Philip Weller caricature
Philip and Weller hugging

Welcome to my web site, now under development for more than twenty years.   
-- 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.

Romeo and Juliet: Act 5, Scene 1

           Enter ROMEO.

1. flattering: favorable [but possibly deceptive].
2. presage: foretell, predict.
3. My bosom's lord: i.e., Love.  his throne: i.e., my heart.
  1   If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,
  2   My dreams presage some joyful news at hand:
  3   My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne;
  4   And all this day an unaccustom'd spirit
  5   Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.
  6   I dreamt my lady came and found me dead—
7. Strange dream, that gives a dead man leave to think!: i.e., what a strange dream, that gives a dead man permission to think about what is happening!
  7   Strange dream, that gives a dead man leave to think!—
  8   And breathed such life with kisses in my lips,
  9   That I revived, and was an emperor.
 10   Ah me! how sweet is love itself possess'd,
11. but: merely. love's shadows: i.e., dreams of love.
 11   When but love's shadows are so rich in joy!

booted: This part of the stage direction comes from the earliest edition of Romeo and Juliet, known to scholars as "Q1." It seems to indicate that Balthasar has just dismounted from his horse, and is in a great hurry. .
         Enter Romeo's man, [BALTHASAR, booted].

 12   News from Verona!—How now, Balthasar!
 13   Dost thou not bring me letters from the friar?
 14   How doth my lady? Is my father well?
 15   How fares my Juliet? that I ask again;
 16   For nothing can be ill, if she be well.

17. she is well: This statement reflects the Christian idea that a person who dies innocent—free of sin—"is well," because she is destined for heaven.
 17   Then she is well, and nothing can be ill:
 18   Her body sleeps in Capel's monument,
 19   And her immortal part with angels lives.
20. kindred's vault: funeral vault of her kinsmen [the Capulets]. 21. presently: immediately.  took post: hired post-horses; i.e., hurried as fast as I could.
23. you did leave it for my office: i.e., you told me that it was my duty [to bring all news as soon as possible].
 20   I saw her laid low in her kindred's vault,
 21   And presently took post to tell it you:
 22   O, pardon me for bringing these ill news,
 23   Since you did leave it for my office, sir.

 24   Is it even so? then I defy you, stars!
25. Thou know'st my lodging: you know where I'm staying.
26. post-horses: horses for rent.
 25   Thou know'st my lodging: get me ink and paper,
 26   And hire post-horses; I will hence tonight.

 27   I do beseech you, sir, have patience:
28-29. import / Some misadventure: signify that you are about to do something wild and dangerous.
 28   Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
 29   Some misadventure.

 29                                  Tush, thou art deceived.
 30   Leave me, and do the thing I bid thee do.
 31   Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?

 32   No, my good lord.

 32                              No matter: get thee gone,
 33   And hire those horses; I'll be with thee straight.

           Exit [BALTHASAR].

34. Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight:
35. Let's see for means: let me think how to do it.  mischief: evil acts.
 34   Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
 35   Let's see for means: O mischief, thou art swift
 36   To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!
37. apothecary: druggist.
38. late I noted: recently I noticed.
39. weeds: clothes. overwhelming brows: beetle brows.
40. Culling of simples: sorting through medicinal herbs.
 37   I do remember an apothecary,—
 38   And hereabouts he dwells,—which late I noted
 39   In tatter'd weeds, with overwhelming brows,
 40   Culling of simples; meager were his looks,
 41   Sharp misery had worn him to the bones;
42. needy: scanty.
 42   And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
 43   An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
 44   Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
45. beggarly account: paltry assortment.
46. Green earthen pots: unfired clay pots [would be very cheap and fragile]. 47. packthread: cord used to tie up packages.  cakes of roses: rose petals pressed into cake form, used in making perfume.  48. a show: a display.
 45   A beggarly account of empty boxes,
 46   Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
 47   Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
 48   Were thinly scatter'd, to make up a show.
 49   Noting this penury, to myself I said
50. An if: if.
51. is present death: is punishable by immediate execution.
52. caitiff: miserable.
 50   "An if a man did need a poison now,
 51   Whose sale is present death in Mantua,
 52   Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him."
 53   O, this same thought did but forerun my need;
 54   And this same needy man must sell it me.
55. this should be the house: On Shakespeare's scenery-free stage, a character merely has to say he is somewhere, and there he is.  56. Being holiday: There is no mention anywhere else in the play of this day being a holiday; I think Shakespeare just needs an excuse to have Romeo call the Apothecary out to him.
 55   As I remember, this should be the house.
 56   Being holiday, the beggar's shop is shut.
 57   What, ho! apothecary!

           [Enter APOTHECARY.]

 57                                   Who calls so loud?

 58   Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor:
59. ducats: gold coins.
 59   Hold, there is forty ducats. [Offers gold.] Let me have
60. A dram: a little bit. soon-speeding gear: quick-working stuff.
 60   A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
 61   As will disperse itself through all the veins
 62   That the life-weary taker may fall dead
 63   And that the trunk may be discharged of breath
64. hasty powder: gunpowder.
 64   As violently as hasty powder fired
65. womb: belly.
 65   Doth hurry from the fatal cannon's womb.

66. mortal: deadly.
 66   Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law
67. any he: any man.  utters: issues, sells.
 67   Is death to any he that utters them.

 68   Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
 69   And fear'st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks,
70. Need  . . .  eyes: i.e., in your eyes can be seen the starved look of need and deprivation. 71. Contempt  . . .  back: i.e., you are weighed down by your beggary and the contempt (of others) that comes with it.
 70   Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes,
 71   Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back;
 72   The world is not thy friend nor the world's law;
 73   The world affords no law to make thee rich;
74. it: i.e., the law.
 74   Then be not poor, but break it, and take this.

The Apothecary by Sir John Gilbert.
 75   My poverty, but not my will, consents.

 76   I pay thy poverty, and not thy will.

 77   Put this in any liquid thing you will,
 78   And drink it off; and, if you had the strength
 79   Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.

 80   There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,
 81   Doing more murders in this loathsome world,
 82   Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.
 83   I sell thee poison; thou hast sold me none.
84. get thyself in flesh: gain weight, get healthy.
 84   Farewell: buy food, and get thyself in flesh.

           [Exit Apothecary.]

85. cordial: healing medicine, especially a restorative for the heart.
 85   Come, cordial and not poison, go with me
 86   To Juliet's grave; for there must I use thee.