"If Music Be The Food Of Love, Play On"
Context: The ruler of Illyria, Duke Orsino, is in love with Olivia, a young, beautiful, and very wealthy countess who is in mourning for a dead brother. The duke's affection is not requited by the countess, who will not admit his emissary or hear his protestations of love and pleads mourning for her brother as the reason she may not. At the beginning of the play, Duke Orsino is listening to melancholy music as he waits for his messenger to Olivia, Valentine, to return with news from her. (Over 150 years later, in 1775, another English dramatist, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, paraphrased, in The Rivals, this famous quotation thus: "Is not music the food of love?") (In modern times, the phrase "a dying fall" is used by T. S. Eliot in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, l. 52.)
DUKEIf music be the food of love, play on,Give me excess of it; that, surfeiting,The appetite may sicken, and so die.That strain again–it had a dying fall.O, it came o'er my ear, like the sweet soundThat breathes upon a bank of violets,Stealing, and giving odour.. . .