Shakespeare’s Narrative Sources: Italian Novellas and Their European Dissemination

Brooke - Modernised edition


                       THE TRAGICAL HISTORY

                     of Romeus and Juliet , written

                        first in Italian by Bandell,

                          and now in English by

                                      Ar. Br.



                      In aedibus Richardi Tottelli.

                                    Cum Privilegio.





















































                              To the Reader.

The God of all glory created universally all creatures, to set

forth his praise, both those which we esteem profitable in

use and pleasure, and also those, which we account

noisome, and loathsome. But principally he hath appointed

man, the chiefest instrument of his honour, not only for

ministering matter thereof in man himself, but as well in

gathering out of other the occasions of publishing God’s

goodness, wisdom, and power. And in like sort, every doing

of man hath by God’s dispensation something, whereby

God may, and ought to be honoured. So the good doings of

the good, and the evil acts of the wicked, the happy success

of the blessed, and the woeful proceedings of the miserable,

do in divers sort sound one praise of God. And as each

flower yieldeth honey to the bee, so every example

ministreth good lessons to the well-disposed mind. The

glorious triumph of the continent man upon the lusts of

wanton flesh, encourageth men to honest restraint of wild

affections the shameful and wretched ends of such as have

yielded their liberty thrall to foul desires, teach men to

withhold themselves from the headlong fall of loose

dishonesty. So, to like effect, by sundry means, the good

man’s example biddeth men to be good, and the evil man’s

mischief warneth men not to be evil. To this good end,

serve all ill ends of ill beginnings. And to this end (good

Reader) is this tragical matter written, to describe unto thee

a couple of unfortunate lovers, thralling themselves to

unhonest desire, neglecting the authority and advice of

parents and friends, conferring their principal counsels

with drunken gossips, and superstitious friars (the

naturally fit instruments of unchastity) attempting all

adventures of peril, for the attaining of their wished lust

 using auricular confession (the key of whoredom, and

treason) for furtherance of their purpose, abusing the

honourable name of lawful marriage, to cloak the shame of

stolen contracts, finally, by all means of unhonest life,

 hasting to most unhappy death. This precedent (good

Reader) shall be to thee, as the slaves of Lacedaemon,

oppressed with excess of drink, deformed and altered from

likeness of men, both in mind, and use of body, were to the

free born children, so showed to them by their parents to

the intent to raise in them an hateful loathing of so filthy

beastliness. Hereunto if you apply it, you shall deliver my

doing from offence, and profit yourselves. Though I saw

the same argument lately set forth on stage with more

commendation than I can look for (being there much better

set forth then I have or can do), yet the same matter penned

as it is, may serve to like good effect, if the readers do bring

with them like good minds, to consider it. Which hath the

more encouraged me to publish it, such as it is.      Ar. Br.

Verse address to the






































                              To the Reader.

   Amid the desert rocks, the mountain bear,

   Brings forth unformed, unlike herself her young:

   Nought else but lumps of flesh withouten hair,

   In tract of time, her often licking tongue

Gives them such shape, as doth (ere long) delight

   The lookers on: Or when one dog doth shake

   With muzzled mouth, the joints too weak to fight.

   Or when upright he standeth by his stake,

(A noble crest) or wild in savage wood,

    A dozen dogs one holdeth at a bay,

   With gaping mouth, and stained jaws with blood,

   Or else, when from the farthest heavens, they

The lodestar are, the weary pilots mark,

   In storms to guide to haven the tossed bark.

                                                      Right so my muse

   Hath (now at length) with travail long brought forth

   Her tender whelps, her divers kinds of style,

   Such as they are, or nought, or little worth,

   Which careful travail, and a longer while,

May better shape. The eldest of them lo,

   I offer to the stake, my youthful work,

   Which one reproachful mouth might overthrow:

   The rest (unlicked as yet) a while shall lurk,

Till time give strength, to meet and match in fight

   With slanders whelps. Then shall they tell of strife

   Of noble triumphs, and deeds of martial might,

  And shall give rules of chaste and honest life.

The while I pray that you with favour blame,

   Or rather not reprove the laughing game

                                                Of this my muse.

Prose address to the





















Love hath inflaméd twain by sudden sight,

   And both do grant the thing that both desire

   They wed in shrift by counsel of a friar.

   Young Romeus climbs fair Juliet’s bower by night.

Three months he doth enjoy his chief delight.

   By Tybalt’s rage provokéd unto ire,

   He payeth death to Tybalt for his hire.

   A banished man he ’scapes by secret flight.

New marriage is offered to his wife.

   She drinks a drink that seems to reave her breath:

   They bury her that sleeping yet hath life.

   Her husband hears the tidings of her death.

         He drinks his bane. And she with Romeus’ knife,

         When she awakes, herself, alas, she slay’th.










[R&J-Q2:Chorus 1]






























There is beyond the Alps,

         a town of ancient fame,

Whose bright renown yet shineth clear:

         Verona men it name;

   Built in a happy time,

         built on a fertile soil,

Maintained by the heavenly fates,

         and by the townish toil

   The fruitful hills above,

         the pleasant vales below,

The silver stream with channel deep,

         that through the town doth flow,

   The store of springs that serve

         for use, and eke for ease,

And other more commodities,

         which profit may and please,

   Eke many certain signs

         of things betid of old,

To fill the hungry eyes of those

         that curiously behold,

    Do make this town to be

         preferred above the rest

Of Lombard towns, or at the least,

         compared with the best.

    In which while Escalus

         as prince alone did reign,

To reach reward unto the good,

         to pay the lewd with pain,

1. Description of






















   Alas, I rue to think,

         an heavy hap befell:

Which Boccace scant, not my rude tongue,

         were able forth to tell.

Within my trembling hand,

         my pen doth shake for fear,

And, on my cold amazéd head,

         upright doth stand my hair.

But sith she doth command,

         whose hest I must obey,

In mourning verse, a woeful chance

         to tell I will assay.

2. The narrator

introduces the woeful

story he is about to

tell. He feels unequal

to his writing task.


















   Help, learnéd Pallas, help,

         ye Muses with your art,

Help, all ye damnéd fiends to tell

         of joys returned to smart.

   Help eke, ye sisters three,

         my skilless pen t’indite:

For you it caused which I, alas,

         unable am to write.

3. Invocation to several deities.






































   There were two ancient stocks,

         which Fortune high did place

Above the rest, indued with wealth,

         and nobler of their race,

   Loved of the common sort,

         loved of the prince alike,

And like unhappy were they both,

         when Fortune list to strike;

   Whose praise, with equal blast,

         Fame in her trumpet blew;

The one was clepéd Capulet,

         and th’other Montague.

   A wonted use it is,

         that men of likely sort,

(I wot not by what fury forced)

         envy each other’s port.

   So these, whose equal state

         bred envy pale of hue,

And then, of grudging envy’s root,

         black hate and rancour grew

   As, of a little spark,

         oft riseth mighty fire,

So of a kindled spark of grudge,

         in flames flash out their ire.

   And then their deadly food,

         first hatched of trifling strife,

Did bathe in blood of smarting wounds;

         it reavéd breath and life,

   No legend lie I tell,

         scarce yet their eyes be dry,

That did behold the grisly sight,

         with wet and weeping eye.

4. The old grudge

between the two











[R&J-Q2:Chorus 1]






















   But when the prudent prince,

         who there the sceptre held,

So great a new disorder in

         his commonweal beheld;

   By gentle mean he sought,

         their choler to assuage;

And by persuasion to appease,

         their blameful furious rage.

   But both his words and time,

         the prince hath spent in vain:

So rooted was the inward hate,

         he lost his busy pain.

   When friendly sage advice,

         ne gentle words avail,

By thund’ring threats, and princely power

         their courage ’gan he quail

   In hope that when he had

         the wasting flame supprest,

In time he should quite quench the sparks

         that burned within their breast.

5. The Prince’s









































   Now whilst these kindreds do

         remain in this estate,

And each with outward friendly show

         doth hide his inward hate:

   One Romeus, who was

         of race a Montague,

Upon whose tender chin, as yet,

         no manlike beard there grew,

   Whose beauty and whose shape

         so far the rest did stain,

That from the chief of Verona youth

         he greatest fame did gain,

   Hath found a maid so fair

          (he found so foul his hap),

Whose beauty, shape, and comely grace,

         did so his heart entrap

   That from his own affairs,

         his thought she did remove;

Only he sought to honour her,

         to serve her and to love.

   To her he writeth oft,

         of messengers are sent,

At length, in hope of better speed,

         himself the lover went,

   Present to plead for grace,

         which absent was not found:

And to discover to her eye

         his new receivéd wound.

