Romeus and Juliet: Lines 955-1140



  The prince could never cause those households so agree,
But that some sparkles of their wrath as yet remaining be;
Which lie this while raked up in ashes pale and dead
Till time do serve that they again in wasting flame may spread.
At holiest times, men say, most heinous crimes are done;
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The morrow after Easter day the mischief new begun.
A band of Capulets did meet -- my heart it rues! --
Within the walls, by Purser's gate, a band of Montagues.
The Capulets, as chief, a young man have chose out,
Best exercised in feats of arms, and noblest of the rout,
Our Juliet's uncle's son, that clepéd was Tybalt;
He was of body tall and strong, and of his courage halt.
They need no trumpet sound to bid them give the charge,
So loud he cried with strainéd voice and mouth outstretchéd large:
"Now, now," quod he, "my friends, ourself so let us wreak,
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That of this day's revenge and us our children's heirs may speak.
Now once for all let us their swelling pride assuage;
Let none of them escape alive." Then he, with furious rage,
And they with him, gave charge upon their present foes,
And then forthwith a skirmish great upon this fray arose.
For, lo, the Montagues thought shame away to fly,
And rather than to live with shame, with praise did choose to die.
The words that Tybalt used to stir his folk to ire,
Have in the breasts of Montagues kindled a furious fire.
With lions' hearts they fight, warely themself defend;
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To wound his foe, his present wit and force each one doth bend.
This furious fray is long on each side stoutly fought,
That whether part had got the worst, full doubtful were the thought.
The noise hereof anon throughout the town doth fly,
And parts are taken on every side; both kindreds thither hie.
Here one doth gasp for breath, his friend bestrideth him;
And he hath lost a hand, and he another maiméd limb,
His leg is cut whilst he strikes at another full,
And whom he would have thrust quite through, hath cleft his crackéd skull.
Their valiant hearts forbode their foot to give the ground;
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With unappalléd cheer they took full deep and doubtful wound.
Thus foot by foot long while, and shield to shield set fast,
One he doth make another faint, but makes him not aghast.
And whilst this noise is rife in every townsman's ear,
Eke, walking with his friends, the noise doth woeful Romeus hear.
With speedy foot he runs unto the fray apace;
With him, those few that were with him he leadeth to the place.
They pity much to see the slaughter made so great,
That wetshod they might stand in blood on either side the street.
"Part, friends," said he; "Part, friends -- help, friends, to part the fray,"
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And to the rest, "Enough," he cries, "Now time it is to stay.
God's farther wrath you stir, beside the hurt you feel,
And with this new uproar confound all this our common weal."
But they so busy are in fight, so eager and fierce,
That through their ears his sage advice no leisure had to pierce.
Then leapt he in the throng, to part and bar the blows
As well of those that were his friends, as of his deadly foes.
As soon as Tybalt had our Romeus espied,
He threw a thrust at him that would have passed from side to side;
But Romeus ever went, doubting his foes, well armed,
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So that the sword, kept out by mail, hath nothing Romeus harmed.
"Thou dost me wrong," quoth he, "for I but part the fray;
Not dread, but other weighty cause my hasty hand doth stay.
Thou art the chief of thine, the noblest eke thou art,
Wherefore leave off thy malice now, and help these folk to part.
Many are hurt, some slain, and some are like to die."
"No, coward, traitor boy," quoth he, "straightway I mind to try,
Whether thy sugared talk, and tongue so smoothly filed,
Against the force of this my sword shall serve thee for a shield.
And then at Romeus' head a blow he strake so hard,
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That might have clove him to the brain but for his cunning ward.
It was but lent to him that could repay again,
And give him death for interest, a well forborne gain.
Right as a forest boar, that lodgéd in the thick,
Pinchéd with dog, or else with spear y-prickéd to the quick,
His bristles stiff upright upon his back doth set,
And in his foamy mouth his sharp and crooked tusks doth whet;
Or as a lion wild that rampeth in his rage,
His whelps bereft, whose fury can no weaker beast assuage;
Such seeméd Romeus in every other's sight,
When he him shope, of wrong received t'avenge himself by fight.
Even as two thunderbolts thrown down out of the sky,
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That through the air, the massy earth, and seas, have power to fly;
So met these two, and while they change a blow or twain,
Our Romeus thrust him through the throat, and so is Tybalt slain.
Lo, here the end of those that stir a deadly strife:
Who thirsteth after other's death, himself hath lost his life.
The Capulets are quailed by Tybalt's overthrow,
The courage of the Montagues by Romeus' sight doth grow.
The townsmen waxen strong, the Prince doth send his force;
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The fray hath end. The Capulets do bring the breathless corse
Before the Prince, and crave that cruel deadly pain
May be the guerdon of his fault, that hath their kinsman slain.
The Montagues do plead their Romeus void of fault;
The lookers-on do say, the fight begun was by Tybalt.
