Romeus and Juliet: Lines 341-428



  As careful was the maid what way were best devise
To learn his name, that entertained her in so gentle wise,
Of whom her heart received so deep, so wide a wound.
An ancient dame she called to her, and in her ear 'gan round.
This old dame in her youth had nursed her with her milk,
With slender needle taught her sew, and how to spin with silk.
"What twain are those," quoth she, "which press unto the door,
Whose pages in their hand do bear two torches light before?"
And then as each of them had of his household name,
350
So she him named yet once again, the young and wily dame.
"And tell me, who is he with visor in his hand,
That yonder doth in masking weed beside the window stand?"
"His name is Romeus," said she, "a Montague,
Whose father's pride first stirred the strife which both your households rue."
The word of Montague her joys did overthrow,
And straight instead of happy hope, despair began to grow.
"What hap have I," quoth she, "to love my father's foe?
What, am I weary of my weal? What, do I wish my woe?"
But though her grievous pains distrained her tender heart,
360
Yet with an outward show of joy she cloakéd inward smart;
And of the courtlike dames her leave so courtly took,
That none did guess the sudden change by changing of her look.
Then at her mother's hest to chamber she her hied,
So well she feigned, mother ne nurse the hidden harm descried.
But when she should have slept, as wont she was, in bed,
Not half a wink of quiet sleep could harbour in her head.
For lo, an hugy heap of divers thoughts arise,
That rest have banished from her heart, and slumber from her eyes.
And now from side to side she tosseth and she turns,
370
And now for fear she shivereth, and now for love she burns.
And now she likes her choice, and now her choice she blames,
And now each hour within her head a thousand fancies frames.
Sometime in mind to stop amid her course begun,
Sometime she vows, what so betide, th'attempted race to run.
Thus danger's dread and love within the maiden fought:
The fight was fierce, continuing long by their contrary thought.
In turning maze of love she wand'reth to and fro,
Then standeth doubtful what to do, lost, overpressed with woe.
How so her fancies cease, her tears did never blin,
380
With heavy cheer and wringéd hands thus doth her plaint begin:
"Ah, silly fool," quoth she, "y-caught in subtle snare!
Ah, wretchéd wench, bewrapt in woe! Ah, caitiff clad with care!
Whence come these wand'ring thoughts to thy unconstant breast?
By straying thus from reason's law, that reave thy wonted rest.
What if his subtle brain to feign have taught his tongue,
And so the snake that lurks in grass thy tender heart hath stung?
What if with friendly speech the traitor lie in wait,
As oft the poisoned hook is hid, wrapt in the pleasant bait?
Oft under cloak of truth hath Falsehood served her lust;
390
And turned their honour into shame, that did so slightly trust.
What, was not Dido so, a crowned queen, defamed?
And eke, for such a heinous crime, have men not Theseus blamed?
A thousand stories more, to teach me to beware,
In Boccace and in Ovid's books too plainly written are.
Perhaps, the great revenge he cannot work by strength,
By subtle sleight, my honour stained, he hopes to work at length.
So shall I seek to find my father's foe his game;
So, I befiled, Report shall take her trump of black defame,
Whence she with pufféd cheek shall blow a blast so shrill
400
Of my dispraise, that with the noise Verona shall she fill.
Then I, a laughing-stock through all the town become,
Shall hide myself, but not my shame, within an hollow tomb."
Straight underneath her foot she treadeth in the dust.
Her troublesome thought, as wholly vain, y-bred of fond distrust.
"No, no, by God above, I wot it well," quoth she,
"Although I rashly spake before, in no wise can it be
That where such perfect shape with pleasant beauty rests,
There crooked craft and treason black should be appointed guests.
Sage writers say, the thoughts are dwelling in the eyne;
410
Then sure I am, as Cupid reigns, that Romeus is mine.
The tongue the messenger eke call they of the mind;
So that I see he loveth me; shall I then be unkind?
His face's rosy hue I saw full oft to seek;
And straight again it flashéd forth, and spread in either cheek.
His fixéd heavenly eyne, that through me quite did pierce
His thoughts unto my heart, my thought they seeméd to rehearse.
What meant his falt'ring tongue in telling of his tale?
The trembling of his joints, and eke his colour waxen pale?
And whilst I talked with him, himself he hath exiled
420
Out of himself, a seeméd me, ne was I sure beguiled.
Those arguments of love Craft wrate not in his face,
But Nature's hand, when all deceit was banished out of place.
What other certain signs seek I of his good will?
These do suffice; and steadfast I will love and serve him still.
Till Atropos shall cut my fatal thread of life,
So that he mind to make of me his lawful wedded wife.
For so perchance this new alliance may procure
Unto our houses such a peace as ever shall endure."








[an error occurred while processing this directive]