-- 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 1875-1990
This pleasant answer heard, the lady parts again,
And Capulet, the maiden's sire, within a day or twain,
Conferreth with his friends for marriage of his daughter,
And many gentlemen there were with busy care that sought her;
Both for the maiden was well shapéd, young, and fair,
Among the rest was one inflamed with her desire,
Who County Paris clepéd was; an earl he had to sire.
Of all the suitors him the father liketh best,
And easily unto the earl he maketh his behest,
Both of his own good will, and of his friendly aid,
To win his wife unto his will, and to persuade the maid.
The wife did joy to hear the joyful husband say
How happy hap, how meet a match, he had found out that day;
Ne did she seek to hide her joys within her heart,
What happy talk, by mean of her, was past no rather
Between the wooing Paris and her careful, loving father.
The person of the man, the features of his face,
His youthful years, his fairness, and his port, and seemly grace,
With curious words she paints before her daughter's eyes,
And then with store of virtue's praise she heaves him to the skies.
She vaunts his race, and gifts that Fortune did him give,
Whereby, she saith, both she and hers in great delight shall live.
When Juliet conceived her parents' whole intent,
Within herself she thought, rather than be forsworn,
With horses wild her tender parts asunder should be torn.
Not now, with bashful brow, in wonted wise, she spake,
But with unwonted boldness straight into these words she brake:
"Madam, I marvel much that you so lavas are
Of me your child, your jewel once, your only joy and care,
As thus to yield me up at pleasure of another,
Before you know if I do like or else mislike my lover.
Do what you list, but yet of this assure you still,
For had I choice of twain, far rather would I choose
My part of all your goods and eke my breath and life to lose,
Than grant that he possess of me the smallest part;
First, weary of my painful life, my cares shall kill my heart,
Else will I pierce my breast with sharp and bloody knife;
And you, my mother, shall become the murd'ress of my life,
In giving me to him whom I ne can, ne may,
Ne ought, to love: wherefore on knees, dear mother, I you pray,
To let me live henceforth, as I have lived tofore;
But suffer Fortune fierce to work on me her will,
In her it lieth to do me boot, in her it lieth to spill.
For whilst you for the best desire to place me so,
You haste away my ling'ring death, and double all my woe.
So deep this answer made the sorrows down to sink
Into the mother's breast, that she ne knoweth what to think
Of these her daughter's words, but all appalled she stands,
And up unto the heavens she throws her wond'ring head and hands.
And, nigh beside herself, her husband hath she sought;
The testy old man, wroth, disdainful without measure,
Sends forth his folk in haste for her, and bids them take no leisure:
Ne on her tears or plaint at all to have remorse,
But, if they cannot with her will, to bring the maid perforce.
The message heard, they part, to fetch that they must fet,
And willingly with them walks forth obedient Juliet.
Arrivéd in the place, when she her father saw,
Of whom, as much as duty would, the daughter stood in awe,
The servants sent away, (the mother thought it meet,)
Which she doth wash with tears as she thus grovelling lies --
So fast, and eke so plenteously distil they from her eyes:
When she to call for grace her mouth doth think to open,
Muet she is -- for sighs and sobs her fearful talk have broken.
The sire, whose swelling wrath her tears could not assuage,
With fiery eyne, and scarlet cheeks, thus spake her in his rage,
Whilst ruthfully stood by the maiden's mother mild:
"Listen," quoth he, "unthankful and thou disobedient child,
Hast thou so soon let slip out of thy mind the word
How much the Roman youth of parents stood in awe,
And eke what power upon their seed the fathers had by law?
Whom they not only might pledge, alienate, and sell,
Whenso they stood in need, but more, if children did rebel,
The parents had the power of life and sudden death.
What if those goodmen should again receive the living breath,
In how strait bonds would they thy stubborn body bind?
What weapons would they seek for thee? what torments would they find?
To chasten, if they saw, the lewdness of thy life,
Such care thy mother had, so dear thou wert to me,
That I with long and earnest suit provided have for thee
One of the greatest lords that wones about this town,
And for his many virtues' sake a man of great renown.
Of whom both thou and I unworthy are too much,
So rich ere long he shall be left, his father's wealth is such,
Such is the nobleness and honour of the race,
From whence his father came: and yet, thou playest in this case
The dainty fool, and stubborn girl; for want of skill
Even by His strength I swear, that first did give me life,
And gave me in my youth the strength to get thee on my wife,
Unless by Wednesday next thou bend as I am bent,
And at our castle called Freetown thou freely do assent
To County Paris' suit, and promise to agree
To whatsoever then shall pass 'twixt him, my wife, and me,
Not only will I give all that I have away
From thee, to those that shall me love, me honour, and obey,
But also to so close and to so hard a gaol
A thousand times a day to wish for sudden death,
And curse the day and hour when first thy lungs did give thee breath.
Advise thee well, and say that thou art warnéd now,
And think not that I speak in sport, or mind to break my vow.
For were it not that I to County Paris gave
My faith, which I must keep unfalsed, my honour so to save,
Ere thou go hence, myself would see thee chastened so,
That thou should'st once for all be taught thy duty how to know;
And what revenge of old the angry sires did find