Building Inscriptions

The Folger Shakespeare Library is filled with inscriptions of quotations by and about Shakespeare. See the text of inscriptions, to whom they are attributed, and their location outside or inside the Folger Shakespeare Library building.

Exterior Inscriptions

On the front of the building

This therefore is the praise of Shakespeare
That his drama is the mirrour of life.
                SAMUEL JOHNSON

His wit can no more lie hid,
    Then it could be lost.
Reade hime, therefore; and againe, and againe.

Thou art a monument, without a tombe,
And art alive still, while thy books doth live,
And we have wits to read, and praise to give.
                BEN JONSON

On the west side of the building

For Wisdomes sake, a word that all men love.
                LOVE’S LABOUR’S LOST

On the fountain

Lord, what fools these mortals be!

Interior Inscriptions

West vestibule, over the door to the Great Hall

I shower a welcome on ye; welcome all.
                 SHAKESPEARE, Henry VIII, Act 1, Sc. 4

West vestibule, over the entrance to the west corridor

What needs my Shakespeare for his honor’d bones
The labor of an age in piled stones?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
                JOHN MILTON

Over the door, west end of Great Hall

There is not anything of human trial
That ever love deplored or sorrow knew,
No glad fulfilment and no sad denial,
Beyond the pictured truth that Shakespeare drew.
                WILLIAM WINTER

Over the door, east end of Great Hall

Thrice happy the nation that Shakespeare has charm’d
More happy the bosoms his genius has warm’d!
Ye children of nature, of fashion, and whim,
He painted you all, all join to praise him.
                DAVID GARRICK

In the Reading Room, at the west end

I do not remember          
That any book or           
Person or event ever     
Produced so great           
An effect on me as           
Shakespeare’s plays.     

Shakespeare is fertility,
Force, exuberance, no
Reticence, no binding,
No economy, the
Inordinate and tranquil
Prodigality of the creator.

In the Reading Room, over the fireplace

England’s genius filled all measure
Of heart and soul, of strength and pleasure,
Gave to the mind its emperor,
And life was larger than before:
Nor sequent centuries could hit
Orbit and sum of Shakespeare’s wit.
The men who lived with him became
Poets, for the air was fame.
                 RALPH WALDO EMERSON

At the east end of the Reading Room

There is a replica of the Memorial to Shakespeare in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon.  The inscription on the tablet below the bust, as in the original at Stratford, reads:

Indicio Pylium, genio Socraten, arto Maronem,
Terra tegit, populus maeret, Olympus habet.

Pylius for his judgement, Socrates for his intellects, Maro for his poetry--
The earth covers him, the people mourn him, Olympus holds him.

Stay, Passenger, why goest thou by so fast?
Read if thou canst, whom envious death hast plast,
Within this monument: Shakespeare: with whome,
Quick Nature dide: whose name, doth deck ys Tombe,
Far more, than cost: sich all yt He hast writt,
Leaves living art, but page, to serve his witt.
Obiit ano Doi 1616
A tatis. 53 Die 23 Aps.