I have read many questions and answers about Shakespeare in eNotes, but I don't remember seeing a single reference to the beauty of the language in his plays. Even in discussions of his sonnets, for that matter, the emphasis is on something other than the beauty of the language (e.g., What does this word mean? Whom is he addressing?). I have answered a lot of questions about the plays and sonnets but have never been able to quote Shakespeare at any length because eNotes has restrictions about the proportion of quotes to original text. But perhaps in this discussion I might offer a few examples of the amazing poetry that appears here and there in his plays.
I will start with Othello, which is not one of my favorite plays. He comes into the bedroom with the intention of murdering the sleeping Desdemona.
Put out the light, and then put out the light.
If I quench thee, thou flaming minister,
I can again thy former light restore,
Should I repent me; but once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume. When I have plucked the rose,
I cannot give it vital growth again;
It needs must wither. I'll smell it on the tree.
O balmy breath, that dost almost persuade
Justice to break her sword!
Methought I heard a voice cry "Sleep no more!
Macbeth does murder sleep" -- the innocent sleep,
Sleep that knits up the raveled sleave of care,
The death of each day's life, sore labor's bath,
Balm of hurt minds, great nature's second course,
Chief nourisher in life's feast.
Still it cried "Sleep no more!" to all the house.
"Glamas hath murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more."
Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuffed bosom of that perilous stuff
Which weighs upon the heart?
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
You do me wrong to take me out o' the grave:
Thou art a soul in bliss; but I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
There's something in his soul,
O'er which his melancholy sits on brood,
And I do doubt the hatch and the disclose
Will be some danger.
O pardon me, thou bleeding piece of earth,
That I am meek and gentle with these butchers.
Thou art the ruins of the noblest man
That ever lived in the tide of times.
Woe to the hand that shed this costly blood!
Over thy wounds now do I prophesy --
A curse shall light upon the limbs of men;
Domestic fury and fierce civil strife
Shall cumber all the parts of Italy;
Blood and destruction shall be so in use,
And dreadful objects so familiar,
That mothers shall but smile when they behold
Their infants quartered with the hands of war,
All pity choked with custom of fell deeds;
And Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge,
With Ate by his side come hot from hell,
Shall in these confines with a monarch's voice
Cry "havoc!" and let slip the dogs of war,
That this foul deed shall smell above the earth
With carrion men, groaning for burial.
Nay, if you read this line, remember not
The hand that writ it, for I love you so,
That I in thy sweet thoughts would be forgot,
If thinking on me then should make you woe.
Full fathom five thy father lies.
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, -- and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate...
Why is there such a strong focus on reading Shakespeare?