Hamlet. . . . I have of late--but wherefore I know not--lost all my mirth, foregone all custom of exercises; and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition, that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air, look you, this brave o'erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire, why it appeareth nothing to me but a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What [a] piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving, how express and admirable in action, how like an angel in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world; the paragon of animals; and yet to me what is this quintessence of dust ? . . .
(Shakespeare, Hamlet, II.2. 295-308.)
External link: the complete play.
Romantic Circles / Electronic Editions / The Last Man / Quotation: 1.5