

A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute.

Hamlet (Act I, Scene 3)

Translation: Infatuation is the same as a short-blooming violet. It appears quickly and is quite sweet and pretty. It fades just as quickly, so do not trust it. Like a violet, it will only last for a very short time.

This thorn doth to our rose of youth rightly belong.

All's Well that Ends Well (Act I, Scene 3)

Translation: Love, with all the troubles and pain it brings, is best experienced when young. Try to always remember what it is like to be young and in love.

But earthlier happy is the Rose distill'd
Than that which withering on the virgin Thorn
Grows, lives, and dies in single blessedness

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Act I, Scene 1)

Translation: It is better to marry and have children than to stay single. The symbol is that a rose that is plucked and used to create perfume is like a woman being married and having a family. She will be happier than a single woman. a single woman is like a rose that lives and dies solely in the garden, on the vine.


Shakespeare Flower Quotes About Beauty...

For women are as Roses, whose fair flower
Being once display'd doth fall that very hour.

Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene 4)

A woman's beauty will not last. As soon as it reaches the highest peak, it will fade.

The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odor which doth in it live.

Sonnet 54

A flower may be pretty, but we admire the rose even more for the scent it produces. Beauty should always be accompanied by honesty and integrity

Say that she frown, I'll say she looks as clear
As morning Roses newly wash'd with dew.

Taming of the Shrew (Act II, Scene 1)

I will contradict my love at every turn. If she is unattractive and grumpy, I will tell her she is beautiful and fresh.

Of Nature's gifts, thou may'st with Lilies boast,
And with the half-blown Rose.

King John (Act III, Scene 1)

You are blessed by nature with true beauty, and only at the beginning of your prime. (A half blown rose is one that has only partially opened.)

I have seen roses damask'd, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks.

Sonnet 130

I have seen beautiful roses, but if I am to be honest, my beloved's cheeks are really not as pretty. I love her for who she is, not for some false comparisons that other poets make. (You must read all of sonnet 130 to truly understand this message)

Flower Quotes in Shakespeare

About Death...

Like the lily,
That once was mistress of the field and flourish'd,
I'll hang my head and perish.

Henry VIII (Act III, Scene 1)

I was once lovely and in control, but like all things, I will sink and pass away.

Death lies on her like an untimely frost
Upon the sweetest flower of the field.

Romeo and Juliet (Act IV, Scene 5)

This sweet young lady has died much too soon. In the same way that the frost can kill a brand new flower, death has taken away her life.

Sweet flower, with flowers thy bridal bed I strew—
O woe! Thy canopy is dust and stones—
Which with sweet water nightly I will dew.

Romeo and Juliet (Act V, Scene 3)

I would have placed these flowers on our bridal bed. Your bed is now the dusty tomb. I will cry here nightly, and water the ground with my tears, the same way that the morning dew falls on flowers and plants.

Lay her i' the earth:
And from her fair and unpolluted flesh
May violets spring!

Hamlet (Act V, Scene 1)

Place her virgin body in the grave. Let her purity enhance the earth and cause it to produce the purest of flowers. You'd need to also understand the meanings of flowers in Shakespeare's time to fully understand this quote.

The purple Violets and Marigolds
Shall, as a carpet, hang upon thy grave
While summer-days do last.

Pericles (Act IV, Scene 1)

As your grave is strewn with flowers, there will be so many of them that hey shall form a thick carpet of gold and purple. (This may also mean that the person who is grieving will faithfully bring flowers for months)

About the appearance of Death

The air hath starved the Roses in her cheeks.

Two Gentlemen of Verona (Act IV, Scene 4)

This is simply a description of a woman turning pale. the roses in her cheeks refer to a healthy flush. If the roses have starved, the rosy color is gone, replaced with pale white.

The Roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade
To paly ashes.

Romeo and Juliet (Act IV, Scene 1)

In this quote, Juliet's face will also turn pale, but pale as ashes because she will seem to be dead. This quote refers to the poison that Juliet will drink to create a false appearance of death and escape to be with Romeo.

Her eyes, like Marigolds, had sheathed their light,
And canopied in darkness sweetly lay,
Till they might open to adorn the day.

Lucrece (Line 397)

Eyes close at night in sleep, like marigolds (and other flowers) that tend to close in the evening and reopen in the morning. This quote does not exactly refer to death directly.


Which "Shakespearean" flower is your favorite?

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Flower Quotes in Shakespeare About Deception

Bear welcome in your eye,
Your hand, your tongue.
Look like th' innocent flower,
But be the serpent under ’t.

Macbeth (Act I Scene 5)

Pretend to be as sweet as a flower. Be ready to strike as quick as a snake that lives underneath the greenery. Be deadly and deceptive.

These blue-veined Violets whereon we lean
Never can blab, nor know not what we mean.

Venus and Adonis (Line 125)

The flowers we are lying on will never tell what has happened her. We meet in secret.

As is the bud bit with an envious worm,
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the sun.

Romeo and Juliet (Act I, Scene 1)

Romeo has eluded his father and his friend. He has avoided answering his questions. Romeo leaves before a conversation can actually begin. He stops the conversation the same way an insect can kill a flowerbud before it gets to bloom.

How now, my love! Why is your cheek so pale?
How chance the Roses there do fade so fast?

Midsummer Night's Dream (Act I, Scene 1)

Context is important in this one. The King of Fairies, Oberon, catches his wife by surprise and asks her why she turns pale. The Queen, Titania, has been hiding something-- more than can be explained here.

Were such things here as we do speak about?
Or have we eaten on the Insane Root
That takes the reason prisoner?

Macbeth (Act I, Scene 3)

Did these things really happen? Is it real, or are we hallucinating? Have we indulged in the flowers and plants and natural drugs, or did the supernatural events occur? This particular quote comes just after the three witches have visited Macbeth and Banquo.

Three Famous Shakespeare Gardens

show route and directions
A markerCentral Park -
Central Park, New York, NY, USA
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Shakespeare Garden

B markerBrooklyn Botanic Garden -
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11238, USA
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Shakespeare Garden Design

C markerVassar college -
Vassar College, 124 Raymond Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12604, USA
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The second-oldest Shakespeare Garden in the US


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