How to Kiss, According to Shakespeare
Kissing is pretty neat. Let’s not dive too deeply into the haunted crypt that is my love life, but suffice it to say I have kissed a person or two in my time. No one's good at it right away; it takes practice. Learning to kiss is like learning to ride a bike. You have no clue what you’re doing, you’re nervous, your hands are sweaty, and the whole time you’re just hoping for the best while hurtling through the unknowable void.
But if there’s anyone who can teach the masses how the navigate the forbidden and inexplicable witchcraft also known as "kissing," it’s William Shakespeare.
When you’re going in for the kiss but you panic at the last minute:
"I…kiss the tender inward of thy hand."
When you're trying to resist the urge to say "thank you" after they kiss you (I mean, you've seen THAT episode of Gilmore Girls), but you’re not sure what else to say so instead you go with:
"What's done, is done."
—Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 2
When you’re having one last make-out session before you both go off to separate colleges:
"Thus with a kiss I die."
—Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 3
When you have no idea how to flirt:
"You have witchcraft in your lips."
—Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2
When you’re going in for a second kiss:
“Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.”
—Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5
When you’re telling your friend all about it later:
"I know a lady in Venice would have walked barefoot to Palestine for a touch of his nether lip."
—Othello, Act 4, Scene 3
When you STILL have no idea how to flirt:
"O Helena, goddess, nymph, perfect, divine! To what, my love, shall I compare thine eyne? Crystal is muddy. O, how ripe in show Thy lips, those kissing cherries, tempting grow!"
—A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2
When their breath is so pungent you can practically physically see it:
"Mine eyes smell onions."
—All’s Well that Ends Well, Act 5, Scene 3
When he’s a good kisser but he’s two months younger than you:
"He wears the rose of youth upon him."
—Antony and Cleopatra, Act 3, Scene 13
When they’re such a good kisser that you've only been on one date but you're already planning a future:
"Kiss me, Kate, we shall be married o’Sunday"
—The Taming of the Shrew, Act 2, Scene 7
When you can’t believe they’re kissing you because they’re so unbelievably hot:
"You are too hot."
—Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 5
When your crush finally kisses you and it’s just, you know, it's not great:
"What made me love thee?"
—Merry Wives of Windsor, Act 3, Scene 3
When you want to critique their tongue technique but you don’t want to completely ruin the mood:
"Love hath made thee a tame snake."
—As You Like It, Act 4, Scene 2
When you’re doing some serious PDA and there are people around, and you can hear them judging you:
"He took the bride about the neck and kissed her lips with such a clamorous smack that at the parting all the church did echo."
—The Taming of the Shrew, Act 3, Scene 2
When the kiss is really boring:
"You kiss by th’ book."
—Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 5
When he asks to kiss your hand, which you find kind of weird because what is this, the eighteenth century? So you’re going to make it weirder.
"O, let me kiss that hand!"
"Let me wipe it first; it smells of mortality."
—King Lear, Act 4, Scene 6
When Kate doesn’t want to kiss you and you can't, for the life of you, figure out why:
"Why, there's a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate."
—The Taming of the Shrew, Act 5, Scene 2
This post was originally published in August 2016