Romeus and Juliet: Lines 1-24
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 thro' 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,
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.
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.