From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.
1. Wilt thou be gone, are you determined to go?
3. That pierced ... ear, that sounded in your ear and made you
afraid, i.e. of staying here too late to make your escape to
4. pomegranate-tree. Though flourishing in England, this
tree was originally brought from warmer climates, and was
particularly abundant in Palestine. The Romans introduced it
into Italy, whence it spread to other European countries. The
date of its first cultivation in England is uncertain, though
Chaucer mentions the tree in his Romaunt of the Rose, 1356,
"Of pome-garnettys a fulle gret delle." In England its fruit,
though handsome, is not worth eating. Knight is informed by
a friend that "throughout his journeys in the East he never
heard such a choir of nightingales as in a row of pomegranate
trees that skirt the road from Smyrna to Boudjia." From Lat.
pomum an apple, and granatum, filled with seeds. Shakespeare,
like most poets, speaks of the female bird as singing; though,
as he no doubt well knew, it is the male bird alone that sings, —
he, like others, being influenced by the myth that Philomela,
daughter of King Pandion, was metamorphosed into a nightingale.
6. herald, cp. V. A. 531, "The owl, night's herald, shrieks
'"Tis very late.'"
7. envious, spiteful, malignant.
8. Do lace ... east, crosses with bands of light the clouds that
part at its advent; cp. Haml. ii. 2. 313, "this brave o'erhanging
firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire."
10. tiptoe, eager for his journey, alert. So we speak of being
'on the tiptoe of expectation.'
11. I must ... die, if I am to live, I must be gone; for, if I
stay, my life will be forfeit.
13. exhales, draws up from the earth; cp. i. H. IV. v. 1. 19,
"And he no more an exhaled meteor"; ii. 4. 352, "My lord do
you see these meteors? do you behold these exhalations?", the
belief being that they were vapours which the sun had drawn
up from the earth and condensed.
14. torch-bearer. Todd compares Sidney's Arcadia, "The
moon, then full, not thinking scorn to be a torch-bearer to such
beauty, guided her steps."
18. so, provided that.
20. Cynthia's brow. Collier's MS. Corrector gives bow for brow,
which is a very tempting conjecture, Cynthia, or Diana (i.e. the
moon) being generally represented with her bow. Clarke supposes the allusion to be to the crescent moon upon her brow
with which she is classically represented.
21. Nor ... not, for the emphatic double negative, see Abb. § 406:
beat, strike with their vibrations.
23. care, desire: will, determination.
25. my soul! addressed to Juliet.
28. Straining ... sharps, in the straining of her voice to the
highest pitch, producing jarring discords and notes of piercing
shrillness; discords and sharps, both technical terms in music,
the former "a combination of notes which produces a certain
restless craving in the mind for some furtlier combination upon
which it can rest with satisfaction"; the latter "a term which
expresses the raising of a note by a less quantity than a whole
tone. F sharp is half a tone higher than F natural: a singer
'sang sharp,' that is, sang slightly higher than the accompaniment; 'the pitch was sharpened,' that is, was slightly raised"
(Dict. of Music, edited by Sir George Grove).
29. division, "is what we now call variation; where instead
of one note, two, three, or more notes are sung to one syllable
or to one chord" (Staunton).
31, 2. Some say ... too! because the croaking toad would
not be "the herald of the morn" to frighten Romeo away.
"The toad," says Warburton, "having very fine eyes, and the
lark very ugly ones, was the occasion of a common saying among
the people that the toad and lark had changed eyes."
33. Since arm ... affray, since that voice frightens us from our
34. hunt's-up. "Any song intended to arouse in the morning, —
even a love-song, — was formerly called a hunt,'s-up; and the
name was, of course, derived from a tune or song employed by
early hunters" ... (Staunton).
36. More light ... woes, the brighter the day shines forth, the
darker fall the shadows of our woes.
40. be wary, look about, take heed and be on your guard, sc.
that Romeo should not be discovered; cp. Lear, iv. 7. 93, '"Tis
time to look about; the powers of the kingdom approach apace."
44, 5. I must ... days, you must let me hear from you every
day in the hour. I say 'every day in the hour,' for a minute of
your absence will to me be as tedious as many days of ordinary
46. by this count ... years, by this reckoning I shall be far
advanced in years, well on in life.
52. I doubt it not. To Daniel "it seems probable that the I
here stands for the affirmative Ay," in which case a comma will
be necessary after the word. The first quarto reads "No doubt,
no doubt," a reading which confirms the conjecture, — to me a
nearly certain one.
