-- 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 1527-1700
The golden sun was gone to lodge him in the west,
The full moon eke in yonder south had sent most men to rest,
When restless Romeus and restless Juliet
And from the window's top down had he leapéd scarce,
When she with arms outstretchéd wide so hard did him embrace,
That well nigh had the sprite, not forced by deadly force,
Flown unto death, before the time abandoning the corse,
Thus muet stood they both the eighth part of an hour,
And both would speak, but neither had of speaking any power;
But on his breast her head doth joyless Juliet lay,
And on her slender neck his chin doth ruthful Romeus stay.
Their scalding sighs ascend, and by their cheeks down fall
Then he, to end the grief which both they lived in,
Did kiss his love, and wisely thus his tale he did begin:
"My Juliet, my love, my only hope and care,
To you I purpose not as now with length of word declare
The diverseness and eke the accidents so strange
Of frail unconstant Fortune, that delighteth still in change;
Who in a moment heaves her friends up to the height
Of her swift-turning slippery wheel, then fleets her friendship straight.
O wondrous change, even with the twinkling of an eye
The same in great despite down headlong doth she throw,
And while she treads and spurneth at the lofty state laid low,
More sorrow doth she shape within an hour's space,
Than pleasure in an hundred years; so geason is her grace.
The proof whereof in me, alas, too plain appears,
Whom tenderly my careful friends have fostered with my feres,
In prosperous high degree, maintainéd so by fate,
That, as yourself did see, my foes envied my noble state.
One thing there was I did above the rest desire,
That by our marriage mean we might within a while,
To work our perfect happiness, our parents reconcile:
That safely so we might, not stopped by sturdy strife,
Unto the bounds that God hath set, guide forth our pleasant life.
But now, alack, too soon my bliss is overblown,
And upside down my purpose and my enterprise are thrown.
And driven from my friends, of strangers must I crave;
Oh, grant it God, from dangers dread that I may surety have.
For lo, henceforth I must wander in lands unknown
Which thing I have thought good to set before your eyes
And to exhort you now to prove yourself a woman wise,
That patiently you bear my absent long abode,
For what above by fatal dooms decreéd is, that God"--
And more than this to say, it seeméd, he was bent,
But Juliet in deadly grief, with brackish tears besprent,
Brake off his tale begun, and whilst his speech he stayed,
These selfsame words, or like to these, with dreary cheer she said:
"Why, Romeus, can it be thou hast so hard a heart;
To leave me thus alone, thou cause of my distress,
Besiegéd with so great a camp of mortal wretchedness,
That every hour now, and moment in a day,
A thousand times Death brags, as he would reave my life away?
Yet such is my mishap, O cruel destiny,
That still I live, and wish for death, but yet can never die;
So that just cause I have to think, as seemeth me,
That froward Fortune did of late with cruel Death agree
To lengthen loathéd life, to pleasure in my pain,
And thou, the instrument of Fortune's cruel will,
Without whose aid she can no way her tyrannous lust fulfil,
Art not a whit ashamed, as far as I can see,
To cast me off, when thou hast culled the better part of me.
Whereby, alas, too soon, I, seely wretch, do prove,
That all the ancient sacred laws of friendship and of love
Are quelled and quenchéd quite, since he, on whom alway
My chief hope and my steady trust was wonted still to stay,
For whom I am become unto myself a foe,
Nay, Romeus, nay, thou may'st of two things choose the one,
Either to see thy castaway, as soon as thou art gone,
Headlong to throw herself down from the window's height,
And so to break her slender neck with all the body's weight,
Or suffer her to be companion of thy pain,
Whereso thou go, Fortune thee guide, till thou return again.
So wholly into thine transforméd is my heart,
That even as oft as I do think that thou and I shall part,
So oft, methinks, my life withdraws itself away,
In spite of all thy foes, thy present parts enjoy,
And in distress to bear with thee the half of thine annoy.
