-- 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 1991-2172
These said, the old man straight is gone in haste away,
Ne for his daughter's answer would the testy father stay.
And after him his wife doth follow out of door,
And there they leave their chidden child kneeling upon the floor:
Then she that oft had seen the fury of her sire,
Dreading what might come of his rage, nould farther stir his ire.
Unto her chamber she withdrew herself apart,
Where she was wonted to unload the sorrows of her heart.
There did she not so much busy her eyes in sleeping,
The fast falling of tears make not her tears decrease,
Ne, by the pouring forth of plaint, the cause of plaint doth cease.
So that to th'end the moan and sorrow may decay,
The best is that she seek some mean to take the cause away.
Her weary bed betime the woeful wight forsakes,
And to Saint Francis' church to mass her way devoutly takes.
The friar forth is called; she prays him hear her shrift;
Devotion is in so young years a rare and precious gift.
When on her tender knees the dainty lady kneels,
With sighs and salted tears her shriving doth begin,
For she of heapéd sorrows hath to speak, and not of sin.
Her voice with piteous plaint was made already hoarse,
And hasty sobs, when she would speak, brake off her words perforce.
But as she may, piece-meal, she poureth in his lap
The marriage news, a mischief new, preparéd by mishap,
Her parents' promise erst to County Paris past,
Her father's threats she telleth him, and thus concludes at last:
"Once was I wedded well, ne will I wed again;
For I am bound to have one God, one faith, one make,
My purpose is as soon as I shall hence my journey take,
With these two hands, which joined unto the heavens I stretch,
The hasty death which I desire, unto myself to reach.
This day, O Romeus, this day thy woeful wife
Will bring the end of all her cares by ending careful life.
So my departed sprite shall witness to the sky,
And eke my blood unto the earth bear record, how that I
Have kept my faith unbroke, steadfast unto my friend."
Her gazing here and there, her fierce and staring look,
Did witness that some lewd attempt her heart had undertook.
Whereat the friar astound, and ghastfully afraid
Lest she by deed perform her word, thus much to her he said:
"Ah, Lady Juliet, what need the words you spake?
I pray you, grant me one request, for blesséd Mary's sake.
Measure somewhat your grief, hold here awhile your peace;
Whilst I bethink me of your case, your plaint and sorrows cease.
Such comfort will I give you, ere you part from hence,
So wholesome salve will I for your afflictions find,
That you shall hence depart again with well contented mind."
His words have chaséd straight out of her heart despair,
Her black and ugly dreadful thoughts by hope are waxen fair.
So Friar Laurence now hath left her there alone,
And he out of the church in haste is to his chamber gone;
Where sundry thoughts within his careful head arise;
The old man's foresight divers doubts hath set before his eyes,
His conscience one while condemns it for a sin
To let her take Paris to spouse, since he himself had bin
Not five months past, in that self place was wedded to another.
Another while an hugy heap of dangers dread
His restless thought hath heapéd up within his troubled head.
Even of itself th'attempt he judgeth perilous;
The execution eke he deems so much more dangerous,
That to a woman's grace he must himself commit,
That young is, simple and unware, for weighty affairs unfit;
For if she fail in aught, the matter publishéd,
When to and fro in mind he divers thoughts had cast,
With tender pity and with ruth his heart was won at last;
He thought he rather would in hazard set his fame,
Than suffer such adultery. Resolving on the same,
Out of his closet straight he took a little glass,
And then with double haste returned where woeful Juliet was;
Whom he hath found well-nigh in trance, scarce drawing breath,
Attending still to hear the news of life or else of death.
Of whom he did enquire of the appointed day:
I must give my consent; but, as I do remember,
The solemn day of marriage is the tenth day of September."
"Dear daughter," quoth the friar, "of good cheer see thou be,
For lo, Saint Francis of his grace hath showed a way to me,
By which I may both thee and Romeus together
Out of the bondage which you fear assurédly deliver.
Even from the holy font thy husband have I known,
And, since he grew in years, have kept his counsels as mine own.
For from his youth he would unfold to me his heart,
I know that by desert his friendship I have won,
And I him hold as dear as if he were my proper son.
