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Romeo and Juliet

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ACT III SCENE II Capulet's orchard. 
[Enter JULIET]
JULIETGallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus' lodging: such a waggoner
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaways' eyes may wink and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk'd of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,10
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play'd for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann'd blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven's back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow'd night,20
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess'd it, and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy'd: so tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes30
And may not wear them. O, here comes my nurse,
And she brings news; and every tongue that speaks
But Romeo's name speaks heavenly eloquence.
[Enter Nurse, with cords]
Now, nurse, what news? What hast thou there? the cords
That Romeo bid thee fetch?
NurseAy, ay, the cords.
[Throws them down]
JULIETAy me! what news? why dost thou wring thy hands?
NurseAh, well-a-day! he's dead, he's dead, he's dead!
We are undone, lady, we are undone!
Alack the day! he's gone, he's kill'd, he's dead!40
JULIETCan heaven be so envious?
NurseRomeo can,
Though heaven cannot: O Romeo, Romeo!
Who ever would have thought it? Romeo!
JULIETWhat devil art thou, that dost torment me thus?
This torture should be roar'd in dismal hell.
Hath Romeo slain himself? say thou but 'I,'
And that bare vowel 'I' shall poison more
Than the death-darting eye of cockatrice:
I am not I, if there be such an I;50
Or those eyes shut, that make thee answer 'I.'
If he be slain, say 'I'; or if not, no:
Brief sounds determine of my weal or woe.
NurseI saw the wound, I saw it with mine eyes,--
God save the mark!--here on his manly breast:
A piteous corse, a bloody piteous corse;
Pale, pale as ashes, all bedaub'd in blood,
All in gore-blood; I swounded at the sight.
JULIETO, break, my heart! poor bankrupt, break at once!
To prison, eyes, ne'er look on liberty!60
Vile earth, to earth resign; end motion here;
And thou and Romeo press one heavy bier!
NurseO Tybalt, Tybalt, the best friend I had!
O courteous Tybalt! honest gentleman!
That ever I should live to see thee dead!
JULIETWhat storm is this that blows so contrary?
Is Romeo slaughter'd, and is Tybalt dead?
My dear-loved cousin, and my dearer lord?
Then, dreadful trumpet, sound the general doom!
For who is living, if those two are gone?70
NurseTybalt is gone, and Romeo banished;
Romeo that kill'd him, he is banished.
JULIETO God! did Romeo's hand shed Tybalt's blood?
NurseIt did, it did; alas the day, it did!
JULIETO serpent heart, hid with a flowering face!
Did ever dragon keep so fair a cave?
Beautiful tyrant! fiend angelical!
Dove-feather'd raven! wolvish-ravening lamb!
Despised substance of divinest show!
Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st,80
A damned saint, an honourable villain!
O nature, what hadst thou to do in hell,
When thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend
In moral paradise of such sweet flesh?
Was ever book containing such vile matter
So fairly bound? O that deceit should dwell
In such a gorgeous palace!
NurseThere's no trust,
No faith, no honesty in men; all perjured,
All forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers.90
Ah, where's my man? give me some aqua vitae:
These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old.
Shame come to Romeo!
JULIETBlister'd be thy tongue
For such a wish! he was not born to shame:
Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit;
For 'tis a throne where honour may be crown'd
Sole monarch of the universal earth.
O, what a beast was I to chide at him!
NurseWill you speak well of him that kill'd your cousin?100
JULIETShall I speak ill of him that is my husband?
Ah, poor my lord, what tongue shall smooth thy name,
When I, thy three-hours wife, have mangled it?
But, wherefore, villain, didst thou kill my cousin?
That villain cousin would have kill'd my husband:
Back, foolish tears, back to your native spring;
Your tributary drops belong to woe,
Which you, mistaking, offer up to joy.
My husband lives, that Tybalt would have slain;
And Tybalt's dead, that would have slain my husband:110
All this is comfort; wherefore weep I then?
Some word there was, worser than Tybalt's death,
That murder'd me: I would forget it fain;
But, O, it presses to my memory,
Like damned guilty deeds to sinners' minds:
'Tybalt is dead, and Romeo--banished;'
That 'banished,' that one word 'banished,'
Hath slain ten thousand Tybalts. Tybalt's death
Was woe enough, if it had ended there:
Or, if sour woe delights in fellowship120
And needly will be rank'd with other griefs,
Why follow'd not, when she said 'Tybalt's dead,'
Thy father, or thy mother, nay, or both,
Which modern lamentations might have moved?
But with a rear-ward following Tybalt's death,
'Romeo is banished,' to speak that word,
Is father, mother, Tybalt, Romeo, Juliet,
All slain, all dead. 'Romeo is banished!'
There is no end, no limit, measure, bound,
In that word's death; no words can that woe sound.130
Where is my father, and my mother, nurse?
NurseWeeping and wailing over Tybalt's corse:
Will you go to them? I will bring you thither.
JULIETWash they his wounds with tears: mine shall be spent,
When theirs are dry, for Romeo's banishment.
Take up those cords: poor ropes, you are beguiled,
Both you and I; for Romeo is exiled:
He made you for a highway to my bed;
But I, a maid, die maiden-widowed.
Come, cords, come, nurse; I'll to my wedding-bed;140
And death, not Romeo, take my maidenhead!
NurseHie to your chamber: I'll find Romeo
To comfort you: I wot well where he is.
Hark ye, your Romeo will be here at night:
I'll to him; he is hid at Laurence' cell.
JULIETO, find him! give this ring to my true knight,
And bid him come to take his last farewell.

Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 3


Explanatory Notes for Act 3, Scene 2

From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.

2. Phoebus' lodging, the western ocean. Malone thinks Shakespeare probably had in mind Marlowe's Edward II 42-6, "Gallop apace, bright Phoebus, through the sky and dusky night, in rusty iron car. Between you both shorten time, I pray, That I may see that most desired day, When we may meet these traitors in the field."

3. Phaethon. The son of Helios (the Sun-God), who, when allowed for one day to drive his father's chariot across the heavens, drove so furiously that the horses rushed out of the usual track, and came so near the earth as almost to set it on fire.

6. runaways' eyes. The emendations and their explanations of this phrase occupy twenty-eight pages of small print in Furness's quarto edition of this play. Of those emendations, if emendation was necessary, the more reasonable are runagates, rude day's, Luna's, sunny day's, noonday's, sun-aweary: but no emendation seems required.

17. thou day in night, you (sc. the night) who will be to me bright with all delight.

18. thou, i.e. in effect, the happiness which Romeo's coming will bring, which is synonymous and coeval with Romeo's coming.

20. black-brow'd night, night which though frowning in look is so welcome in Juliet's eyes. Steevens compares K. J. v. 6. 17, "Why, here walk I, in the black brow of night."

21, 2. cut him ... stars, cut him out into patterns or shapes of stars.

[Note: Many people are curious about Romeo and Juliet and its connection to the Kennedy family. In his tribute to John F. Kennedy at the Democratic National Convention in 1964, Robert Kennedy quoted Shakespeare's beautiful words:
When there were periods of crisis, you stood beside him. When there were periods of happiness, you laughed with him. And when there were periods of sorrow, you comforted him. I realize that as individuals we can't just look back, that we must look forward. When I think of President Kennedy, I think of what Shakespeare said in Romeo and Juliet:

"When he shall die take him and cut him out into stars and he shall make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun."

I realize that as individuals, and even more important, as a political party and as a country, we can't just look to the past, we must look to the future.]
23. fine, bright, resplendent.

24. garish, glaring; literally 'staring'; cp. Il Penseroso, 141, "Hide me from day's garish eye."

27. But not possess'd it, but not yet entered upon possession: though I am sold, though Romeo has purchased me at the price of his love.