6. Presentation of

Romeus and his love

for a Veronese girl.


























   But she that from her youth

         was fostered evermore

With virtue’s food, and taught in school

         of wisdom’s skilful lore

   By answer did cut off

         th’affections of his love,

That he no more occasion had

         so vain a suit to move.

   So stern she was of cheer,

         for all the pain he took,

That, in reward of toil, she would

         not give a friendly look.

   And yet how much she did

         with constant mind retire;

7. Romeus’ beloved

one: her chastity and














































So much the more his fervent mind

         was pricked forth by desire.

   But when he many months,

         hopeless of his recure,

Had servéd her, who forcéd not

         what pains he did endure,

   At length he thought to leave

         Verona, and to prove

If change of place might change away

         his ill-bestowéd love;

   And speaking to himself,

         thus ’gan he make his moan:

“What booteth me to love and serve

         a fell, unthankful one,

   Sith that my humble suit

         and labour sowed in vain,

Can reap none other fruit at all

         but scorn and proud disdain?

   What way she seeks to go,

         the same I seek to run,

But she the path wherein I tread,

         with speedy flight doth shun.

   I cannot live, except

         that near to her I be;

She is aye best content when she

         is farthest off from me.

   Wherefore henceforth I will

         far from her take my flight;

Perhaps mine eye once banished

         by absence from her sight,

   This fire of mine, that by

         her pleasant eyne is fed,

Shall little and little wear away,

         and quite at last be dead.”

8. Romeus suffers

unrequited love and

wishes to leave






























   But whilst he did decree

         this purpose still to keep,

A contrary, repugnant thought

         sank in his breast so deep,

   That doubtful is he now

         which of the twain is best:

In sighs, in tears, in plaint, in care,

         in sorrow and unrest,

   He moans the day, he wakes

         the long and weary night;

So deep hath love with piercing hand,

         ygraved her beauty bright

   Within his breast, and hath

         so mastered quite his heart,

That he of force must yield as thrall,

         no way is left to start.

   He cannot stay his step,

         but forth still must he run;

He languisheth and melts away,

         as snow against the sun.

9. Romeus is torn

between opposite

alternatives, and is

prey of despair.















   His kindred and allies

         do wonder what he ails,

And each of them in friendly wise

         his heavy hap bewails.

10. His friends are

worried about him.



























































































   But one among the rest,

         the trustiest of his feres,

Far more than he with counsel filled,

         and riper of his years,

   ’Gan sharply him rebuke,

         such love to him he bare,

That he was fellow of his smart,

         and partner of his care.

    “What mean’st thou, Romeus,”

         quoth he, “what doting rage

Doth make thee thus consume away

         the best part of thine age,

   In seeking her that scorns,

         and hides her from thy sight,

Not forcing all thy great expense,

         ne yet thy honour bright,

   Thy tears, thy wretched life,

         ne thine unspotted truth,

Which are of force, I ween, to move

         the hardest heart to ruth?

   Now for our friendship’s sake,

         and for thy health, I pray,

That thou henceforth become thine own.

         Oh, give no more away

   Unto a thankless wight

         thy precious free estate;

In that thou lovest such a one,

         thou seem’st thyself to hate.

   For she doth love elsewhere,

         and then thy time is lorn,

Or else (what booteth thee to sue?)

         Love’s court she hath forsworn.

   Both young thou art of years,

         and high in Fortune’s grace:

What man is better shaped than thou?

         Who hath a sweeter face?

   By painful studies’ mean,

         great learning hast thou won;

Thy parents have none other heir,

         thou art their only son.

   What greater grief, trow’st thou,

         what woeful deadly smart

Should so be able to distrain

         thy seely father’s heart,

   As in his age to see

         thee plungéd deep in vice,

When greatest hope he hath to hear

         thy virtue’s fame arise?

   What shall thy kinsmen think,

         thou cause of all their ruth?

Thy deadly foes do laugh to scorn

         thy ill-employéd youth.

   Wherefore my counsel is,

         that thou henceforth begin

To know and fly the error which

         too long thou livedst in.

   Remove the veil of love,

         that keeps thine eyes so blind,

That thou ne canst the ready path

         of thy forefathers find.

   But if unto thy will

         so much in thrall thou art,

Yet in some other place bestow

         thy witless wand’ring heart.

   Choose out some worthy dame,

          her honour thou and serve,

Who will give ear to thy complaint,

         and pity ere thou starve.

   But sow no more thy pains

         in such a barren soil,

As yields in harvest time no crop,

         in recompense of toil.

   Ere long the townish dames

         together will resort;

Some one of beauty, favour, shape,

         and of so lovely port,

   With so fast fixéd eye,

         perhaps thou may’st behold,

That thou shalt quite forget thy love,

         and passions past of old.”

11. A close friend

rebukes him and urges

him to look at other

young ladies.


































   The young man’s listening ear

         received the wholesome sound,

And reason’s truth y-planted so,

         within his head had ground;

   That now with healthy cool

         y-tempered is the heat,

And piecemeal wears away the grief

         that erst his heart did fret.

   To his approved friend

         a solemn oath he plight,

At every feast y-kept by day,

         and banquet made by night,

   At pardons in the church,

         at games in open street,

And everywhere he would resort

         where ladies wont to meet;

   Eke should his savage heart

         like all indifferently,

For he would view and judge them all

         with unalluréd eye.

12. Romeus follows his

friend’s advice and

starts to attend feasts

and parties.
















   How happy had he been,

         had he not been forsworn;

But twice as happy had he been,

         had he been never born.

   For ere the moon could thrice

         her wasted horns renew,

False Fortune cast for him, poor wretch,

         a mischief new to brew.

13. The narrator

comments on Romeus’



























   The weary winter nights

         restore the Christmas games,

And now the season doth invite

         to banquet townish dames.

   And first in Capel’s house,

         the chief of all the kin

Spar’th for no cost, the wonted use

         of banquets to begin.

   No lady fair or foul

         was in Verona town,

No knight or gentleman

         of high or low renown,

   But Capulet himself

         hath bid unto his feast,

Or by his name in paper sent,

         appointed as a geast.

   Young damsels thither flock,

         of bachelors a rout,

Not so much for the banquet’s sake,

         as beauties to search out.

14. Capulet’s feast at


























   But not a Montague

         would enter at his gate,

(For as you heard, the Capulets

         and they were at debate)

   Save Romeus, and he,

         in mask with hidden face,

The supper done, with other five

         did press into the place.

   When they had masked awhile,

         with dames in courtly wise,

All did unmask, the rest did show

         them to their ladies’ eyes;

15. No Montague is

admitted to the feast.

Yet Romeus and five

more go there masked.

At some point they

take off their masks.

















   But bashful Romeus

         with shamefast face forsook,

The open press, and him withdrew

         into the chamber’s nook.

16. Romeus withdraws

to a secluded part of

the room.





















   But brighter than the sun,

         the waxen torches shone,

That maugre what he could, he was

         espied of everyone.

   But of the women chief,

         their gazing eyes that threw,

To wonder at his sightly shape

         and beauty’s spotless hue,

   With which the heavens him had

         and nature so bedecked,

That ladies thought the fairest dames

         were foul in his respect.

17. Romeus’ beauty is

gazed upon by all















































   And in their head beside,

         another wonder rose,

How he durst put himself in throng

         among so many foes.

   Of courage stout they thought

         his coming to proceed:

And women love an hardy heart,

         as I in stories read.

   The Capulets disdain

         the presence of their foe,

Yet they suppress their stirréd ire,

         the cause I do not know:

   Perhaps t’offend their guests

         the courteous knights are loth,

Perhaps they stay from sharp revenge,

         dreading the Prince’s wroth.

   Perhaps for that they shamed

         to exercise their rage

Within their house, ’gainst one alone,

         and him of tender age.

   They use no taunting talk,

         ne harm him by their deed;

They neither say, “What mak’st thou here?”

         ne yet they say, “God speed.”

   So that he freely might

         the ladies view at ease;

And they also beholding him,

         their change of fancies please;

   Which Nature had him taught

         to do with such a grace,

That there was none but joyéd at

         his being there in place.

   With upright beam he weighed

         the beauty of each dame,

And judged who best, and who next her,

         was wrought in Nature’s frame.

18. Everybody

wonders about his

boldness, but no one

dares to challenge

him. The narrator

wonders why.

Everybody gazes on

him, and Romeo

judges all the beauties.
























   At length he saw a maid,

         right fair, of perfect shape,

Which Theseus or Paris would

         have chosen to their rape.

