-- Philip Weller, November 13, 1941 - February 1, 2021
Dr. Weller, an Eastern Washington University professor of English and Shakespearean scholar for more than 50 years.
Romeus and Juliet: Lines 1257-1348
But now is time to tell, whilst she was tosséd thus,
What winds did drive or haven did hold her lover, Romeus.
When he had slain his foe that 'gan this deadly strife,
He fled the sharp revenge of those that yet did live,
And doubting much what penal doom the troubled prince might give,
He sought somewhere unseen to lurk a little space,
And trusty Laurence' secret cell he thought the surest place.
In doubtful hap aye best a trusty friend is tried;
The friendly friar in this distress doth grant his friend to hide.
A secret place he hath, well sealed round about,
The mouth of which so close is shut, that none may find it out;
But room there is to walk, and place to sit and rest,
The floor is planked so, with mats it is so warm,
That neither wind nor smoky damps have power him aught to harm.
Where he was wont in youth his fair friends to bestow,
There now he hideth Romeus, whilst forth he goeth to know
Both what is said and done, and what appointed pain,
Is publishéd by trumpet's sound; then home he hies again.
By this, unto his cell the nurse with speedy pace
Was come the nearest way; she sought no idle resting place.
The friar sent home the news of Romeus' certain health,
Come to his wonted place, that they in needful wise
Of their affairs in time to come might thoroughly devise.
Those joyful news the nurse brought home with merry joy;
And now our Juliet joys to think she shall her love enjoy.
The friar shuts fast his door, and then to him beneath,
That waits to hear the doubtful news of life or else of death,
Thy hap," quoth he, "is good, danger of death is none,
But thou shalt live, and do full well, in spite of spiteful fone.
This only pain for thee was erst proclaimed aloud,
These heavy tidings heard, his golden locks he tare,
And like a frantic man hath torn the garments that he ware.
And as the smitten deer in brakes is walt'ring found,
So wal'treth he, and with his breast doth beat the trodden ground.
He rises eft, and strikes his head against the walls,
He falleth down again, and loud for hasty death he calls
"Come speedy death," quoth he, "the readiest leech in love;
Since nought can else beneath the sun the ground of grief remove,
Of loathsome life break down the hated, staggering stays,
But you, fair dame, in whom dame Nature did devise
With cunning hand to work that might seem wondrous in our eyes,
For you, I pray the Gods, your pleasures to increase,
And all mishap, with this my death, for evermore to cease.
And mighty Jove with speed of justice bring them low,
Whose lofty pride, without our guilt, our bliss doth overblow.
And Cupid grant to those their speedy wrongs' redress,
That shall bewail my cruel death and pity her distress."
Therewith a cloud of sighs he breathed into the skies,
These things the ancient friar with sorrow saw and heard,
Of such beginning, eke the end, the wise man greatly feared.
But lo, he was so weak, by reason of his age,
That he ne could by force repress the rigour of his rage.
His wise and friendly words he speaketh to the air,
For Romeus so vexéd is with care and with despair,
That no advice can pierce his close forestoppéd ears;
So now the friar doth take his part in shedding ruthful tears.
With colour pale and wan, with arms full hard y-fold,
And then our Romeus with tender hands y-wrung,
With voice with plaint made hoarse, with sobs, and with a falt'ring tongue,
Renewed with novel moan the dolours of his heart;
His outward dreary cheer bewrayed his store of inward smart.
First Nature did he blame, the author of his life,
In which his joys had been so scant, and sorrows aye so rife;
The time and place of birth he fiercely did reprove,
He cried out, with open mouth, against the stars above;
The fatal sisters three, he said, had done him wrong,
He wished that he had before this time been born,
Or that as soon as he wan light, his life he had forlorn.
His nurse he curséd, and the hand that gave him pap,
The midwife eke with tender grip that held him in her lap;
And then did he complain on Venus' cruel son,
Who led him first unto the rocks which he should warely shun:
By means whereof he lost both life and liberty,
And died a hundred times a day, and yet could never die.
Love's troubles lasten long, the joys he gives are short;
A thousand things and more I here let pass to write,
Which unto Love this woeful man did speak in great despite.
On Fortune eke he railed, he called her deaf and blind,
Unconstant, fond, deceitful, rash, unruthful, and unkind.
And to himself he laid a great part of the fault,
For that he slew and was not slain, in fighting with Tybalt.
He blamed all the world, and all he did defy,
But Juliet for whom he lived, for whom eke would he die.