Love's Labor's Lost "Love, First Learned In A Lady's Eyes"

William Shakespeare

"Love, First Learned In A Lady's Eyes"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: At the beginning of the play, several lords attending the King of Navarre agree to take an oath with him to engage in serious study and to abstain from any sort of contact with women for three years. One lord, Berowne, expresses doubt over the wisdom of the latter part of the vow but agrees to it since the others do. As the play progresses, all of the men, including the king, come into unavoidable contact with the Princess of France and her court of ladies. All fall in love but seek to hide the fact from one another. Berowne, however, reveals their amorous longings publicly after overhearing each one read a love letter. Always prone to philosophize, he takes the opportunity to point out that love is an excellent teacher because it makes a person sensitive to the beauty and delicacy of the world around him. Furthermore, he says, it is a woman who teaches a man to love.


BEROWNE
. . .
Other slow arts entirely keep the brain,
And therefore finding barren practisers,
Scarce show a harvest of their heavy toil.
But love, first learned in a lady's eyes,
Lives not alone immured in the brain,
But with the motion of all elements,
Courses as swift as thought in every power,
And gives to every power a double power
Above their functions and their offices.
. . .