   Whom erst he never saw;

         of all she pleased him most;

Within himself he said to her,

          “Thou justly may’st thee boast

   Of perfect shape’s renown,

         and beauty’s sounding praise,

Whose like ne hath, ne shall be seen,

         ne liveth in our days.”

19. Romeus sees a fair

maid and falls in love.



























   And whilst he fixed on her

         his partial piercéd eye,

His former love, for which of late

         he ready was to die,

   Is now as quite forgot,

         as it had never been:

The proverb saith, “Unminded oft

         are they that are unseen.”

   And as out of a plank

         a nail a nail doth drive,

So novel love out of the mind

         the ancient love doth rive.

   This sudden kindled fire

         in time is wox so great,

That only death and both their bloods

         might quench the fiery heat.

20. Romeus forgets

about his former

beloved one. The

narrator comments on

his sudden change and

the new kindled love

with proverbial



































   When Romeus saw himself

         in this new tempest tossed,

Where both was hope of pleasant port,

         and danger to be lost,

   He doubtful, scarcely knew

         what countenance to keep;

In Lethe’s flood his wonted flames

         were quenched and drenchéd deep.

   Yea, he forgets himself,

         ne is the wretch so bold

To ask her name, that without force

         hath him in bondage fold.

   Ne how t’unloose his bonds

         doth the poor fool devise,

But only seeketh by her sight

         to feed his hungry eyes:

   Through them he swalloweth down

         love’s sweet empoisoned bait:

How surely are the wareless wrapt

         by those that lie in wait!

   So is the poison spread

         throughout his bones and veins,

That in a while, alas, the while,

         it hasteth deadly pains.

21. Romeus feels as in

a tempest tossed and

does not dare to ask

her name. He tries to

follow her by sight,

and is poisoned by her










































   Whilst Juliet, for so

         this gentle damsel hight,

From side to side on every one

         did cast about her sight:

   At last her floating eyes

         were anchored fast on him,

Who for her sake did banish health

         and freedom from each limb.

      He in her sight did seem

         to pass the rest as far

As Phoebus’ shining beams do pass

         the brightness of a star.

   In wait lay warlike Love

         with golden bow and shaft,

And to his ear with steady hand

         the bowstring up he raft.

   Till now she had escaped

         his sharp inflaming dart,

Till now he listed not assault

         her young and tender heart.

   His whetted arrow loosed,

         so touched her to the quick,

That through the eye it strake the heart,

         and there the head did stick.

   It booted not to strive,

         for why, she wanted strength;

The weaker aye unto the strong

         of force must yield, at length.

   The pomps now of the feast

         her heart ’gins to despise;

And only joyeth when her eyne

         meet with her lover’s eyes.

22. Juliet sees Romeus

and is pierced by

Cupid’s arrow (the

power of sight).


















   When their new smitten hearts

         had fed on loving gleams,

Whilst, passing to and fro their eyes,

         y-mingled were their beams.

   Each of these lovers ’gan

         by other’s looks to know,

That friendship in their breast had root,

         and both would have it grow.

23. The two youths

look at each other for

a while and become

aware of mutual love.





















   When thus in both their hearts

         had Cupid made his breach

And each of them had sought the mean

         to end the war by speech,

   Dame Fortune did assent

         their purpose to advance,

With torch in hand a comely knight

         did fetch her forth to dance;

   She quit herself so well,

         and with so trim a grace,

That she the chief praise won that night

         from all Verona race.

24. Juliet is invited to





























   The whilst our Romeus

         a place had warely won,

Nigh to the seat where she must sit,

         the dance once being done.

   Fair Juliet turned to

         her chair with pleasant cheer,

And glad she was her Romeus

         approachéd was so near.

   At th’one side of her chair

         her lover Romeo,

And on the other side there sat

         one called Mercutio;

   A courtier that each where

         was highly had in price,

For he was courteous of his speech,

         and pleasant of device.

   Even as a lion would

         among the lambs be bold,

Such was among the bashful maids

         Mercutio to behold.

25. Romeus places

himself close to her

seat, and on the other

side there sits

Mercutio, a courteous

















   With friendly gripe he seized

         fair Juliet’s snowish hand:

A gift he had that Nature gave

         him in his swathing band,

   That frozen mountain ice

         was never half so cold,

As were his hands, though ne’er so near

         the fire he did them hold.

26. Juliet’s right hand

is seized by Mercutio’s

cold hand.

















   As soon as had the knight

         the virgin’s right hand raught,

Within his trembling hand her left

         hath loving Romeus caught.

   For he wist well himself

         for her abode most pain,

And well he wist she loved him best,

         unless she list to feign.

27. Juliet’s left hand is

seized by Romeus.

Emotion prevents him

from talking to her.































































































   Then she with tender hand

         his tender palm hath pressed;

What joy, trow you, was grafféd so

         in Romeus’ cloven breast

   The sudden sweet delight

         hath stoppéd quite his tongue,

Ne can he claim of her his right,

         ne crave redress of wrong.

   But she espied straightway,

         by changing of his hue

From pale to red, from red to pale,

         and so from pale anew,

   That veh’ment love was cause,

         why so his tongue did stay,

And so much more she longed to hear

         what Love could teach him say.

   When she had longéd long,

         and he long held his peace,

And her desire of hearing him,

         by silence did increase,

   At last, with trembling voice

         and shamefast cheer, the maid

Unto her Romeus turned herself,

         and thus to him she said:

    “O blesséd be the time

         of thy arrival here”:

But ere she could speak forth the rest,

         to her Love drew so near

   And so within her mouth,

         her tongue he gluéd fast,

That no one word could ’scape her more

         than what already passed.

   In great contented ease

         the young man straight is rapt:

“What chance”, quoth he, “un’ware to me,

         O lady mine, is hapt,

   That gives you worthy cause

         my coming here to bliss?”

Fair Juliet was come again

         unto herself by this:

   First ruthfully she looked,

         then said with smiling cheer:

“Marvel no whit, my heart’s delight,

         my only knight and fere,

   Mercutio’s icy hand had

         all-to frozen mine,

And of thy goodness thou again

         hast warmed it with thine.”

   Whereto with stayéd brow,

         ’gan Romeus to reply:

“If so the gods have granted me

         such favour from the sky,

   That by my being here

         some service I have done

That pleaseth you, I am as glad,

         as I a realm had won.

   O well-bestowéd time,

         that hath the happy hire,

Which I would wish, if I might have,

         my wishéd heart’s desire.

   For I of God would crave,

         as price of pains forepast,

To serve, obey, and honour you,

         so long as life shall last;

   As proof shall teach you plain,

         if that you like to try

His faultless truth, that nill for aught

         unto his lady lie.

   But if my touched hand

         have warmed yours some deal,

   Assure yourself the heat is cold,

         which in your hand you feel,

Compared to such quick sparks

         and glowing furious glead,

As from your beauty’s pleasant eyne,

         Love causéd to proceed;

   Which have so set on fire

         each feeling part of mine,

That lo, my mind doth melt away,

         my outward parts do pine.

   And but you help, all whole,

         to ashes shall I turn;

Wherefore, alas, have ruth on him,

         whom you do force to burn.”

28. Juliet presses

Romeus’ palm. When

she sees him blush,

she spurns him on to

speak. Roméo declares

his love.
























   Even with his ended tale,

         the torches’ dance had end,

And Juliet of force must part

         from her new chosen friend.

   His hand she clasped hard,

         and all her parts did shake,

When leisureless with whisp’ring voice

         thus did she answer make:

    “You are no more your own,

         dear friend, than I am yours,

My honour savéd, pressed t’obey

         your will, while life endures.”

29. They must part but

Juliet declares her love

and acknowledges

Romeus’ own.



















   Lo, here the lucky lot

         that seld true lovers find,

Each takes away the other’s heart,

         and leaves the own behind.

   A happy life is love,

         if God grant from above,

That heart with heart by even weight

         do make exchange of love.

30. The narrator

comments on happy

love when blessed by



















































   But Romeus gone from her,

         his heart for care is cold;

He hath forgot to ask her name

         that hath his heart in hold.

   With forgéd careless cheer,

         of one he seeks to know,

Both how she hight, and whence she came,

         that him enchanted so.

   So hath he learned her name,

         and know’th she is no geast,

Her father was a Capulet,

         and master of the feast.

   Thus hath his foe in choice

         to give him life or death,

That scarcely can his woeful breast

         keep in the lively breath.

   Wherefore with piteous plaint

         fierce Fortune doth he blame,

That in his ruth and wretched plight

         doth seek her laughing game.

