The quotation is from Act V Scene 3 of King Lear, the last scene of the play. Lear and Cordelia have been captured by the English forces after their defeat in battle. Cordelia wants to confront her sisters. Lear says:
“No, no, no, no! Come, let’s away to prison.
We two alone will sing like birds i’ th’ cage.
When thou dost ask me blessing, I’ll kneel down
And ask of thee forgiveness. So we’ll live,
And pray, and sing, and tell old tales, and laugh
At gilded butterflies, and hear poor rogues
Talk of court news; and we’ll talk with them too-
Who loses and who wins; who’s in, who’s out-
And take upon ‘s the mystery of things,
As if we were God’s spies; and we’ll wear out,
In a wall’d prison, packs and sects of great ones
That ebb and flow by th’ moon.”
Fairly curious that Megan Fox tattooed that line onto her back/shoulder.
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_did_Shakespeare_mean_by_’We_will_all_laugh_at_gilded_butterflies’ has a great explanation of the line.
Indeed agree that gold coated butterflies is a very apt description laced with innuendo. Butterflies are light and pretty and colorful, gilding them makes them paradoxically heavier/unable to fly/flit, hides their great color, and destroys what makes them what they are. Good line.
King Lear. hm. I ought to read it.
Once upon a time, we thought Shakespeare was ‘roll-eyes’ ‘twilight-esque’ literature.