54. O God! ... soul. Cp. Romeo's forebodings above, i. 4. 106-11.
55. now thou art below, now that he has descended to the
59. Dry sorrow ... blood. Sighs were supposed to drain the
blood from the heart; cp. M. N. D. iii. 2. 97, "sighs of love,
that costs the fresh blood dear"; ii. H. VI. iii. 2. 63, "Look
pale as primrose with blood-drinking sighs."
61. what dost ... him, what business have you to associate
yourself with him? you and he are no fit companions.
66. Is she not ... early, am I to suppose that she has stayed
downstairs so late (i.e. has not been in bed), or that she has risen
67. procures, brings about her coming; cp. above, ii. 2. 145,
"By one that I'll procure to come to thee."
68. Why, how now, Juliet? said in reproach at not finding her
72. have done, cease lamenting.
73. But much ... wit. Ulrici notices that it is thoroughly in
keeping with Lady Capulet's heartless character and artificial
nature that she should consider deep feeling an indication of want
of wit, i.e. good sense.
74. such a feeling loss, such a heartfelt loss; op. Lear, iv. 6.
226, "Who, by the art of known and feeling sorrows. Am pregnant to good pity."
75, 6. So shall you ... for, in that way you will only experience
the bitterness of the loss without bringing back to life him who
76, 7. Feeling ... friend, since I feel the loss so bitterly, I cannot help for ever mourning the friend to whose loss that bitter
grief is due.
78, 9. Well, girl, ... him, well, girl, whatever you may say of
your grief for Tybalt, I believe the real cause of your sorrow is
that Romeo has not yet been punished with death.
81. Villain ... asunder. Many editors have adopted Hanmer's
stage direction, Aside. This seems to me a mistake. Juliet's
words are purposely made ambiguous, as in the following speeches,
by the use of be; as she intends the words to be taken by her
mother, they express a wish, as she means them, they are a
83. like he, more grammatically him.
84. traitor, traitorous; so R. II. i. 1. 102, "a traitor coward."
88. Then weep no more, then, if, as I supposed, this is the
cause of your grief, you may dry your tears.
89. runagate, scoundrel, vagabond; literally an 'apostate,'
from Lat. renegare, to deny again, to abjure one's religion, from
which we have renegade. Skeat shows that the form is due to a
confusion with run and gate, a way, the M. E. renegat being
popularly supposed to stand for renne a gate, i.e. to run on the
way. The word is familiar to us from the Prayer Book version
of the Psalms, lxviii. 6, "letteth the runagates continue in scarceness," where the Bible version has "the rebellious."
90. such ... dram, a draught very different from his usual
potations. A dram, here = a poisonous draught, is the same
word as dram, a small weight, Gk....a handful, such
draughts being given in small quantities; in v. 1. 60, below, the
word is probably used in the more literal sense.
93-5. Indeed ... vex'd. "The several interpretations of which
this ambiguous speech is capable are I suppose: 1. I shall never
be satisfied with Romeo. 2. I shall never be satisfied with
Romeo till I behold him. 3. I shall never be satisfied with
Romeo till I behold him dead. 4. Till I behold him, dead is my
poor heart. 5. Dead is my poor heart, so for a kinsman vext"
96. but, a transposition, the word really belonging to find out.
97. temper, mix, compound; so Haml. v. 2. 339, "It is a
poison tempered by himself."
99. sleep in quiet, again ambiguously, the potion she would
really like to administer being her own presence, companionship.
100. and cannot ... him, seeing that I (implied in my heart) (1)
cannot find my way to join him, (2) cannot get at him to poison
101. To wreak ... cousin, to show, by the vengeance I would
take, how great my love was for my cousin; of course the
"vengeance" she would really take would be to throw herself
into her husband's arms; wreak, from A.S. to revenge, punish,
originally to urge, impel. Some word has evidently fallen out
from the line, which is supplied in the later folios by "Tybalt."
Malone, who points out that the last word of a line, especially
when a proper name, is not likely to have been lost, conjectures
"murder'd cousin"; others suggest "tender love," or "ever
bore," or "bore unto."
105. needy time, time that has such good need of something to
cheer it; in Per. i. 4. 95, needy is used either for 'needful,' or
for that which supplies the wants, "our ships ... Are stored with
corn to make your needy bread"; elsewhere it is used of
persons, = indigent, or of things, = scantily supplied, as below, v.
1. 42, "needy shop."
107. careful, sc. of her interests and happiness.
109. Hath sorted ... joy, has picked out a day for the sudden
accomplishment of your happiness; in sorted there is no doubt
an allusion to choosing a propitious day by consulting an oracle,
the word in all its senses being ultimately referable to the Lat.
sors, sortis, a lot, decision by lot, an oracular response (often
written on a little tablet or lot); so in iii. H. VI. v. 6. 85, without the adverb, "But I will sort a pitchy day for thee."
