Romeus and Juliet: Lines 631-778



  To Romeus she goes; of him she doth desire
To know the mean of marriage, by counsel of the friar.
"On Saturday," quod he, "if Juliet come to shrift,
She shall be shrived and marriéd; how like you, nurse, this drift?"
"Now by my truth," quod she, "God's blessing have your heart,
For yet in all my life I have not heard of such a part.
Lord, how you young men can such crafty wiles devise,
If that you love the daughter well, to blear the mother's eyes.
An easy thing it is with cloak of holiness
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To mock the seely mother, that suspecteth nothing less.
But that it pleaséd you to tell me of the case,
For all my many years, perhaps, I should have found it scarce.
Now for the rest let me and Juliet alone;
To get her leave, some feat excuse I will devise anon;
For that her golden locks by sloth have been unkempt,
Or for unwares some wanton dream the youthful damsel drempt,
Or for in thoughts of love her idle time she spent,
Or otherwise within her heart deservéd to be shent.
I know her mother will in no case say her nay;
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I warrant you, she shall not fail to come on Saturday."
And then she swears to him, the mother loves her well;
And how she gave her suck in youth, she leaveth not to tell.
"A pretty babe," quod she, "it was when it was young;
Lord, how it could full prettily have prated with it tongue!
A thousand times and more I laid her on my lap,
And clapped her on the buttock soft, and kissed where I did clap.
And gladder then was I of such a kiss, forsooth,
Than I had been to have a kiss of some old lecher's mouth."
And thus of Juliet's youth began this prating nurse,
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And of her present state to make a tedious, long discourse.
For though he pleasure took in hearing of his love,
The message' answer seeméd him to be of more behove.
But when these beldames sit at ease upon their tail,
The day and eke the candle-light before their talk shall fail.
And part they say is true, and part they do devise,
Yet boldly do they chat of both, when no man checks their lies.
Then he six crowns of gold out of his pocket drew,
And gave them her; "A slight reward," quod he, "and so, adieu."
In seven years twice told she had not bowed so low
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Her crooked knees, as now they bow; she swears she will bestow
Her crafty wit, her time, and all her busy pain,
To help him to his hopéd bliss; and, cow'ring down again,
She takes her leave, and home she hies with speedy pace;
The chamber door she shuts, and then she saith with smiling face:
"Good news for thee, my girl, good tidings I thee bring.
Leave off thy wonted song of care, and now of pleasure sing.
For thou may'st hold thyself the happiest under sun,
That in so little while, so well, so worthy a knight hast won.
The best y-shaped is he, and hath the fairest face
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Of all this town, and there is none hath half so good a grace:
So gentle of his speech, and of his counsel wise":
And still with many praises more she heaved him to the skies.
"Tell me else what," quod she, "this evermore I thought;
But of our marriage, say at once, what answer have you brought"
"Nay, soft," quoth she, "I fear your hurt by sudden joy."
"I list not play," quod Juliet, "although thou list to toy."
How glad, trow you, was she, when she had heard her say,
No farther off than Saturday deferréd was the day!
Again the ancient nurse doth speak of Romeus,
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"And then," said she, "he spake to me, and then I spake him thus."
Nothing was done or said that she hath left untold,
Save only one, that she forgot, the taking of the gold.
"There is no loss," quod she, "sweet wench, to loss of time,
Ne in thine age shalt thou repent so much of any crime.
For when I call to mind my former passéd youth,
One thing there is which most of all doth cause my endless ruth.
At sixteen years I first did choose my loving fere,
And I was fully ripe before, I dare well say, a year.
The pleasure that I lost, that year so overpast,
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A thousand times I have bewept, and shall while life doth last.
In faith it were a shame, -- yea, sin it were, y-wis,
When thou may'st live in happy joy, to set light by thy bliss."
She that this morning could her mistress' mind dissuade,
Is now become an oratress, her lady to persuade.
If any man be here whom love hath clad with care,
To him I speak; if thou wilt speed, thy purse thou must not spare,
Two sorts of men there are, seld welcome in at door,
The wealthy sparing niggard, and the suitor that is poor.
For glitt'ring gold is wont by kind to move the heart;
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And oftentimes a slight reward doth cause a more desart.
Y-written have I read, I wot not in what book,
There is no better way to fish than with a golden hook.
Of Romeus these two do sit and chat awhile,
And to themself they laugh how they the mother shall beguile.
A feat excuse they find, but sure I know it not,
And leave for her to go to shrift on Saturday she got.
So well this Juliet, this wily wench did know
Her mother's angry hours, and eke the true bent of her bow.
The Saturday betimes, in sober weed y-clad,
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She took her leave, and forth she went with visage grave and sad.
With her the nurse is sent, as bridle of her lust,
With her the mother sends a maid almost of equal trust.
Betwixt her teeth the bit the jennet now hath caught,
So warely eke the virgin walks, her maid perceiveth nought.
She gazeth not in church on young men of the town,
Ne wand'reth she from place to place, but straight she kneeleth down
Upon an altar's step, where she devoutly prays,
And there upon her tender knees the weary lady stays;
Whilst she doth send her maid the certain truth to know,
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If Friar Laurence leisure had to hear her shrift, or no.
Out of his shriving place he comes with pleasant cheer;
The shamefast maid with bashful brow to himward draweth near.
"Some great offence," quoth he, "you have committed late,
Perhaps you have displeased your friend by giving him a mate."
Then turning to the nurse and to the other maid,
"Go, hear a mass or two," quod he, "which straightway shall be said.
For, her confession heard, I will unto you twain
The charge that I received of you restore to you again."
What, was not Juliet, trow you, right well apaid?
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That for this trusty friar hath changed her young mistrusting maid?
I dare well say, there is in all Verona none,
But Romeus, with whom she would so gladly be alone.
Thus to the friar's cell they both forth walkéd bin;
He shuts the door as soon as he and Juliet were in.
But Romeus, her friend, was entered in before,
And there had waited for his love, two hours large and more.
Each minute seemed an hour, and every hour a day,
'Twixt hope he livéd and despair of coming or of stay.
Now wavering hope and fear are quite fled out of sight,
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For what he hoped he hath at hand, his pleasant, chief delight.
And joyful Juliet is healed of all her smart,
For now the rest of all her parts have found her straying heart.
Both their confessions first the friar hath heard them make.
And then to her with louder voice thus Friar Laurence spake:
"Fair lady Juliet, my ghostly daughter dear,
As far as I of Romeus learn, who by you standeth here,
'Twixt you it is agreed, that you shall be his wife,
And he your spouse in steady truth, till death shall end your life.
Are you both fully bent to keep this great behest?"
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And both the lovers said, it was their only heart's request.
When he did see their minds in links of love so fast,
When in the praise of wedlock's state some skilful talk was past,
When he had told at length the wife what was her due,
His duty eke by ghostly talk the youthful husband knew;
How that the wife in love must honour and obey,
What love and honour he doth owe, and debt that he must pay.
The words pronouncéd were which holy church of old
Appointed hath for marriage, and she a ring of gold
Received of Romeus; and then they both arose.
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To whom the friar then said: "Perchance apart you will disclose,
Betwixt yourself alone, the bottom of your heart;
Say on at once, for time it is that hence you should depart."
Then Romeus said to her, both loth to part so soon,
"Fair lady, send to me again your nurse this afternoon.
Of cord I will bespeak a ladder by that time;
By which, this night, while others sleep, I will your window climb.
Then will we talk of love and of our old despairs,
And then, with longer leisure had, dispose our great affairs."








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