Wherefore my friendly heart cannot abide that he
Should wrongfully in aught be harmed, if that it lay in me
To right or to revenge the wrong by my advice,
Or timely to prevent the same in any other wise.
And sith thou art his wife, thee am I bound to love,
For Romeus' friendship's sake, and seek thy anguish to remove,
And dreadful torments, which thy heart besiegen round;
Forget not what I say, ne tell it any wight,
Not to the nurse thou trustest so, as Romeus is thy knight;
For on this thread doth hang thy death and eke thy life,
My fame or shame, his weal or woe that chose thee to his wife.
Thou art not ignorant -- because of such renown
As everywhere is spread of me, but chiefly in this town --
That in my youthful days abroad I travelléd,
Through every land found out by men, by men inhabited;
So twenty years from home, in lands unknown a guest,
But in the desert woods, to beasts of cruel kind,
Or on the seas to drenching waves, at pleasure of the wind,
I have committed them, to ruth of rover's hand,
And to a thousand dangers more, by water and by land.
But not in vain, my child, hath all my wand'ring bin;
Beside the great contentedness my sprite abideth in,
That by the pleasant thought of passéd things doth grow,
One private fruit more have I plucked, which thou shalt shortly know:
What force the stones, the plants, and metals have to work,
With care I have sought out, with pain I did them prove;
With them eke can I help myself at times of my behove, --
Although the science be against the laws of men, --
When sudden danger forceth me; but yet most chiefly when
The work to do is least displeasing unto God,
Not helping to do any sin that wreakful Jove forbode.
For since in life no hope of long abode I have,
But now am come unto the brink of my appointed grave,
And that my death draws near, whose stripe I may not shun,
Now ought I from henceforth more deeply print in mind
The judgment of the Lord, than when youth's folly made me blind,
When love and fond desire were boiling in my breast,
Whence hope and dread by striving thoughts had banished friendly rest.
Know therefore, daughter, that with other gifts which I
Have well attainéd to, by grace and favour of the sky,
Long since I did find out, and yet the way I know
Of certain roots and savoury herbs to make a kind of dough,
Which bakéd hard, and beat into a powder fine,
It doth in half an hour astonne the taker so,
And mast'reth all his senses, that he feeleth weal nor woe:
And so it burieth up the sprite and living breath,
That even the skilful leech would say, that he is slain by death.
One virtue more it hath, as marvellous as this;
The taker, by receiving it, at all not grievéd is;
But painless as a man that thinketh nought at all,
Into a sweet and quiet sleep immediately doth fall;
From which, according to the quantity he taketh,
And thence, th'effect once wrought, again it doth restore
Him that received unto the state wherein he was before.
Wherefore, mark well the end of this my tale begun,
And thereby learn what is by thee hereafter to be done.
Cast off from thee at once the weed of womanish dread,
With manly courage arm thyself from heel unto the head;
For only on the fear or boldness of thy breast
The happy hap or ill mishap of thy affair doth rest.
Receive this vial small and keep it as thine eye;
Fill it with water full up to the very brim,
Then drink it off, and thou shalt feel throughout each vein and limb
A pleasant slumber slide, and quite dispread at length
On all thy parts, from every part reave all thy kindly strength;
Withouten moving thus thy idle parts shall rest,
No pulse shall go, ne heart once beat within thy hollow breast,
But thou shalt lie as she that dieth in a trance:
Thy kinsmen and thy trusty friends shall wail the sudden chance;
Thy corpse then will they bring to grave in this churchyard,
Both for themself and eke for those that should come after,
Both deep it is, and long and large, where thou shalt rest, my daughter,
Till I to Mantua send for Romeus, thy knight;
Out of the tomb both he and I will take thee forth that night.
And when out of thy sleep thou shalt awake again,
Then may'st thou go with him from hence; and, healéd of thy pain,
In Mantua lead with him unknown a pleasant life;
And yet perhaps in time to come, when cease shall all the strife,
And that the peace is made 'twixt Romeus and his foes,
Both to my praise, and to thy tender parents' joy,
That dangerless, without reproach, thou shalt thy love enjoy."