home contact

Romeo and Juliet

Please see the bottom of this page for detailed explanatory notes and related resources.

ACT II SCENE VI Friar Laurence's cell. 
FRIAR LAURENCESo smile the heavens upon this holy act,
That after hours with sorrow chide us not!
ROMEOAmen, amen! but come what sorrow can,
It cannot countervail the exchange of joy
That one short minute gives me in her sight:
Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
Then love-devouring death do what he dare;
It is enough I may but call her mine.
FRIAR LAURENCEThese violent delights have violent ends
And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,10
Which as they kiss consume: the sweetest honey
Is loathsome in his own deliciousness
And in the taste confounds the appetite:
Therefore love moderately; long love doth so;
Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.
[Enter JULIET]
Here comes the lady: O, so light a foot
Will ne'er wear out the everlasting flint:
A lover may bestride the gossamer
That idles in the wanton summer air,
And yet not fall; so light is vanity.20
JULIETGood even to my ghostly confessor.
FRIAR LAURENCERomeo shall thank thee, daughter, for us both.
JULIETAs much to him, else is his thanks too much.
ROMEOAh, Juliet, if the measure of thy joy
Be heap'd like mine and that thy skill be more
To blazon it, then sweeten with thy breath
This neighbour air, and let rich music's tongue
Unfold the imagined happiness that both
Receive in either by this dear encounter.
JULIETConceit, more rich in matter than in words,30
Brags of his substance, not of ornament:
They are but beggars that can count their worth;
But my true love is grown to such excess
I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.
FRIAR LAURENCECome, come with me, and we will make short work;
For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone
Till holy church incorporate two in one.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1


Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 6

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.


1. So smile the heavens, may the heavens so smile! may Providence so approve of this marriage that, etc.

4, 5. It cannot ... sight, it cannot outweigh the joy that the sight of her for one short minute gives me, even though I have to endure the bitterest sorrow the next minute; the exchange of joy does not mean the exchange from some past sorrow, but the enjoyment of happiness in the present, which may have to be exchanged for sorrow hereafter.

6. close, unite.

7. dare, subjunctive, may dare.

8. It is enough ... mine, it is enough for me to have once called her mine. Cp. Dryden, transl. of Horace, Odes, i. 29, "Not Heaven itself upon the past has power. But what has been, has been, and I have had my hour."

9. These violent ... ends. Walker points out that violent is used in the first instance as a trisyllable and in the second as a dissyllable.

10. And in ... die, and perish when at their summit of enjoyment. Malone compares Lucr. 894, "Thy violent vanities can never last."

11. kiss, meet, as though they were friends.

12. Is loathsome ... deliciousness, cloys the taste from the very fact of being so luscious.

13. confounds, renders it incapable of proper appreciation.

14. long love, enduring, lasting, love.

15. Too swift ... slow. Another version of the proverb "The more haste, the less speed."

16. 7. so light ... flint. The corresponding line in the first quarto is "So light a foot ne'er hurts the trodden flower," of which, as Grant White remarks, the words in the text do not seem an improvement; everlasting, of course not in its strict sense.

18. gossamer, "fine spider-threads seen in fine weather. ... Of disputed origin: but M. E. gossomer is literally goose-summer, and the provincial E. (Craven) name for gossamer is summer-goose ... The word is probably nothing but a corruption of 'goose- summer' or 'summer-goose,' from the downy appearance" of the film"... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

20. vanity, the unsubstantial delight felt by lovers.

22. shall thank you, shall requite you for your kind salutation; I will leave Romeo to acknowledge your greeting.

23. As much ... much, 'nay,' says Juliet, 'I must greet him as well as you, for if, without my doing so, he gives thanks for both of you, his thanks will be more than I desire.'

24. measure, apparently used in a double sense, (1) great quantity, (2) the vessel containing the quantity.

25. Be heap'd, be filled to the brim; cp. Luke, vi. 38, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom."

26. To blazon it, to depict it in worthy colours; to blazon is "to pourtray armorial bearings ... — F. blazon, 'a coat of arms; in the 11th century a buckler, a shield ; then a shield with a coat of arms of a knight painted on it; lastly, towards the 15th century, the coats of arms themselves'; Brachet" ... (Skeat, Ety. Dict.).

27. neighbour, neighbouring; cp. R. II. i. 1. 119, "Such neighbour nearness to our sacred blood": rich music's tongue, identifying Juliet's voice with music.

28. the imagined happiness, the happiness wrapped up in the soul.

29. in either, each in the other.

30. Conceit, conception; literally that which is conceived; used in Shakespeare for idea, fanciful thought, mental faculty, etc.

31. Brags ... ornament, is proud of the reality and does not care to set forth its possession by mere ornament, does not value any such display as you would have me make in words.

32. They are but ... worth. Cp. M. A. ii. 1. 318, "I were but little happy, if I could say how much"; A. C. i. 1. 15, "There's beggary in the love that can be reckoned."

34. I cannot ... wealth. The reading in the text, that of the second and third quartos, seems intelligible enough, and means 'I cannot sum up the total of half my wealth'; but Capell altered it to "I cannot sum up half my sum of wealth," which most modern editors follow.

35. make short work, finish the business off quickly.

37. incorporate two in one. Cp. Matthew, xix. 5, "For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they twain shall be one flesh."


How to cite the explanatory notes:

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Feb. 2010. (date when you accessed the information) < >.


Related Articles

 Themes in Romeo and Juliet
 Annotated Balcony Scene, Act 2
 Blank Verse and Rhyme in Romeo and Juliet
 Sources for Romeo and Juliet

 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
 Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
 Romeo and Juliet: Teacher's Notes and Classroom Discussion
 The Five Stages of Plot Development in Romeo and Juliet

 How to Pronounce the Names in Romeo and Juliet
 Introduction to Romeo
 Introduction to Juliet
 Introduction to Mercutio
 Introduction to The Nurse

 Shakespeare on Fate
 Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
 Stage History of Romeo and Juliet
 Romeo and Juliet Essay Topics
 Romeo and Juliet: Q & A
 All About Queen Mab