29. As is the night ... them. Cp. M. N. D. i. 1. 3-6.

33. But Romeo's name, merely his name, that single word.

38. well-a-day. A corruption of walawa, an interjection made up of two interjections wa and la, which was gradually modified into the feebler form 'well-away,' and then into 'well-a-day.' In Per. iv. 4. 49, the word is used as a substantive. Decker writes wellada, as well as hoida or hoyda for the later 'hey-day.'

41. envious, malicious, cruel; as more usually in Shakespeare.

42, 3. Romeo ... cannot, the mischief is not heaven's doing, but Romeo's.

45. What devil ... thus? surely you must be a devil to cause me the tortures of the damned by exclaiming 'Romeo,' 'Romeo,' and keeping me in this suspense.

46. should be roar'd ... hell, hell with its outcries of the tortured would be the fitting place for exclamations that torture me so.

48. 'I,' formerly the adverb 'ay' = yes, was frequently written 'I.'

49. cockatrice, a fabulous creature, said to be from the egg of a cock, and having the form of a serpent with a cock's head, which was supposed to kill with its mere look. Sometimes identified with the basilisk.

50. I am not ... an I, I am a dead woman if it is possible that you should answer in the affirmative as to Romeo having slain himself.

51. Or those eyes ... 'I,' or if those eyes are closed in death, and thus oblige you to answer in the affirmative; with a further pun on eyes and I.

53. Brief sounds ... woe, let brief sounds (i.e. a single word) show whether I am happy or miserable, whether Romeo is alive or dead.

55. God save the mark! This expression, which occurs again in i. H. IV. i. 3. 56, Oth. i. 1. 33, and with the variation "God bless the mark!" in M. V. ii. 2. 25, T. G. iv. 4. 21, has never been fully explained. Schmidt, it is true, has seen that the reference is to personal blemishes, tokens, as they were called, which were considered ominous, and that the phrases "God bless the mark," "God save the mark," were used to avert the evil omen; but in giving the words "saving your reverence, under your pardon," as its equivalent, he somewhat misses its force. To a friend, learned in Irish ways and Irish folk-lore, I owe the following fuller account of the superstition.

"The superstition of the evil eye," he says, "which was originally a purely eastern one, is still prevalent among the Keltic population of Ireland. If a child is born with any peculiar mark on the skin of the leg, face, arm, etc., it is customary for the midwife to touch it, saying 'God bless the mark!' Also, later on in life, if any one laughs at such a mark, and the person who has the mark falls ill, it is firmly believed that the illness is the result of the evil eye. In the year 1867 I knew a peasant's child who had a red mark on his arm. He was playing about when a woman observed this mark and laughed at it. A few days later the child fell sick, and the father went to the woman and accused her of 'making a bad eye' (I translate the Irish idiom) on the child. He then told her that unless she came, spat on the mark, and said 'God bless the mark!' he would bring her before the bench of magistrates. On her refusal, they came before my father who, to satisfy both parties, bade the woman do as the man had asked her. Accordingly the woman went, spat on the place, crossed herself, and said 'God bless the mark!'

The child recovered, as he would have done, of course, without this ceremony, and the woman, having got the name of the 'evil eye,' left the neighbourhood. This treatment for being 'over-looked,' as they call it, has been in the country from time immemorial, and I have no doubt gave rise to the expression 'God bless, or save, the mark!' "Allusion to some such ceremony seems to be made in a line in Beaumont and Fletcher's (?) play of The Noble Gentleman, iv. 4. 93, 'God bless the mark, and every good man's child!"

58. gore-blood. "That is, clotted, congealed blood. ... As the nurse says of Tybalt, 'all in gore-blood,' exactly so would an East Anglian nurse say on a like occasion. Or, perhaps, 'all of a gore,' or 'all of a gore of blood'" (Forby). Halliwell quotes Vicars's Virgil, 1632, "Whose hollow wound vented much black gore-bloud." swounded, swooned; swound is a form frequently found in the old copies of Shakespeare, and swounded is perhaps an intentional vulgarism here.