   And he reproveth Love,

         chief cause of his unrest,

Who ease and freedom hath exiled

         out of his youthful breast.

   Twice hath he made him serve,

         hopeless of his reward;

Of both the ills to choose the less,

         I ween the choice were hard.

   First to a ruthless one

         he made him sue for grace,

And now with spur he forceth him

         to run an endless race.

   Amid these stormy seas

         one anchor doth him hold,

He serveth not a cruel one,

         as he had done of old.

   And therefore is content,

         and chooseth still to serve,

Though hap should swear that guerdonless

         the wretched wight should sterve.

   The lot of Tantalus

         is, Romeus, like to thine;

For want of food amid his food,

         the miser still doth pine.

31. Romeus discovers

Juliet’s name and

laments his lot.



























































































   As careful was the maid

         what way were best devise

To learn his name, that entertained

         her in so gentle wise,

   Of whom her heart received

         so deep, so wide a wound.

An ancient dame she called to her,

         and in her ear ’gan round.

   This old dame in her youth

         had nursed her with her milk,

With slender needle taught her sew,

         and how to spin with silk.

    “What twain are those,” quoth she,

          “which press unto the door,

Whose pages in their hand do bear

         two torches light before?”

   And then as each of them

         had of his household name,

So she him named yet once again,

         the young and wily dame.

   “And tell me, who is he

         with visor in his hand,

That yonder doth in masking weed

         beside the window stand?”

    “His name is Romeus,”

         said she, “a Montague,

Whose father’s pride first stirred the strife

         which both your households rue.”

   The word of Montague

         her joys did overthrow,

And straight instead of happy hope,

         despair began to grow.

    “What hap have I,” quoth she,

          “to love my father’s foe?

What, am I weary of my weal?

         What, do I wish my woe?”

   But though her grievous pains

         distrained her tender heart,

Yet with an outward show of joy

         she cloakéd inward smart;

   And of the courtlike dames

         her leave so courtly took,

That none did guess the sudden change

         by changing of her look.

   Then at her mother’s hest

         to chamber she her hied,

So well she feigned, mother ne nurse

         the hidden harm descried.

   But when she should have slept,

         as wont she was, in bed,

Not half a wink of quiet sleep

         could harbour in her head.

   For lo, an hugy heap

         of divers thoughts arise,

That rest have banished from her heart,

         and slumber from her eyes.

   And now from side to side

         she tosseth and she turns,

And now for fear she shivereth,

         and now for love she burns.

   And now she likes her choice,

         and now her choice she blames,

And now each hour within her head

         a thousand fancies frames.

   Sometime in mind to stop

         amid her course begun,

Sometime she vows, what so betide,

         th’attempted race to run.

   Thus danger’s dread and love

         within the maiden fought:

The fight was fierce, continuing long

         by their contrary thought.

   In turning maze of love

         she wand’reth to and fro,

Then standeth doubtful what to do,

         lost, overpressed with woe.

   How so her fancies cease,

         her tears did never blin,

With heavy cheer and wringéd hands

         thus doth her plaint begin:

32. Juliet discovers

Romeus’ name and

despairs, giving up
























































    “Ah, silly fool,” quoth she,

          “y-caught in subtle snare!

Ah, wretchéd wench, bewrapt in woe!

         Ah, caitiff clad with care!

   Whence come these wand’ring thoughts

         to thy unconstant breast?

By straying thus from reason’s law,

         that reave thy wonted rest.

   What if his subtle brain

         to feign have taught his tongue,

And so the snake that lurks in grass

         thy tender heart hath stung?

   What if with friendly speech

         the traitor lie in wait,

As oft the poisoned hook is hid,

         wrapt in the pleasant bait?

   Oft under cloak of truth

         hath Falsehood served her lust;

And turned their honour into shame,

         that did so slightly trust.

   What, was not Dido so,

         a crowned queen, defamed?

And eke, for such a heinous crime,

         have men not Theseus blamed?

   A thousand stories more,

         to teach me to beware,

In Boccace and in Ovid’s books

         too plainly written are.

   Perhaps, the great revenge

         he cannot work by strength,

By subtle sleight, my honour stained,

         he hopes to work at length.

   So shall I seek to find

         my father’s foe his game;

So, I befiled, Report shall take

         her trump of black defame,

   Whence she with pufféd cheek

         shall blow a blast so shrill

Of my dispraise, that with the noise

         Verona shall she fill.

   Then I, a laughing-stock

         through all the town become,

Shall hide myself, but not my shame,

         within an hollow tomb.”

33. Juliet fears that

Romeus might want to

dishonour her.




























































   Straight underneath her foot

         she treadeth in the dust.

Her troublesome thought, as wholly vain,

         y-bred of fond distrust.

    “No, no, by God above,

         I wot it well,” quoth she,

“Although I rashly spake before,

         in no wise can it be

   That where such perfect shape

         with pleasant beauty rests,

There crooked craft and treason black

         should be appointed guests.

   Sage writers say, the thoughts

         are dwelling in the eyne;

Then sure I am, as Cupid reigns,

         that Romeus is mine.

   The tongue the messenger

         eke call they of the mind;

So that I see he loveth me;

         shall I then be unkind?

   His face’s rosy hue

         I saw full oft to seek;

And straight again it flashéd forth,

         and spread in either cheek.

   His fixéd heavenly eyne,

         that through me quite did pierce

His thoughts unto my heart, my thought

         they seeméd to rehearse.

   What meant his falt’ring tongue

         in telling of his tale?

The trembling of his joints, and eke

         his colour waxen pale?

   And whilst I talked with him,

         himself he hath exiled

Out of himself, a seeméd me,

         ne was I sure beguiled.

   Those arguments of love

         Craft wrate not in his face,

But Nature’s hand, when all deceit

         was banished out of place.

   What other certain signs

         seek I of his good will?

These do suffice; and steadfast I

         will love and serve him still.

   Till Atropos shall cut

         my fatal thread of life,

So that he mind to make of me

         his lawful wedded wife.

34. Juliet changes her

mind and believes that

his beauty can only

reflect moral integrity.












   For so perchance this new

         alliance may procure

Unto our houses such a peace

         as ever shall endure.”

35. Thus she believes

that their alliance may

help quench the feud.

















   Oh, how we can persuade

         ourself to what we like,

And how we can dissuade our mind,

         if aught our mind mislike!

   Weak arguments are strong,

         our fancies straight to frame

To pleasing things, and eke to shun

         if we mislike the same.

36. The narrator

comments on the

power of self-































   The maid had scarcely yet

         ended the weary war,

Kept in her heart by striving thoughts,

         when every shining star

   Had paid his borrowed light,

         and Phoebus spread in skies

His golden rays, which seemed to say,

         now time it is to rise.

   And Romeus had by this

         forsaken his weary bed,

Where restless he a thousand thoughts

         had forgéd in his head.

   And while with ling’ring step

         by Juliet’s house he passed,

And upwards to her windows high

         his greedy eyes did cast,

   His love that looked for him

         there ’gan he straight espy.

With pleasant cheer each greeted is;

         she followeth with her eye

   His parting steps, and he

         oft looketh back again

But not so oft as he desires;

         warely he doth refrain.

37. At dawn Romeus

passes by her house

and greets her.













   What life were like to love,

         if dread of jeopardy

Y-soured not the sweet, if love

         were free from jealousy!

38. The narrator

comments on love free

from jealousy.














   But she more sure within,

         unseen of any wight,

When so he comes, looks after him

         till he be out of sight.

   In often passing so,

         his busy eyes he threw,

That every pane and tooting hole

         the wily lover knew.

39. Juliet looks after

him when he often

passes her house and

he looks up at her.























   In happy hour he doth

         a garden plot espy,

From which, except he warely walk,

         men may his love descry;

   For lo, it fronted full

         upon her leaning place,

Where she is wont to show her heart

         by cheerful friendly face.

   And lest the arbours might

         their secret love bewray,

He doth keep back his forward foot

         from passing there by day;

   But when on earth the Night

         her mantle black hath spread;

Well armed he walketh forth alone,

         ne dreadful foes doth dread.

40. Romeus finds a

way to get into the

garden at night.









   Whom maketh Love not bold,

         nay, whom makes he not blind?

41. The narrator’s

proverbial wisdom.




















He reaveth danger’s dread oft-times

         out of the lover’s mind.

   By night he passeth here,

         a week or two in vain;

And for the missing of his mark

         his grief hath him nigh slain.

   And Juliet that now

         doth lack her heart’s relief,

Her Romeus’ pleasant eyne, I mean,

         is almost dead for grief.

