Romeus and Juliet: Lines 2611-2688



  The letters closed and sealed, directed to his sire,
He locketh in his purse, and then a post-horse doth he hire.
When he approachéd near, he warely lighted down,
And even with the shade of night he entered Verone town
Where he hath found his man, waiting when he should come,
With lantern, and with instruments to open Juliet's tomb.
"Help, Peter, help," quod he, "help to remove the stone,
And straight when I am gone fro thee, my Juliet to bemoan,
See that thou get thee hence, and on the pain of death
2620
I charge thee that thou come not near while I abide beneath,
Ne seek thou not to let thy master's enterprise,
Which he hath fully purposéd to do, in any wise.
Take there a letter, which, as soon as he shall rise,
Present it in the morning to my loving father's eyes;
Which unto him, perhaps, far pleasanter shall seem,
Than either I do mind to say, or thy gross head can deem."
  Now Peter, that knew not the purpose of his heart,
Obediently a little way withdrew himself apart;
And then our Romeus (the vault-stone set upright),
2630
Descended down, and in his hand he bare the candle light.
And then with piteous eye the body of his wife
He 'gan behold, who surely was the organ of his life;
For whom unhappy now he is, but erst was blissed,
He watered her with tears, and then a hundred times her kissed;
And in his folded arms full straitly he her plight,
But no way could his greedy eyes be filléd with her sight:
His fearful hands he laid upon her stomach cold,
And them on divers parts beside the woeful wight did hold.
But when he could not find the signs of life he sought,
2640
Out of his curséd box he drew the poison that he bought;
Whereof he greedily devoured the greater part,
And then he cried, with deadly sigh fetched from his mourning heart:
"O Juliet, of whom the world unworthy was,
From which, for world's unworthiness thy worthy ghost did pass,
What death more pleasant could my heart wish to abide
Than that which here it suff'reth now, so near thy friendly side?
Or else so glorious tomb how could my youth have craved,
As in one self-same vault with thee haply to be ingraved?
What epitaph more worth, or half so excellent,
2650
To consecrate my memory, could any man invent,
As this our mutual and our piteous sacrifice
Of life, set light for love?" But while he talketh in this wise,
And thought as yet awhile his dolours to enforce,
His tender heart began to faint, pressed with the venom's force;
Which little and little 'gan to overcome his heart,
And whilst his busy eyne he threw about to every part,
He saw, hard by the corse of sleeping Juliet,
Bold Tybalt's carcase dead, which was not all consuméd yet
To whom, as having life, in this sort speaketh he:
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"Ah, cousin dear, Tybalt, whereso thy restless sprite now be
With stretchéd hands to thee for mercy now I cry,
For that before thy kindly hour I forcéd thee to die.
But if with quenchéd life not quenchéd be thine ire,
But with revenging lust as yet thy heart be set on fire,
What more amends, or cruel wreak desirest thou
To see on me, than this which here is showed forth to thee now?
Who reft by force of arms from thee thy living breath,
The same with his own hand, thou seest, doth poison himself to death.
And for he caused thee in tomb too soon to lie,
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Too soon also, younger than thou, himself he layeth by."
  These said, when he 'gan feel the poison's force prevail,
And little and little mastered life for aye began to fail,
Kneeling upon his knees, he said with voice full low, --
"Lord Christ, that so to ransom me descendedst long ago
Out of thy Father's bosom, and in the Virgin's womb
Didst put on flesh, oh, let my plaint out of this hollow tomb,
Pierce through the air, and grant my suit may favour find;
Take pity on my sinful and my poor afflicted mind!
For well enough I know, this body is but clay,
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Nought but a mass of sin, too frail, and subject to decay."
Then pressed with extreme grief he threw with so great force
His overpresséd parts upon his lady's wailéd corse,
That now his weakened heart, weakened with torments past,
Unable to abide this pang, the sharpest and the last,
Remainéd quite deprived of sense and kindly strength,
And so the long imprisoned soul hath freedom won at length
Ah cruel death, too soon, too soon was this divorce,
'Twixt youthful Romeus' heavenly sprite, and his fair earthy corse!