Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, Scene 4




          Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO,
stage direction: MASKERS: party guests who, for intrigue and excitement, wear masks.
          with five or six other MASKERS; TORCH-
          BEARERS.

      ROMEO
1. this speech:
2. Or shall we on without apology?: or shall we just go in and dance without any excuse or explanation?
  1   What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
  2   Or shall we on without apology?

      BENVOLIO
3. The date is out of such prolixity: such long-winded preliminaries are out of fashion. 4-5. Cupid...Tartar's painted bow of lath:
  3   The date is out of such prolixity:
  4   We'll have no Cupid hoodwink'd with a scarf,
  5   Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath,
6. crow-keeper: scarecrow.
7. without-book: memorized.
  6   Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper;
  7   Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
  8   After the prompter, for our entrance;
  9   But let them measure us by what they will;
10. measure them a measure: i.e., dance a dance.
 10   We'll measure them a measure, and be gone.

      ROMEO
11. Give me a torch: As a torch-bearer, Romeo wouldn't dance. 12. Being but heavy: being nothing but melancholy (because of his unrequited love for Rosaline).
 11   Give me a torch: I am not for this ambling;
 12   Being but heavy, I will bear the light.

      MERCUTIO
 13   Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.

      ROMEO
 14   Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes
 15   With nimble soles: I have a soul of lead
 16   So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

      MERCUTIO
 17   You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings,
18. common bound: ordinary leap. Leaping was a favorite feature of the dancing of Shakespeare's time.

19. sore enpierced: deeply pierced. his shaft: Cupid's arrow. 20-21. and so bound, / I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe: and so bound down that I cannot leap to any height above dull woe.



23. And to sink in it, should you burden love: if you sink in love, you will be a burden on love. This is a sex joke.
 18   And soar with them above a common bound.

      ROMEO
 19   I am too sore enpierced with his shaft
 20   To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,
 21   I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe:
 22   Under love's heavy burden do I sink.

      MERCUTIO
 23   And, to sink in it, should you burden love—
 24   Too great oppression for a tender thing.

      ROMEO
 25   Is love a tender thing? it is too rough,
 26   Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.

      MERCUTIO
 27   If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
28. Prick love for pricking: This is another sex joke.
29. case: mask.
30. A visor for a visor: i.e., a mask for a face as ugly as a mask.
31. quote: note.
32. Here are the beetle brows: Mercutio has a mask with beetle brows.
 28   Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
 29   Give me a case to put my visage in,
 30   A visor for a visor! what care I
 31   What curious eye doth quote deformities?
 32   Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.

      BENVOLIO
 33   Come, knock and enter; and no sooner in,
34. betake him to his legs: begin dancing.
 34   But every man betake him to his legs.

      ROMEO
35. wantons: pleasure-seekers.
36. senseless: without feeling. | rushes: Rushes were used to cover floors.
37. I am proverb'd with a grandsire phrase:
39. The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done:
 35   A torch for me: let wantons light of heart
 36   Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels,
 37   For I am proverb'd with a grandsire phrase;
 38   I'll be a candle-holder, and look on.
 39   The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.

      MERCUTIO
40-43. Tut ... Up to the ears:
 40   Tut, dun's the mouse, the constable's own word:
 41   If thou art Dun, we'll draw thee from the mire
 42   Of this sir-reverence love, wherein thou stick'st
43. burn daylight: waste time.
 43   Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!

      ROMEO
44. Nay, that's not so: Romeo makes a little joke by taking the word "daylight" literally; it's not daylight, so they can't be burning daylight.
 44   Nay, that's not so.

      MERCUTIO
 44                            I mean, sir, in delay
 45   We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.
46-47. Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits / Five times in that ere once in our five wits:
 46   Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
 47   Five times in that ere once in our five wits.

      ROMEO
48. mask: party where people were masks.
49. wit: wisdom.
 48   And we mean well in going to this mask;
 49   But 'tis no wit to go.

      MERCUTIO
 49                               Why, may one ask?

      ROMEO
 50   I dream'd a dream to-night.

      MERCUTIO
 50                                     And so did I.

      ROMEO
 51   Well, what was yours?

      MERCUTIO
 51                               That dreamers often lie.

      ROMEO
 52   In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.

      MERCUTIO
53. Queen Mab:
54. midwife: She assists in the birth of men's dreams. 55. agate-stone: agate. Agates were often carved with tiny figures and set into rings.
 53   O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
 54   She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
 55   In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
 56   On the fore-finger of an alderman,
57. atomies: tiny creatures.
 57   Drawn with a team of little atomies
 58   Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep.
 59   Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
60. joiner squirrel or old grub:
 60   Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
 61   Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.
62. spinners': spiders'.
 62   Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners' legs,
 63   The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
64. traces: reins.
65. collars: horse collars.
66. whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film:
 64   The traces of the smallest spider's web,
 65   The collars of the moonshine's watery beams,
 66   Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,
 67   Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
68-69. round  . . .  maid: In folklore an idle person, especially an unmarried girl ("a maid"), grew invisible worms in her blood. 70. state: pomp, magnificence.
 68   Not so big as a round little worm
 69   Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid.
 70   And in this state she gallops night by night
 71   Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
72. on: of. cur'sies: curtsies, bows, kneelings, which will earn the courtiers a return of courtesies, such as purses of gold. | straight: immediately.
 72   O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on cur'sies straight,
 73   O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees,
 74   O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,
 75   Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
76. sweetmeats: candy which sweetens the breath.
 76   Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
 77   Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
78. smelling out a suit: 79. tithe-pig:
 78   And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
 79   And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
 80   Tickling a parson's nose as a' lies asleep,
81. benefice: a lucrative church appointment.
 81   Then he dreams of another benefice:
 82   Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
 83   And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
84. breaches: ambuscadoes: Spanish blades: 85. healths: toasts. five-fathom: thirty feet. anon: immediately afterwards. 86. Drums in his ear, at which he starts: the sound of drums (leading soldiers into a charge), at which he is startled.
89. plats: twists, braids.
90. bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs: 91. Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
93. learns: teaches. | bear: (1) bear the weight of a man; (2) bear children.
94. women of good carriage: (1) women with proper deportment; (2) women who support a lover's weight; (3) women who become pregnant and carry children.
 84   Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
 85   Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
 86   Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
 87   And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
 88   And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
 89   That plats the manes of horses in the night,
 90   And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
 91   Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes:
 92   This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
 93   That presses them and learns them first to bear,
 94   Making them women of good carriage.
 95   This is she—

      ROMEO
 95                Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
 96   Thou talk'st of nothing.

      MERCUTIO
 96                                    True, I talk of dreams,
 97   Which are the children of an idle brain,
98. vain fantasy: idle imagination.
 98   Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
 99   Which is as thin of substance as the air
100   And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
101   Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
102. anger'd: i.e., by lack of success with the cold north. The wind is imagined as a would-be lover, who woos first one woman, then another.
102   And, being anger'd, puffs away from thence,
103   Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

      BENVOLIO
104   This wind, you talk of, blows us from ourselves;
105   Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

      ROMEO
106   I fear, too early: for my mind misgives
107   Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
108. date: appointed time.
109. expire the term: terminate the duration.
108   Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
109   With this night's revels and expire the term
110   Of a despised life closed in my breast
111. untimely: premature.
112. He: God? Cupid?
113. lusty: robust, hearty.
111   By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
112   But He, that hath the steerage of my course,
113   Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen!

      BENVOLIO
114   Strike, drum.

          They march about the stage
          [and stand to one side as the
           next scene begins]
.