   Each day she changeth hours

          (for lovers keep an hour

When they are sure to see their love

         in passing by their bower).

42. Romeus passes by

Juliet’s house at night

but does not see Juliet

and Juliet despairs for

not seeing him. The

narrator comments on

lovers’ apprehension.


























   Impatient of her woe,

         she happed to lean one night

Within her window, and anon

         the moon did shine so bright

   That she espied her love:

         her heart revivéd sprang;

And now for joy she claps her hands,

         which erst for woe she wrang.

   Eke Romeus, when he saw

         his long desiréd sight,

His mourning cloak of moan cast off,

         hath clad him with delight.

   Yet dare I say, of both

         that she rejoicéd more:

His care was great, hers twice as great

         was all the time before;

   For whilst she knew not why

         he did himself absent,

Aye doubting both his health and life,

         his death she did lament.

43. Finally, one night,

Juliet sees Romeus and

greatly rejoices.

















   For love is fearful oft

         where is no cause of fear,

And what love fears, that love laments,

         as though it chancéd were.

   Of greater cause always

         is greater work y-bred;

While he nought doubteth of her health,

         she dreads lest he be dead.

44. The Narrator

comments on lovers’























   When only absence is

         the cause of Romeus’ smart,

By happy hope of sight again

         he feeds his fainting heart.

   What wonder then if he

         were wrapped in less annoy?

What marvel if by sudden sight

         she fed of greater joy

   His smaller grief or joy

         no smaller love do prove;

Ne, for she passed him in both,

         did she him pass in love:

   But each of them alike

         did burn in equal flame,

The well-beloving knight and eke

         the well-beloved dame.

45. Although Juliet

rejoices more than

him, reassured that he

is not dead, they love































































   Now whilst with bitter tears

         her eyes as fountains run,

With whispering voice, y-broke with sobs,

         thus is her tale begun:

    “O Romeus, of your life

         too lavish sure you are,

That in this place, and at this time,

         to hazard it you dare.

   What if your deadly foes,

         my kinsmen, saw you here?

Like lions wild, your tender parts

         asunder would they tear.

   In ruth and in disdain,

         I, weary of my life,

With cruel hand my mourning heart

         would pierce with bloody knife.

   For you, mine own, once dead,

         what joy should I have here?

And eke my honour stained, which I

         than life do hold more dear.”

    “Fair lady mine, dame Juliet,

         my life,” quoth he,

“Even from my birth committed was

         to fatal sisters three.

   They may in spite of foes

         draw forth my lively thread;

And they also, whoso saith nay,

         asunder may it shred.

   But who to reave my life,

         his rage and force would bend,

Perhaps should try unto his pain

         how I it could defend.

   Ne yet I love it so,

         but always for your sake,

A sacrifice to death I would

         my wounded corpse betake.

   If my mishap were such,

         that here before your sight,

I should restore again to death,

         of life, my borrowed light,

   This one thing and no more

         my parting sprite would rue,

That part he should before that you

         by certain trial knew

   The love I owe to you,

         the thrall I languish in,

And how I dread to lose the gain

         which I do hope to win;

   And how I wish for life,

         not for my proper ease,

But that in it you might I love,

         you honour, serve and please,

   Till deadly pangs the sprite

         out of the corpse shall send.”

And thereupon he sware an oath,

         and so his tale had end.

46. Juliet asks Romeus

how he got there and

urges him to go away,

being an enemy to her

family; Romeus

expresses his love.




































































   Now love and pity boil

         in Juliet’s ruthful breast;

In window on her leaning arm

         her weary head doth rest;

   Her bosom bathed in tears,

         to witness inward pain,

With dreary cheer to Romeus

         thus answered she again:

    “Ah, my dear Romeus,

         keep in these words,” quoth she,

“For lo, the thought of such mischance

         already maketh me

   For pity and for dread

         well-nigh to yield up breath;

In even balance poiséd are

         my life and eke my death.

   For so my heart is knit,

         yea, made one self with yours,

That sure there is no grief so small,

         by which your mind endures,

   But as you suffer pain,

         so I do bear in part,

Although it lessens not your grief,

         the half of all your smart.

   But these things overpast,

         if of your health and mine

You have respect, or pity aught

         my teary, weeping eyne,

   In few unfeigned words

         your hidden mind unfold,

That as I see your pleasant face,

         your heart I may behold.

   For if you do intend

         my honour to defile,

In error shall you wander still,

         as you have done this while;

   But if your thought be chaste,

         and have on virtue ground,

If wedlock be the end and mark

         which your desire hath found,

   Obedience set aside,

         unto my parents due,

The quarrel eke that long ago

         between our households grew,

   Both me and mine I will

         all whole to you betake,

And following you whereso you go,

         my father’s house forsake.

   But if by wanton love

         and by unlawful suit

You think in ripest years to pluck

         my maidenhood’s dainty fruit,

   You are beguiled; and now

         your Juliet you beseeks

To cease your suit, and suffer her

         to live among her likes.”

47. Juliet asks him if

his intention is honest,

and proposes

















































   Then Romeus, whose thought

         was free from foul desire,

And to the top of virtue’s height

         did worthily aspire,

   Was filled with greater joy

         than can my pen express,

Or, till they have enjoyed the like,

         the hearer’s heart can guess.

   And then with joined hands,

         heaved up into the skies,

He thanks the Gods, and from the heavens

         for vengeance down he cries

   If he have other thought

         but as his lady spake;

And then his look he turned to her,

         and thus did answer make:

    “Since, lady, that you like

         to honour me so much

As to accept me for your spouse,

         I yield myself for such.

   In true witness whereof,

         because I must depart,

Till that my deed do prove my word,

         I leave in pawn my heart.

   To-morrow eke betimes

         before the sun arise,

To Friar Laurence will I wend,

         to learn his sage advice.

   He is my ghostly sire,

         and oft he hath me taught

What I should do in things of weight,

         when I his aid have sought.

   And at this self-same hour,

         I plight you here my faith,

I will be here, if you think good,

         to tell you what he saith.”

48. Romeus rejoices

and tells Juliet that he

will ask the friar for

advice and will return

the following night at

the same hour with
















   She was contented well;

         else favour found he none

That night at lady Juliet’s hand,

         save pleasant words alone.

49. Romeus finds no

other satisfaction than

pleasant words.




















































   This barefoot friar girt

         with cord his grayish weed,

For he of Francis’ order was,

         a friar, as I read.

   Not as the most was he,

         a gross unlearnéd fool,

But doctor of divinity

         proceeded he in school.

   The secrets eke he knew

         in Nature’s works that lurk;

By magic’s art most men supposed

         that he could wonders work.

   Ne doth it ill beseem

         divines those skills to know,

If on no harmful deed they do

         such skilfulness bestow;

   For justly of no art

         can men condemn the use,

But right and reason’s lore cry out

         against the lewd abuse.

   The bounty of the friar

         and wisdom hath so won

The townsfolks’ hearts, that well nigh all

         to Friar Laurence run

   To shrive themselves; the old,

         the young, the great and small;

Of all he is beloved well,

         and honoured much of all.

   And, for he did the rest

         in wisdom far exceed,

The prince by him, his counsel craved,

         was holp at time of need.

   Betwixt the Capulets

         and him great friendship grew,

A secret and assuréd friend

         unto the Montague.

   Loved of this young man more

         than any other guest,

The friar eke of Verona youth

         aye likéd Romeus best;

   For whom he ever hath

         in time of his distress,

As erst you heard, by skilful lore

         found out his harm’s redress:

50. Description of the

friar as a well-beloved

doctor in divinity and

very close to Romeus.
































   To him is Romeus gone,

         ne stay’th he till the morrow;

To him he painteth all his case,

         his passéd joy and sorrow.

   How he hath her espied

         with other dames in dance,

And how that first to talk with her

         himself he did advance;

   Their talk and change of looks

         he ’gan to him declare,

And how so fast by faith and troth

         they both y-coupléd are,

   That neither hope of life,

         nor dread of cruel death,

Shall make him false his faith to her,

         while life shall lend him breath.

   And then with weeping eyes

         he prays his ghostly sire

To further and accomplish all

         their honest hearts’ desire.

51. Romeus tells the

friar about his love for

Juliet and recounts

their encounter. He

asks him to marry





















   A thousand doubts and moe

         in th’old man’s head arose,

A thousand dangers like to come

         the old man doth disclose,

   And from the spousal rites

         he redeth him refrain,

Perhaps he shall be bet advised

         within a week or twain.

52. The friar tries to

dissuade him.


