Wherefore, in humble sort, Romeus, I make request,
If ever tender pity yet were lodged in gentle breast,
Oh, let it now have place to rest within thy heart;
Receive me as thy servant, and the fellow of thy smart.
Thy absence is my death, thy sight shall give me life;
But if perhaps thou stand in dread to lead me as a wife,
Art thou all counsel-less? Canst thou no shift devise?
What, shall I be the first? Hath none done so ere this,
To 'scape the bondage of their friends ? Thyself can answer, yes.
Or dost thou stand in doubt that I thy wife ne can
By service pleasure thee as much as may thy hiréd man?
Or is my loyalty of both accompted less?
Perhaps thou fear'st lest I for gain forsake thee in distress.
What, hath my beauty now no power at all on you,
Whose brightness, force, and praise, sometime up to the skies you blew?
My tears, my friendship and my pleasures done of old,
The wildness of her look, her colour pale and dead,
The worst of all that might betide to her, he 'gan to dread;
And once again he did in arms his Juliet take,
And kissed her with a loving kiss, and thus to her he spake:
"Ah, Juliet," quoth he, "the mistress of my heart,
For whom, even now, thy servant doth abide in deadly smart,
Even for the happy days which thou desir'st to see,
And for the fervent friendship's sake that thou dost owe to me,
At once these fancies vain out of thy mind root out,
To hasten forth my death, and to thine own to run,
Which Nature's law and wisdom's lore teach every wight to shun.
For, but thou change thy mind, I do foretell the end,
Thou shalt undo thyself for aye, and me thy trusty friend.
For why, thy absence known, thy father will be wroth,
And in his rage so narrowly he will pursue us both,
That we shall try in vain to 'scape away by flight,
And vainly seek a lurking place to hide us from his sight.
Then we, found out and caught, quite void of strong defence,
I as a ravisher, thou as a careless child,
I as a man who doth defile, thou as a maid defiled;
Thinking to lead in ease a long contented life,
Shall short our days by shameful death: but if, my loving wife,
Thou banish from thy mind two foes that counsel hath,
That wont to hinder sound advice, rash hastiness and wrath;
If thou be bent t'obey the lore of reason's skill
And wisely by her princely power suppress rebelling will,
If thou our safety seek, more than thine own delight,
Forbear the cause of joy, and suffer for a while,
So shall I safely live abroad, and safe turn from exile,
So shall no slander's blot thy spotless life distain,
So shall thy kinsmen be unstirred, and I exempt from pain.
And think thou not, that aye the cause of care shall last;
These stormy broils shall overblow, much like a winter's blast.
For Fortune changeth more than fickle fantasy;
In nothing Fortune constant is save in unconstancy.
Her hasty running wheel is of a restless course,
And those that are beneath she heaveth up again:
So we shall rise to pleasure's mount, out of the pit of pain.
Ere four months overpass, such order will I take,
And by my letters and my friends such means I mind to make,
That of my wand'ring race ended shall be the toil,
And I called home with honour great unto my native soil.
But if I be condemned to wander still in thrall,
I will return to you, mine own, befall what may befall.
And then by strength of friends, and with a mighty hand,
Not in man's weed disguised, or as one scarcely known,
But as my wife and only fere, in garment of thine own.
Wherefore repress at once the passions of thy heart,
And where there is no cause of grief, cause hope to heal thy smart.
For of this one thing thou may'st well assuréd be,
That nothing else but only death shall sunder me from thee."
The reasons that he made did seem of so great weight,
And had with her such force, that she to him 'gan answer straight:
"Dear sir, nought else wish I but to obey your will;
As sign and certain pledge, till here I shall you see,
Of all the power that over you yourself did grant to me;
And in his stead take mine, the gage of my good will. --
One promise crave I at your hand, that grant me to fulfil;
Fail not to let me have, at Friar Laurence' hand,
The tidings of your health, and how your doubtful case shall stand.
And all the weary while that you shall spend abroad,
Cause me from time to time to know the place of your abode."
His eyes did gush out tears, a sigh brake from his breast,