The Prince doth pause, and then gives sentence in a while,
That Romeus for slaying him should go into exile.
His foes would have him hanged, or sterve in prison strong;
His friends do think, but dare not say, that Romeus hath wrong.
Both households straight are charged on pain of losing life,
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Their bloody weapons laid aside, to cease the stirréd strife.
This common plague is spread through all the town anon,
From side to side the town is filled with murmur and with moan,
For Tybalt's hasty death bewailéd was of some,
Both for his skill in feats of arms, and for, in time to come
He should, had this not chanced, been rich and of great power,
To help his friends, and serve the state; which hope within an hour
Was wasted quite, and he, thus yielding up his breath,
More than he holp the town in life, hath harmed it by his death.
And other some bewail, but ladies most of all,
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The luckless lot by Fortune's guilt that is so late befall,
Without his fault, unto the seely Romeus;
For whilst that he from native land shall live exiléd thus,
From heavenly beauty's light and his well-shapéd parts,
The sight of which was wont, fair dames, to glad your youthful hearts,
Shall you be banished quite, and till he do return,
What hope have you to joy, what hope to cease to mourn?
This Romeus was born so much in heaven's grace,
Of Fortune and of Nature so beloved, that in his face,
Beside the heavenly beauty glist'ring aye so bright,
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And seemly grace that wonted so to glad the seer's sight,
A certain charm was graved by Nature's secret art,
That virtue had to draw to it the love of many a heart.
So every one doth wish to bear a part of pain,
That he releaséd of exile might straight return again.
But how doth mourn among the mourners Juliet!
How doth she bathe her breast in tears ! What deep sighs doth she fet!
How doth she tear her hair! Her weed how doth she rent!
How fares the lover hearing of her lover's banishment!
How wails she Tybalt's death, whom she had loved so well!
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Her hearty grief and piteous plaint, cunning I want to tell.
For delving deeply now in depth of deep despair,
With wretched sorrow's cruel sound she fills the empty air;
And to the lowest hell down falls her heavy cry,
And up unto the heaven's height her piteous plaint doth fly.
The waters and the woods of sighs and sobs resound,
And from the hard resounding rocks her sorrows do rebound.
Eke from her teary eyne down rainéd many a shower,
That in the garden where she walked might water herb and flower.
But when at length she saw herself outragéd so,
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Unto her chamber straight she hied; there, overcharged with woe,
Upon her stately bed her painful parts she threw,
And in so wondrous wise began her sorrows to renew,
That sure no heart so hard, but it of flint had bin,
But would have rued the piteous plaint that she did languish in.
Then rapt out of herself, whilst she on every side
Did cast her restless eye, at length the window she espied,
Through which she had with joy seen Romeus many a time,
Which oft the vent'rous knight was wont for Juliet's sake to climb.
She cried, "O cursed window, accursed be every pane,
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Through which, alas, too soon I raught the cause of life and bane;
If by thy mean I have some slight delight received,
Or else such fading pleasure as by Fortune straight was reaved,
Hast thou not made me pay a tribute rigorous
Of heapéd grief and lasting care, and sorrows dolorous,
That these my tender parts, which needful strength do lack
To bear so great unwieldy load upon so weak a back,
Oppressed with weight of cares and with these sorrows rife,
At length must open wide to death the gates of loathéd life;
That so my weary sprite may somewhere else unload
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His deadly load, and free from thrall may seek elsewhere abode
For pleasant, quiet ease and for assuréd rest,
Which I as yet could never find but for my more unrest?
O Romeus, when first we both acquainted were,
When to thy painted promises I lent my list'ning ear,
Which to the brinks you filled with many a solemn oath,
And I them judged empty of guile, and fraughted full of troth,
I thought you rather would continue our good will,
And seek t'appease our fathers' strife, which daily groweth still.
I little weened you would have sought occasion how
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By such an heinous act to break the peace and eke your vow;
Whereby your bright renown all whole y-clipséd is,
And I unhappy, husbandless, of comfort robbed and bliss.
But if you did so much the blood of Capels thirst,
Why have you often sparéd mine -- mine might have quenched it first.
Since that so many times and in so secret place,
Where you were wont with veil of love to hide your hatred's face.
My doubtful life hath happed by fatal doom to stand
In mercy of your cruel heart, and of your bloody hand.
What? -- seemed the conquest which you got of me so small?
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What? -- seemed it not enough that I, poor wretch, was made your thrall?
But that you must increase it with that kinsman's blood,
Which for his worth and love to me, most in my favour stood
Well, go henceforth elsewhere, and seek another while
Some other as unhappy as I, by fiattery to beguile.
And, where I come, see that you shun to show your face,
For your excuse within my heart shall find no resting place.
And I that now, too late, my former fault repent,
Will so the rest of weary life with many tears lament,
That soon my joiceless corpse shall yield up banished breath,
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And where on earth it restless lived, in earth seek rest by death."








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