   Advice is banished quite

         from those that follow love,

Except advice to what they like

         their bending mind do move.

   As well the father might

         have counselled him to stay

That from a mountain’s top thrown down

         is falling half the way

   As warn his friend to stop

         amid his race begun,

Whom Cupid with his smarting whip

         enforceth forth to run.

53. The narrator

comments on Romeus’

deafness to all advice.




















   Part won by earnest suit,

         the friar doth grant at last;

And part, because he thinks the storms,

         so lately overpast,

   Of both the households’ wrath,

         this marriage might appease;

So that they should not rage again,

         but quite for ever cease

   The respite of a day

         he asketh to devise

What way were best, unknown, to end

         so great an enterprise.

54. At last the friar

consents as he thinks

that the marriage

might assuage the





















   The wounded man that now

         doth deadly pains endure,

Scarce patient tarrieth whilst his leech

         doth make the salve to cure:

   So Romeus hardly grants

         a short day and a night,

Yet needs he must, else must he want

         his only heart’s delight.

55. Romeus’ hurry.












   You see that Romeus

         no time or pain doth spare;

Think that the whilst fair Juliet

         is not devoid of care.

56. The narrator

addresses the reader

about Romeus’ and

Juliet’s hurry.
















   Young Romeus poureth forth

         his hap and his mishap

Into the friar’s breast; but where

         shall Juliet unwrap

   The secrets of her heart?

         To whom shall she unfold

Her hidden burning love, and eke

         her thought and cares so cold?

57. The narrator shifts

his narrative to Juliet-

and-the-Nurse pair.






















   The nurse of whom I spake,

         within her chamber lay,

Upon the maid she waiteth still;

         to her she doth bewray

   Her new receivéd wound,

         and then her aid doth crave,

In her, she saith, it lies to spill,

         in her, her life to save.

   Not easily she made

         the froward nurse to bow,

But won at length with promised hire,

         she made a solemn vow.

   To do what she commands,

         as handmaid of her hest;

Her mistress’ secrets hide she will

         within her covert breast.

58. Juliet discloses her

secret love to the


















































   To Romeus she goes;

         of him she doth desire

To know the mean of marriage,

         by counsel of the friar.

    “On Saturday,” quoth he,

          “if Juliet come to shrift,

She shall be shrived and marriéd;

         how like you, nurse, this drift?”

    “Now by my truth,” quoth she,

          “God’s blessing have your heart,

For yet in all my life I have

         not heard of such a part.

   Lord, how you young men can

         such crafty wiles devise,

If that you love the daughter well,

         to blear the mother’s eyes.

   An easy thing it is

         with cloak of holiness

To mock the seely mother, that

         suspecteth nothing less.

   But that it pleaséd you

         to tell me of the case,

For all my many years, perhaps,

         I should have found it scarce.

   Now for the rest let me

         and Juliet alone;

To get her leave, some feat excuse

         I will devise anon;

   For that her golden locks

         by sloth have been unkempt,

Or for unwares some wanton dream

         the youthful damsel dreamt,

   Or for in thoughts of love

         her idle time she spent,

Or otherwise within her heart

         deservéd to be shent.

   I know her mother will

         in no case say her nay;

I warrant you, she shall not fail

         to come on Saturday.”

59. The Nurse goes to

Romeus and is

instructed to

accompany Juliet to

shrive on Saturday.

































   And then she swears to him,

         the mother loves her well;

And how she gave her suck in youth,

         she leaveth not to tell.

    “A pretty babe,” quoth she,

          “it was when it was young;

Lord, how it could full prettily

         have prated with it tongue!

   A thousand times and more

         I laid her on my lap,

And clapped her on the buttock soft,

         and kissed where I did clap.

   And gladder then was I

         of such a kiss, forsooth,

Than I had been to have a kiss

         of some old lecher’s mouth.”

   And thus of Juliet’s youth

         began this prating nurse,

And of her present state to make

         a tedious, long discourse.

60. The Nurse prates

about Juliet’s youth

and her having been

like a mother for her.


































   For though he pleasure took

         in hearing of his love,

The message’ answer seeméd him

         to be of more behove.

   But when these beldames sit

         at ease upon their tail,

The day and eke the candle-light

         before their talk shall fail.

   And part they say is true,

         and part they do devise,

Yet boldly do they chat of both,

         when no man checks their lies.

   Then he six crowns of gold

         out of his pocket drew,

And gave them her; “A slight reward,”

         quoth he, “and so, adieu.”

   In seven years twice told

         she had not bowed so low

Her crooked knees, as now they bow;

         she swears she will bestow

   Her crafty wit, her time,

         and all her busy pain,

To help him to his hopéd bliss;

         and, cow’ring down again,

   She takes her leave, and home

         she hies with speedy pace;

61. Romeus silences

the Nurse by giving

her money.


































































The chamber door she shuts, and then

         she saith with smiling face:

    “Good news for thee, my girl,

         good tidings I thee bring.

Leave off thy wonted song of care,

         and now of pleasure sing.

   For thou may’st hold thyself

         the happiest under sun,

That in so little while, so well,

         so worthy a knight hast won.

   The best y-shaped is he,

         and hath the fairest face

Of all this town, and there is none

         hath half so good a grace:

   So gentle of his speech,

         and of his counsel wise”:

And still with many praises more

         she heaved him to the skies.

    “Tell me else what,” quoth she,

          “this evermore I thought;

But of our marriage, say at once,

         what answer have you brought?”

    “Nay, soft,” quoth she, “I fear

         you’re hurt by sudden joy.”

“I list not play,” quoth Juliet,

          “although thou list to toy.”

   How glad, trow you, was she,

         when she had heard her say,

No farther off than Saturday

         deferréd was the day!

   Again the ancient nurse

         doth speak of Romeus,

“And then,” said she, “he spake to me,

         and then I spake him thus.”

   Nothing was done or said

         that she hath left untold,

Save only one, that she forgot,

         the taking of the gold.

    “There is no loss,” quoth she,

          “sweet wench, to loss of time,

Ne in thine age shalt thou repent

         so much of any crime.

   For when I call to mind

         my former passéd youth,

One thing there is which most of all

         doth cause my endless ruth.

   At sixteen years I first

         did choose my loving fere,

And I was fully ripe before,

         I dare well say, a year.

   The pleasure that I lost,

         that year so overpast,

A thousand times I have bewept,

         and shall while life doth last.

   In faith it were a shame,

         yea, sin it were, y-wis,

When thou may’st live in happy joy,

         to set light by thy bliss.”

62. The Nurse gives

Juliet the news and

praises Romeus. She

does not mention the

money she has




























   She that this morning could

         her mistress’ mind dissuade,

Is now become an oratress,

         her lady to persuade.

   If any man be here

         whom love hath clad with care,

To him I speak; if thou wilt speed,

         thy purse thou must not spare,

   Two sorts of men there are,

         seld welcome in at door,

The wealthy sparing niggard, and

         the suitor that is poor.

   For glitt’ring gold is wont

         by kind to move the heart;

And oftentimes a slight reward

         doth cause a more desart.

   Y-written have I read,

         I wot not in what book,

There is no better way to fish

         than with a golden hook.

63. The Narrator

comments on the

persuasive power of

gold. His address to

the reader.


















   Of Romeus these two

         do sit and chat awhile,

And to themselves they

         laugh how they the mother shall beguile.

   A feat excuse they find,

         but sure I know it not,

And leave for her to go to shrift

         on Saturday she got.

   So well this Juliet,

         this wily wench did know

Her mother’s angry hours, and eke

         the true bent of her bow.

64. Juliet and the

Nurse talk about

Romeus and devise a

stratagem to go to

church. The narrator

ignores what it is.






































   The Saturday betimes,

         in sober weed y-clad,

She took her leave, and forth she went

         with visage grave and sad.

   With her the nurse is sent,

         as bridle of her lust,

With her the mother sends a maid

         almost of equal trust.

   Betwixt her teeth the bit

         the jennet now hath caught,

So warely eke the virgin walks,

         her maid perceiveth nought.

   She gazeth not in church

         on young men of the town,

Ne wand’reth she from place to place,

         but straight she kneeleth down

   Upon an altar’s step,

         where she devoutly prays,

And there upon her tender knees

         the weary lady stays;

   Whilst she doth send her maid

         the certain truth to know,

If Friar Laurence leisure had

         to hear her shrift, or no.

   Out of his shriving place

         he comes with pleasant cheer;

The shamefast maid with bashful brow

         to himward draweth near.

    “Some great offence,” quoth he,

          “you have committed late,

Perhaps you have displeased your friend

         by giving him a mate.”