61. Vile earth, sc. her own body: resign, sc. yourself.

62. press ... bier, make heavy by your weight a single bier; bier, is the frame on which a coffin is borne; from the same root as bear.

66. What storm ... contrary? What storm is this that blows at the same time from two such opposite directions? what calamity is this of such a double and different nature?

69. trumpet, sc. of the Archangel, to be blown on the Day of Judgement.

71. he is banished, for the redundant pronoun after a proper name, see Abb. 243.

75. serpent ... face. Cp. Macb. i. 5. 66, 7, "look like the innocent flower. But be the serpent under it"; iii. H. VI. i. 4. 137, "O tiger's heart wrapt in a woman's hide!"

76. keep, inhabit, occupy; very frequent in Shakespeare, and still in use in the universities, where a man is said to 'keep' in such and such rooms.

79. Despised, hateful; cp. above, i. 4. 110, and below, iv. 5. 59: show, appearance.

82. what hadst ... hell, what were you busy about in hell, and how came you to be there, as you must have been?

83. bower, enclose; the substantive originally means a place to dwell, a chamber, then more commonly a shady recess formed by trees and shrubs, a sense here implied in allusion to paradise, i.e. a pleasure-ground, garden, particularly the garden of Eden.

84, 5. Was ever ... bound. For this metaphor, see above, i. 8. 67.

85, 6. O, that deceit ... palace! Cp. Temp. i. 2. 457, "There's nothing ill can dwell in such a temple"; said by Miranda of Ferdinand.

89, 90. All perjured ... forsworn. With Daniel, I have substituted Fleay's conjecture for the reading of the old copies, "All perjured, all forsworn, all naught, all dissemblers."

91. man, servant: aqua vitae, brandy, or 'strong waters' of some kind.

97. may be crown'd, may fitly be crowned, need not blush to be crowned.

102. smooth thy name, restore to its former state after being mangled by my cruel words; cp. above, i. 5. 98.

105. That villain ... husband, I sufficiently answer my own accusing question when I say that that villain cousin sought my husband's death.

106. foolish tears. Steevens compares Miranda's words, Temp. iii. 1. 73, "I am a fool to weep at what I am glad of."

107. Your tributary ... woe, your drops are properly due to woe; in tributary and belong together there is something of redundancy.

111. All this is comfort, there is nothing in this but what should give me comfort.

112. worser, in form a double comparative.

114. presses, forces itself upon, thrusts itself into.

118. Hath slain ... Tybalts, outweighs to me the death of ten thousand Tybalts; is sufficient to make me acquiesce in the death of ten thousand such relatives as Tybalt.

121. And needly ... griefs, and demands to have some companion calamity; needly, not elsewhere used by Shakespeare.

122, 3. Why follow'd ... both, why did she not follow up her news by saying that my father, or my mother, or both, were dead.

124. Which modern ... moved, news which might have called forth ordinary lamentation; modern, always used by Shakespeare in the sense of commonplace, common, trite; cp. e.g. A. W. ii. 3. 2, "we have our philosophical persons, to make modern and familiar, things supernatural and causeless"; Macb. iv. 3. 170, "where violent sorrow seems A modern ecstasy; the dead man's knell Is there scarce ask'd for who."

125. a rearward, as a rear-guard, as something supplementary; cp. M. A. iv. 1. 128, "For, did I think thou wouldst not quickly die ... Myself would, on the rearward of reproaches, Strike at thy life," i.e. follow up my reproaches by killing you. For rearward Collier conjectured 'rear-word,' which Lettsom approves and Hudson adopts.

130. In that word's death, in the death that is comprised in that single word: sound, i.e. adequately, to the full extent.

133. bring, conduct.

134. Wash they, let them wash.

136. beguiled, cheated of your purpose, rendered useless.

138. made you for, intended you for.

140. my wedding-bed, sc. the grave; cp. above, i. 5. 133.

146. my true knight, it being customary in the days of chivalry for ladies to adorn their lovers with some mark of their favour.

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) < >.


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