111. in happy time. A literal translation of the F. a la bonne
heure, an expression used in acquiescence, astonishment, or indignation, here with doubtful satisfaction; so very frequently
"in good time."
114. County, see note on i. 2. 68.
118, 9. that I must ... woo, according to which I am destined
to be married before he who is to be my husband has even come
to seek my love; should, is to be, as he thinks.
123. These ... indeed! this is a pretty piece of news you had to
give! you may well call your communication 'news.'
12-3. how he will ... hands, what he will think of such an
answer from your lips; though it is used indefinitely; see
Abb. § 226.
126. the air. The earlier quartos and the folios give earth, but
though it may be scientifically true that dew rises from the earth,
and in that sense the earth may be said to drizzle dew, the words
It rains downright show that air must be the right reading
127. sunset. In Campbell's beautiful lines in Lochiel, the word
is used not for death itself but for the approach of death; "'Tis
the sunset of life gives me mystical lore And coming events cast
their shadows before."
129. a conduit, girl? what, are your tears still flowing like a
conduit never dry!
130-7. In one ... body. Cp. the king's fanciful similes, R. II. v.
136. Without ... calm, unless quickly followed by a calm.
138. decree, decision; cp. above, iii. 3. 146.
139. but she ... thanks, but she is good enough to thank you
and to say that she will have none of our decision, nothing to do
with the plan of wedding her to Paris.
140. were married ... grave. Cp. above, i. 5. 132, 3.
141. take me with you, let me be sure I understand you; cp.
i. H. IV. ii. 4. 508, "I would your grace would take me with
you," i.e. be explicit in your language.
143. proud, sc. of the noble alliance we have secured for her.
144, 5. we have ... bridegroom, we have arranged that so
worthy a gentleman should be, etc.
146. Not proud ... have, I cannot say that I am proud you
should have done this; though I am thankful, knowing that you
did it out of love for me.
148. is meant love, is meant as love, is done with a loving
149. How ... chop-logic, have you become a splitter of straws, do
you venture to bandy arguments with me in this quibbling way?
151. mistress minion, my pert young madam; minion, F.
mignon, a favourite, darling, from the adjective mignon, dainty,
neat, pleasing, kind. Skeat says that the sinister sense which
the word so commonly has is probably borrowed from the Italian
mignone, a minion, a favourite.
152. Thank ... prouds. don't talk this nonsense of your being
thankful and proud; cp. R. II. ii. 3. 87, "Grace me no grace
and uncle me no uncles," said in answer to Bolingbroke's words,
"My gracious uncle."
153. But fettle ... next, but make ready those dainty limbs, of
which you are so vain, in anticipation of Thursday next, i.e. of
having to go to church for your marriage; to fettle, though of
uncertain origin; is to set about doing a thing, generally with the
idea of something difficult or unpleasant; for 'gainst, cp. above,
iii. 4. 32.
155. on a hurdle. As convicted criminals were dragged to
156. Out, ... carrion, shame on you, you languid, whining,
creature with a face as pale as a corpse; the green sickness, a
disease of a hysterical nature, accompanied by a pale, livid, complexion, to which females were subject [Please click here for a detailed look at green sickness]: baggage, worthless
minx; used of a good-for-nothing woman, from the idea of an
encumbrance and thence useless encumbrance, rubbish; in a
similarly contemptuous sense, that of encumbrance, the corpse of
Hotspur is called luggage in i. H. IV. v. 4. 160.
157. are you mad? said as Capulet is about to strike Juliet.
159. but, properly belonging to a word.
160. Hang thee, reflexive; though thee here, and in the next
line, is used with scornful emphasis.
164. itch, long to strike you.
164-7. we scarce ... her. Cp. M. A. iv. 1. 129-31, "Grieved I,
I had but one? Chid I for that at frugal nature's frame? O, one
too much by thee! Why had I one?": lent, the first quarto
gives sent, which many editors adopt, but which seems to me a
very inferior reading: in but and only there is a redundancy.
168. hilding, see note on ii. 4. 44.
169. to rate her so, in scolding her so bitterly; to rate, the
infinitive used indefinitively; see Abb. § 356.
170. my lady wisdom! you, my fine lady, who set up for being
171. prudence. "Just as 'prudence' is here personified as a
female, it was in The Temp. ii. 1. 286, personified as a male"
(Delius): smatter with, vent your smatterings of wisdom, utter
your bits and scraps of wisdom; gossips, see note on ii. 1.11.
172. God ye god-den, see note on 1.2.57. In order to mend the
metre Theobald reads "Peace, peace," etc.; Fleay "speak t'ye."