65. On Saturday Juliet,

the Nurse and a maid

go to church.


















   Then turning to the nurse

         and to the other maid,

“Go, hear a mass or two,” quoth he,

          “which straightway shall be said.

   For, her confession heard,

         I will unto you twain

The charge that I received of you

         restore to you again.”

66. The friar tells the

two women to go hear

a mass or two and

then return.
















   What, was not Juliet,

         trow you, right well apaid?

That for this trusty friar hath changed

         her young mistrusting maid?

   I dare well say, there is

         in all Verona none,

But Romeus, with whom she would

         so gladly be alone.

67. The narrator

comments upon

Juliet’s satisfaction.


































































   Thus to the friar’s cell

         they both forth walkéd bin;

He shuts the door as soon as he

         and Juliet were in.

   But Romeus, her friend,

         was entered in before,

And there had waited for his love,

         two hours large and more.

   Each minute seemed an hour,

         and every hour a day,

’Twixt hope he livéd and despair

         of coming or of stay.

   Now wavering hope and fear

         are quite fled out of sight,

For what he hoped he hath at hand,

         his pleasant, chief delight.

   And joyful Juliet

         is healed of all her smart,

For now the rest of all her parts

         have found her straying heart.

   Both their confessions first

         the friar hath heard them make.

And then to her with louder voice

         thus Friar Laurence spake:

    “Fair lady Juliet,

         my ghostly daughter dear,

As far as I of Romeus learn,

         who by you standeth here,

   ’Twixt you it is agreed,

         that you shall be his wife,

And he your spouse in steady truth,

         till death shall end your life.

   Are you both fully bent

         to keep this great behest?”

And both the lovers said, it was

         their only heart’s request.

   When he did see their minds

         in links of love so fast,

When in the praise of wedlock’s

         state some skilful talk was past,

   When he had told at length

         the wife what was her due,

His duty eke by ghostly talk

         the youthful husband knew;

   How that the wife in love

         must honour and obey,

What love and honour he doth owe,

         and debt that he must pay.

   The words pronouncéd were

         which holy church of old

Appointed hath for marriage,

         and she a ring of gold

   Received of Romeus;

         and then they both arose.

To whom the friar then said:

          “Perchance apart you will disclose,

   Betwixt yourself alone,

         the bottom of your heart;

Say on at once, for time it is

         that hence you should depart.”

68. The friar confesses

them and celebrates

the secret marriage.
























   Then Romeus said to her,

         both loth to part so soon,

“Fair lady, send to me again

         your nurse this afternoon.

   Of cord I will bespeak

         a ladder by that time;

By which, this night, while others sleep,

         I will your window climb.

   Then will we talk of love

         and of our old despairs,

And then, with longer leisure had,

         dispose our great affairs.”

69. Romeus tells Juliet

to send the Nurse to

him to organise his

arrival at night (the

cord ladder).





















   These said, they kiss, and then

         part to their fathers’ house,

The joyful bride unto her home,

         to his eke go’th the spouse:

   Contented both, and

         yet both uncontented still,

Till Night and Venus’ child give leave

         the wedding to fulfil.

70. After planning to

meet, Romeus and

Juliet part.







































   The painful soldier, sore

         y-beat with weary war,

The merchant eke that needful things

         doth dread to fetch from far,

   The ploughman that for doubt

         of fierce invading foes,

Rather to sit in idle ease

         than sow his tilt hath chose,

   Rejoice to hear proclaimed

         the tidings of the peace;

Not pleasured with the sound so much;

         but, when the wars do cease,

   Then ceased are the harms

         which cruel war brings forth:

The merchant then may boldly fetch

         his wares of precious worth;

   Dreadless the husbandman

         doth till his fertile field.

For wealth, her mate, not for herself,

         is peace so precious held:

   So lovers live in care,

         in dread, and in unrest,

And deadly war by striving thoughts

         they keep within their breast:

   But wedlock is the peace

         whereby is freedom won

To do a thousand pleasant things

         that should not else be done.

   The news of ended war

         these two have heard with joy,

But now they long the fruit of peace

         with pleasure to enjoy.

71. The narrator

comments on the

lovers’ cares and



























      In stormy wind and wave,

         in danger to be lost,

Thy steerless ship, O Romeus,

         hath been long while betossed;

   The seas are now appeased,

         and thou, by happy star,

Art come in sight of quiet haven;

         and, now the wrackful bar

   Is hid with swelling tide,

         boldly thou may’st resort

Unto thy wedded lady’s bed,

         thy long desiréd port.

   God grant, no folly’s mist

         so dim thy inward sight,

That thou do miss the channel that

         doth lead to thy delight.

   God grant, no danger’s rock,

         y-lurking in the dark,

Before thou win the happy port,

         wrack thy sea-beaten bark.

72. The narrator

addresses Romeus,

wishing him God’s

blessing for his arrival

at a safe port.


















   A servant Romeus had,

         of word and deed so just,

That with his life, if need required,

         his master would him trust.

   His faithfulness had oft

         our Romeus proved of old;

And therefore all that yet was done

         unto his man he told,

   Who straight, as he was charged,

         a corden ladder looks,

To which he hath made fast two strong

         and crooked iron hooks.

73. Romeus’ trusty

servant prepares the




















   The bride to send the nurse

         at twilight faileth not,

To whom the bridegroom given hath

         the ladder that he got,

   And then to watch for him

         appointeth her an hour;

For whether Fortune smile on him,

         or if she list to lower,

   He will not miss to come

         to his appointed place,

Where wont he was to take by stealth

         the view of Juliet’s face.

74. Juliet sends him

the Nurse at twilight

and appoints her to

watch for Romeus to




















   How long these lovers thought

         the lasting of the day,

Let other judge that wonted are

         like passions to assay:

   For my part, I do guess

         each hour seems twenty year:

So that I deem, if they might have,

         as of Alcume we hear,

   The sun bound to their will,

         if they the heavens might guide,

Black shade of night and doubled dark

         should straight all over hide.

75. The narrator

comments on their

impatience about the

arrival of night.



























































   Th’appointed hour is come;

         he, clad in rich array,

Walks toward his desiréd home:

         good fortune guide his way.

   Approaching near the place

         from whence his heart had life,

So light he wox, he leapt the wall,

         and there he spied his wife,

   Who in the window watched

         the coming of her lord;

Where she so surely had made fast

         the ladder made of cord,

   That dangerless her spouse

         the chamber window climbs,

Where he ere then had wished himself

         above ten thousand times.

   The windows close are shut;

         else look they for no guest;

To light the waxen quarriers,

         the ancient nurse is pressed,

   Which Juliet had before

         prepared to be light,

That she at pleasure might behold

         her husband’s beauty bright.

   A kerchief white as snow

         ware Juliet on her head,

Such as she wonted was to wear,

         attire meet for the bed.

   As soon as she him spied,

         about his neck she clung,

And by her long and slender arms

         a great while there she hung.

   A thousand times she kissed,

         and him unkissed again,

Ne could she speak a word to him,

         though would she ne’er so fain.

   And like betwixt his arms

         to faint his lady is;

She fets a sigh and clappeth close

         her closéd mouth to his;

   And ready then to sownd

         she lookéd ruthfully,

That lo, it made him both at once

         to live and eke to die.

   These piteous painful pangs

         were haply overpast,

And she unto herself again

         returnéd home at last.

   Then, through her troubled breast,

         even from the farthest part,

An hollow sigh, a messenger,

         she sendeth from her heart.

76. Romeus arrives at

Juliet’s chamber and

the two lovers
















































































    “O Romeus,” quoth she,

          “in whom all virtues shine,

Welcome thou art into this place,

         where from these eyes of mine

   Such teary streams did flow,

         that I suppose well-nigh

The source of all my bitter tears

         is altogether dry.

   Absence so pined my heart,

         which on thy presence fed,

And of thy safety and thy health

         so much I stood in dread.

   But now what is decreed

         by fatal destiny,

I force it not; let Fortune do,

         and death, their worst to me.

   Full recompensed am I

         for all my passéd harms,

In that the Gods have granted me

         to clasp thee in mine arms.”

   The crystal tears began

         to stand in Romeus’ eyes,

When he unto his lady’s words

         ’gan answer in this wise:

    “Though cruel Fortune be

         so much my deadly foe,

That I ne can by lively proof

         cause thee, fair dame, to know

   How much I am by love

         enthralléd unto thee,

Ne yet what mighty power thou hast,

         by thy desert, on me,

   Ne torments that for thee

         I did ere this endure,

Yet of thus much, ne will I feign,

         I may thee well assure,

   The least of many pains

         which of thy absence sprung,

More painfully than death itself

         my tender heart hath wrung.

