O, then we bring forth weeds, when our quick minds lie still

From Antony and Cleopatra (2.1.94-95), a note to myself as I begin a long holiday:

O, then we bring forth weeds,
When our quick minds lie still

And some other Shakespearean uses of weed/weeds as the noun in its not-clothes sense. It is not a favorite but is certainly a repeated metaphor:

Henry IV pt. II – 4.4:


Most subject is the fattest soil to weeds

Henry VI pt. II – 3.1:

Now ’tis the spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now, and they’ll o’ergrow the garden
And choke the herbs for want of husbandry.

Measure for Measure – 1.3:

We have strict statutes and most biting laws.
The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
Which for this nineteen years we have let slip;
Even like an o’ergrown lion in a cave,
That goes not out to prey.

Rape of Lucrece – 920-926:

‘Unruly blasts wait on the tender spring;
Unwholesome weeds take root with precious flowers;
The adder hisses where the sweet birds sing;
What virtue breeds iniquity devours:
We have no good that we can say is ours,
But ill-annexed Opportunity
Or kills his life or else his quality.

Richard II 3.4:

I will go root away
The noisome weeds, which without profit suck
The soil’s fertility from wholesome flowers.

Richard III 2.4:

‘Small herbs have grace, great weeds do grow apace:’
And since, methinks, I would not grow so fast,
Because sweet flowers are slow and weeds make haste.

Hamlet 1.5:

I find thee apt;
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this.

Henry V 4.1:

For our bad neighbour makes us early stirrers,
Which is both healthful and good husbandry:
Besides, they are our outward consciences,
And preachers to us all, admonishing
That we should dress us fairly for our end.
Thus may we gather honey from the weed,
And make a moral of the devil himself.


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