174. Utter ... bowl, go and utter your platitudes among your
cronies as you sit sipping your bowl of wine; cp. M. N. D. ii. 1.
47, "And sometimes lurk I in a gossip's bowl."
175. hot, passionate.
176. God's bread! by the bread of the holy sacrament!
176-8. God's bread ... company. Many conjectures have been
proposed here, the most satisfactory of which seems to be that of
Fleay, whom Daniel follows; "Lady Cap. You are too hot.
Cap. God's bread! it makes me mad; Day-time, night-tide,
waking or sleeping hour. At home, abroad, alone, in company,
Working or playing, still my care hath been To have her
match'd." The reasoning on which this conjecture is based is
extremely ingenious, but too long to be quoted here.
179. To have her match'd, to get her a worthy husband.
182. Stuff'd, full of; Capulet speaks of the word as if when
used in this sense it was somewhat ridiculous, as they say, just
as we might say 'crammed'; though the term is used in all
seriousness in W. T. ii. 1. 185, "whom you know Of stuff'd
sufficiency"; M. A. i. 1. 56, "stuffed with all honourable
183. Proportion'd ... man, every part as completely in proportion with the rest as one could possibly wish if he were conceiving a perfect man.
184. puling, whimpering; literally to chirp like a bird; from
F. piauler, 'to peep, or cheep, as a young bird; also to pule or
howle, as a young whelp'; Cotgrave. Cp. Ital. pigolare, to
chirp, moan, complain. These are imitative words "... (Skeat,
185. mammet, puppet, doll: in her fortune's tender, "in the
moment when good fortune presents itself to her" (Clarke).
188. I'll pardon you, said ironically, his pardon being only
such as he expresses in the following line.
189. Graze ... me, you can go and get your food in the fields,
for there will be no home for you in my house.
190. do not use. We no longer employ the verb in this sense in
the present tense.
191. lay ... advise, consider the matter thoroughly and be wise;
to 'lay the hand on the heart' is a gesture used in protesting the
reality of the feeling expressed; advise, consider; so reflexively,
T. N. iv. 2. 102, "Advise you what you say."
196. Trust to 't, be sure I mean what I say.
199. Sweet my mother, on the transposition of my, see Abb.
203. I'll not speak a word, sc in your behalf.
204. for I ... thee, for I have nothing more to do with you, I
wash my hands of you and your concerns.
206-9. My husband ... earth, all that I love, my husband, is on
earth; all that I trust in, my belief in God, is in heaven; how
shall trust come back to earth and be felt by me in regard to
earthly matters unless he in whom all my love is placed send it
to me, a thing he cannot do without leaving earth, while, if he
did so, I should no longer have any interest in earthly matters;
if my husband lives, I have no hope of earthly happiness (for we
can never be together), if he dies, my case is equally hopeless.
Such I take to be the meaning of the passage, which seems to be
obscure, but on which none of the commentators has any
210. practise stratagems, contrive plots; practise (vb.) and
practice (sb.) being frequently used by Shakespeare in a bad sense.
214. and all ... nothing, it is beyond all odds.
215. challenge, claim.
218. you married, that you should marry.
220. a dishclout, a dirty rag; not that dishclouts are necessarily dirty, though in the Nurse's mind that would be their more
221. green. Though rare in England and not greatly admired,
green eyes, as the commentators show, have been enthusiastically
praised by foreign writers, especially Spanish writers.
222. Beshrew, see note on ii. 5. 51.
225, 6. or 'twere ... him, or, if he is not dead, he might just as
well be so as be alive here when you can derive no pleasure from
his companionship; here seems rather questionable, and Hanmer
227. Speakest ... heart? a phrase varied in Lear, i. 1. 106, by
"But goes thy heart with this?"
228. Amen! Juliet emphatically endorses the Nurse's malediction on herself.
229. Well. Afraid that she has roused the Nurse's suspicions by
her emphatic "Amen!", Juliet tries to put her off by assuming a
good-humoured tone: marvellous, used adverbially.
230. my lady, using the term which would be proper in the
Nurse's mouth: I am gone, the difference between 'am gone' and
'have gone' is that the former expresses the present state, the
latter the activity necessary to cause the present state; see Abb.
234. Ancient damnation! the old devil!
237. above compare, as being above all comparison.
238. counsellor, you from whom I have so often asked and
received advice (as in 1. 209 she says "counsel me"), but here
240. his remedy, what remedy he may suggest.
241. myself. Strictly speaking the 'my' in myself is not a pronominal adjective but the inflected case of the pronoun 'I,' and
myself is equivalent to 'for the same me'; see Abb. § 20.
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) < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_3_5.html >.