   Ere this, one death had reft

         a thousand deaths away,

But life prolongéd was by hope

         of this desiréd day,

   Which so just tribute pays

         of all my passéd moan,

That I as well contented am

         as if myself alone

   Did from the Ocean reign

         unto the sea of Ind.

Wherefore now let us wipe away

         old cares out of our mind.

   For as the wretched state

         is now redressed at last,

So is it skill behind our back

         the curséd care to cast.

   Since Fortune of her grace

         hath place and time assigned,

Where we with pleasure may content

         our uncontented mind,

   In Lethes hide we deep

         all grief and all annoy,

Whilst we do bathe in bliss, and fill

         our hungry hearts with joy.

   And, for the time to come,

         let be our busy care

So wisely to direct our love,

         as no wight else be ware;

   Lest envious foes by force

         despoil our new delight,

And us throw back from happy state

         to more unhappy plight.”

77. The two lovers

reassure each other

and promise to love



















   Fair Juliet began

         to answer what he said,

But forth in haste the old nurse stepped,

         and so her answer stayed.

    “Who takes not time,” quoth she,

          “when time well offered is,

Another time shall seek for time,

         and yet of time shall miss.

   And when occasion serves,

         whoso doth let it slip,

Is worthy sure, if I might judge,

         of lashes with a whip.

78. The Nurse urges

them to stop talking

and waste no more
























   Wherefore if each of you

         hath harmed the other so,

And each of you hath been the cause

         of other’s wailéd woe,

   Lo here a field” – she showed

         a field-bed ready dight –

“Where you may, if you list, in arms

         revenge yourself by fight.”

   Whereto these lovers both

         ’gan easily assent,

And to the place of mild revenge

         with pleasant cheer they went,

   Where they were left alone

         – the nurse is gone to rest.

How can this be? They restless lie,

         ne yet they feel unrest.

79. The Nurse urges

them to go to bed (the

site of a love-
























   I grant that I envy

         the bliss they livéd in;

Oh that I might have found the like,

         I wish it for no sin,

   But that I might as well

         with pen their joys depaint,

As heretofore I have displayed

         their secret hidden plaint.

   Of shivering care and dread

         I have felt many a fit,

But Fortune such delight as theirs

         did never grant me yet.

   By proof no certain truth

         can I unhappy write,

But what I guess by likelihood,

         that dare I to indite.

80. The narrator

avows jealous

ignorance of such a

bliss which he can

hardly describe.


































   The blindfold goddess that

         with frowning face doth fray,

And from their seat the mighty kings

         throws down with headlong sway,

   Beginneth now to turn

         to these her smiling face;

Needs must they taste of great delight,

         so much in Fortune’s grace.

   If Cupid, god of love,

         be god of pleasant sport,

I think, O Romeus, Mars himself

         envies thy happy sort.

   Ne Venus justly might,

         as I suppose, repent,

If in thy stead, O Juliet,

         this pleasant time she spent.

   Thus pass they forth the night,

         in sport, in jolly game;

The hastiness of Phoebus’ steeds

         in great despite they blame.

   And now the virgin’s fort

         hath warlike Romeus got,

In which as yet no breach was made

         by force of cannon shot,

   And now in ease he doth

         possess the hopéd place:

How glad was he, speak you that may

         your lover’s parts embrace.

81. Description of

their passing the night

in jolly game.

























   The marriage thus made up,

         and both the parties pleased,

The nigh approach of day’s return

         these seely fools dis-eased.

   And for they might no while

         in pleasure pass their time,

Ne leisure had they much to blame

         the hasty morning’s crime,

   With friendly kiss in arms

         of her his leave he takes,

And every other night, to come,

         a solemn oath he makes,

   By one self mean, and eke

         to come at one self hour:

And so he doth, till Fortune list

         to sauce his sweet with sour.

82. The lovers blame

the arrival of the

morning but promise

to meet again every






































   But who is he that can

         his present state assure?

And say unto himself, thy joys

         shall yet a day endure?

   So wavering Fortune’s wheel,

         her changes be so strange;

And every wight y-thralléd is

         by Fate unto her change,

   Who reigns so over all,

         that each man hath his part

(Although not aye, perchance, alike)

         of pleasure and of smart.

   For after many joys

         some feel but little pain,

And from that little grief they turn

         to happy joy again.

   But other some there are,

         that, living long in woe,

At length they be in quiet ease,

         but long abide not so;

   Whose grief is much increased

         by mirth that went before,

Because the sudden change of things

         doth make it seem the more.

83. Uncertainty of life

and the wavering of

Fortune’s wheel.




























   Of this unlucky sort

         our Romeus is one,

For all his hap turns to mishap,

         and all his mirth to moan.

   And joyful Juliet

         another leaf must turn;

As wont she was, her joys bereft,

         she must begin to mourn.

   The summer of their bliss

         doth last a month or twain,

But winter’s blast with speedy foot

         doth bring the fall again.

   Whom glorious Fortune erst

         had heaved to the skies,

By envious Fortune overthrown,

         on earth now grovelling lies.

   She paid their former grief

         with pleasure’s doubled gain,

But now for pleasure’s usury,

         tenfold redoubleth pain.

84. Prefiguration of

the two lovers’






























   The prince could never cause

         those households so agree,

But that some sparkles of their wrath

         as yet remaining be;

   Which lie this while raked up

         in ashes pale and dead

Till time do serve that they again

         in wasting flame may spread.

   At holiest times, men say,

         most heinous crimes are done;

The morrow after Easter day

         the mischief new begun.

   A band of Capulets

         did meet – my heart it rues –

Within the walls, by Purser’s gate,

         a band of Montagues.

85. The feud is

rekindled: a new brawl

breaks the morning

after Easter by

Purser’s gate.



















   The Capulets, as chief,

         a young man have chose out,

Best exercised in feats of arms,

         and noblest of the rout,

   Our Juliet’s uncle’s son,

         that clepéd was Tybalt;

He was of body tall and strong,

         and of his courage halt.

86. Description of

Tybalt, chief of the































































   They need no trumpet sound

         to bid them give the charge,

So loud he cried with strainéd voice

         and mouth outstretchéd large:

    “Now, now,” quoth he, “my friends,

         ourself so let us wreak,

That of this day’s revenge and us

         our children’s heirs may speak.

   Now once for all let us

         their swelling pride assuage;

Let none of them escape alive.”

         Then he, with furious rage,

   And they with him, gave charge

         upon their present foes,

And then forthwith a skirmish great

         upon this fray arose.

   For, lo, the Montagues

         thought shame away to fly,

And rather than to live with shame,

         with praise did choose to die.

   The words that Tybalt used

         to stir his folk to ire,

Have in the breasts of Montagues

         kindled a furious fire.

   With lions’ hearts they fight,

         warely themselves defend;

To wound his foe, his present wit

         and force each one doth bend.

   This furious fray is long

         on each side stoutly fought,

That whether part had got the worst,

         full doubtful were the thought.

   The noise hereof anon

         throughout the town doth fly,

And parts are taken on every side;

         both kindreds thither hie.

   Here one doth gasp for breath,

         his friend bestrideth him;

And he hath lost a hand, and he

         another maiméd limb,

   His leg is cut whilst he

         strikes at another full,

And whom he would have thrust quite through,

         hath cleft his crackéd skull.

   Their valiant hearts forbode

         their foot to give the ground;

With unappalléd cheer they took

         full deep and doubtful wound.

   Thus foot by foot long while,

         and shield to shield set fast,

One foe doth make another faint,

         but makes him not aghast.

87. Tybalt starts the








































   And whilst this noise is rife

        in every townsman’s ear,

Eke, walking with his friends, the noise

        doth woeful Romeus hear.

   With speedy foot he runs

        unto the fray apace;

With him, those few that were with

        him he leadeth to the place.

   They pity much to see

        the slaughter made so great,

That wetshod they might stand in blood

        on either side the street.

    “Part, friends,” said he, “part, friends,

        Help, friends, to part the fray,”

And to the rest, “Enough,” he cries,

         “Now time it is to stay.

   God’s farther wrath you stir,

        beside the hurt you feel,

And with this new uproar

        confound all this our common weal.”

   But they so busy are

        in fight, so eager and fierce,

That through their ears his sage advice

        no leisure had to pierce.

   Then leapt he in the throng,

        to part and bar the blows

As well of those that were his friends,

        as of his deadly foes.

88. Romeus arrives

and tries to part the

enemies, yet to no













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