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.

The Tempest: Act 1, Scene 1

           A tempestuous noise of thunder
           and lightning heard. Enter a
           SHIP-MASTER and a BOATSWAIN.
BOATSWAIN: He's the petty officer who supervises the work of the crew.

  1   Boatswain!

  2   Here, master: what cheer?
2. Here: Short for "I'm right here." What cheer? This is a traditional greeting; here it means "How we doing?"

  3   Good, speak to the mariners: fall to't, yarely,
3. Good: Short for "Good man." Here, it's a term of respect. yarely: smartly, nimbly.

  4   or we run ourselves aground: bestir, bestir.


           Enter MARINERS.

  5   Heigh, my hearts! cheerly, cheerly, my hearts!
  6   yare, yare! Take in the topsail. Tend to the
6. Tend: mind, pay attention to. Bosun's Whistle
7-8. Blow . . . if room enough: —The Boatswain is yelling at the storm, telling it that his ship can ride out the storm so long as it has sea-room in which to maneuver without running aground.

  7   master's whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind,
  8   if room enough!

           FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others.

  9   Good boatswain, have care. Where's the master?
 10   Play the men.
10. Play the men: whistle orders to the sailors. —It is ironic that Alonso is so panicked that he doesn't realize that the men are already following the orders being given via the master's whistle.
Boatswain by Walter Crane

 11   I pray now, keep below.

 12   Where is the master, boatswain?

 13   Do you not hear him? You mar our labor: keep your
 14   cabins: you do assist the storm.

 15   Nay, good, be patient.
15. good: Short for "good man." Here it's a bit condescending.

 16   When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarers
16. roarers: waves and winds. —Also, "roaring boy" was a term for a swaggering bully.

 17   for the name of king? To cabin: silence!
 18   trouble us not.

 19   Good, yet remember whom thou hast aboard.
19. remember . . . aboard: Gonzalo believes the boatswain ought to be more respectful to Alonso, a king, and Antonio, a duke.

 20   None that I more love than myself. You are a
 21   counsellor; if you can command these elements to
21. counsellor: member of the King's council, and therefore a person of authority. 22. work the peace of the present: bring calm to our present circumstances. 23. hand: handle.

 22   silence, and work the peace of the present, we will
 23   not hand a rope more; use your authority: if you
 24   cannot, give thanks you have lived so long, and make
 25   yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of
 26   the hour, if it so hap. Cheerly, good hearts! Out
26. hap: happen.

 27   of our way, I say.


 28   I have great comfort from this fellow: methinks he
28-30. he hath . . . gallows: Alluding to the proverb "He that is born to be hanged need fear no drowning." 29. complexion: temperament. 31-32. make the rope . . . gallows: make the rope that will hang him our anchor chain, since our actual one now does us little good.

 29   hath no drowning mark upon him; his complexion is
 30   perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his
 31   hanging: make the rope of his destiny our cable,
 32   for our own doth little advantage. If he be not
 33   born to be hanged, our case is miserable.
33. our case is miserable: our circumstances are desperate.


           Enter BOATSWAIN.

 34   Down with the topmast! yare! lower, lower! Bring
34-35. Bring her to try with main-course: Keep her close to the wind by means of the mainsail. If the ship is "close to the wind" (sailing as much as possible toward direction that the wind comes from), it has a chance of riding over the waves, but if the ship gets crosswise to the wind it is likely to capsize.

 35   her to try with main-course.

           (A cry within.)

 36   A plague upon this howling! they are louder than
 37   the weather or our office.
37. office: duties. The Boatswain means that his passengers are making so much noise that it drowns out the orders he is giving to the sailors.

           Enter SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, and GONZALO.

 38   Yet again! what do you here? Shall we give o'er
 39   and drown? Have you a mind to sink?
38. give o'er: give up.

Illustration by Boitard

 40   A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous,
 41   incharitable dog!

 42   Work you then.

 43   Hang, cur! hang, you whoreson, insolent noisemaker!
 44   We are less afraid to be drowned than
 45   thou art.

 46   I'll warrant him for drowning; though the ship were
46. warrant him for drowning: guarantee that he will never be drowned.

 47   no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an
 48   unstanched wench.
48. unstanched: not watertight. wench: girl, young woman, female servant, wanton woman. >>>

 49   Lay her a-hold, a-hold! set her two courses off to
49. a-hold: a-hull, close to the wind. courses: points of the compass. off to sea: offshore; out into open water.

 50   sea again; lay her off.

           Enter MARINERS wet.

 51   All lost! to prayers, to prayers! all
 52   lost!


 53   What, must our mouths be cold?
53. must our mouths be cold?: must we die?

 54   The king and prince at prayers! let's assist them,
 55   For our case is as theirs.

 55                                     I'm out of patience.

 56   We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards:
56. merely: simply.

 57   This wide-chapp'd rascal—would thou mightst lie
57. wide-chapp'd: big-mouthed, loud-mouthed. 57‑58. lie . . . ten tides! Pirates were hanged at the low water mark and left there until three tides had washed over them.

 58   The washing of ten tides!

 58                                           He'll be hang'd yet,
 59   Though every drop of water swear against it
 60   And gape at widest to glut him.
60. gape at widest to glut him: open its mouth to the widest in order to gulp him down.

           A confused noise within:

 60                                                   'Mercy on us!'—
 61   'We split, we split!'—'Farewell, my wife and children!'—
61. split: break apart.

 62   'Farewell, brother!'—'We split, we split, we split!'.

           [Exit Boatswain]

 63   Let's all sink with the king.

 64   Let's take leave of him.
64. take leave of him: say goodbye (and save ourselves).

           Exit [with Antonio]

 65   Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for
65. furlongs: about 220 yards.

 66   an acre of barren ground, long heath, brown furze,
66. heath: heather. furze: gorse. Both plants grow in scrubland that is no good for farming.

 67   any thing. The wills above be done! but I would
 68   fain die a dry death.
68. fain: rather.