The Play

Act 2



Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,


And young affection gapes° to be his heir

That fair for which love groaned for and would die,

With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.

5Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,

Alike bewitched by the charm of looks,

But to his foe supposed he must complain,

And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks:

Being held a foe, he may not have access

10To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear;

And she as much in love, her means much less

To meet her new-beloved anywhere:

But passion lends them power, time means, to meet

Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.



Mercutio and Benvolio wonder where Romeo has gone, and Mercutio mocks Romeo’s love of Rosaline.

Outside the Capulet orchard wall:

Enter ROMEO alone


Can I go forward when my heart is here?

Turn back dull earth and find thy center out.



Romeo, my cousin, Romeo! Romeo!


He is wise, and on my life he hath stolen home to bed.


5He ran this way and leapt this orchard wall.

Call, good Mercutio.


summon (as in a spirit)

Nay, I’ll conjure° too.

Romeo, Humors, Madman, Passion, Lover,

Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh,

Speak but one rhyme, and I’ll be satisfied:

10Cry out at me, “Aye me,” pronounce but “love” and “dove.”

good friend

Speak to my gossip° Venus one fair word,


One nickname for her pureblind° son and heir,[1]

Young Abraham: Cupid–he that shot so true,

When King Cophetua[2] loved the beggar maid.

15He hears me not, he stirreth not, he moveth not.

The ape is dead, and I must conjure him.

I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes,

By her high forehead,[3] and her scarlet lip,

By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,

20And the domains that there adjacent lie,[4]

That in thy likeness, thou appear to us.


And if he hears you, that will anger him.


This cannot anger him. It would anger him

To raise a spirit in his mistress’s circle,

25Of some strange nature, letting it there stand

Till she had laid it, and conjured it down.


That were some spite. My invocation°

Is fair and honest, and, his mistress’s name,

I conjure only but to raise him up.


30Come, he hath hidden himself among these trees


To be comforted by the humorous° night.

Blind is his love, which best befits the dark.


If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark.

Now he will sit under a medlar tree,[5]

35And wish his mistress were that kind of fruit,

As maids call medlars when they laugh alone.

O Romeo, that she were–O that she were

An open arse, and thou a “poperin” pear.[6]

Romeo, goodnight, I’ll go to my trundle bed,

40This field bed is too cold for me to sleep.

Come, shall we go?


Go then, for it is in vain

To seek him here that means not to be found.



He laughs at scars that never felt a wound.




Juliet appears in a window above Romeo, and she thinks she’s alone. She talks to herself, lamenting Romeo’s nature as a Montague. She wishes he would abandon his name, or that she could abandon hers, so that they could be together. Upon hearing this, Romeo reveals himself and professes his love to Juliet. Juliet shares the feelings of love, but worries that Romeo’s feelings might be fleeting. The Nurse calls for Juliet, and the couple once again declares their love for each other, Juliet promising to send somebody to him at nine the next morning.

In the Capulet orchard:

Enter JULIET on balcony


But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?

It is the East, and Juliet is the Sun.

Arise, fair Sun, and kill the envious Moon,

Who is already sick and pale with grief

5That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.

Be not her maid, since she is envious,

Her vestal livery[7] is but sick and green,

And none but fools do wear it. Cast it off.

It is my lady, O it is my love, O that she knew she were.

10She speaks, yet she says nothing. What of that?


Her eye discourses°; I will answer it.

…I am too bold. ‘Tis not to me she speaks:

Two of the fairest stars in all the Heaven,

Having some business, do entreat her eyes

15To twinkle in their spheres till they return.

What if her eyes were there and they in her head?

The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars

As daylight does a lamp; her eye in Heaven

Would through the airy region stream so bright

20That birds would sing and think it were not night.

See how she leans her cheek upon her hand?

O, that I were a glove upon that hand

That I might touch that cheek!


Aye, me.


25She speaks!

O, speak again, bright Angel! For thou art

As glorious to this night, being over my head

As is a winged messenger of Heaven

Unto the white, upturned, wondering eyes

30Of mortals that fall back to gaze on him


When he bestrides° the lazy, puffing clouds

And sails upon the bosom of the air.



O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore° art thou Romeo?

Deny thy father and refuse thy name.

35Or if thou will not, be but sworn my love,

And I’ll no longer be a Capulet.


[To himself] Shall I hear more or shall I speak at this?


‘Tis but thy name that is my enemy.

Thou art thou self, though, not a Montague.

40What’s Montague? It is nor hand nor foot,

Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part

Belonging to a man.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose

By any other name would smell as sweet.

45So Romeo would, were he not Romeo called,

Retain that divine perfection which he owes

remove; cast away

Without that title. Romeo, doff° thy name,

And for thy name which is no part of thee,

Take all myself.


50I take thee at thy word,

Call me but love, and I’ll be new baptized.

Henceforth, I never will be Romeo.



What man art thou, that thus bescreened° by night,

private thoughts

So stumbles on my counsel°?


55By a name, I know not how to tell thee who I am.

My name, dear Saint, is hateful to myself

Because it is an enemy to thee.

Had I it written, I would tear the word.


My ears have not yet drunk a hundred words

60Of thy tongue’s uttering, yet I know the sound.

Art thou not Romeo and a Montague?


Neither, fair Saint, if either thee dislike.


How camest thou hither?

Tell me, and wherefore?

65The orchard walls are high and hard to climb

And the place death, considering who thou art,

If any of my kinsmen find thee here.


fly over

With love’s light wings did I o’erperch° these walls,

For stony limits cannot hold love out,

70And what love can do, that dares love attempt,

Therefore thy kinsmen are no stop to me.


If they do see thee, they will murder thee.


Alas, there lies more peril in thine eyes

Than twenty of their swords. Look thou but sweet,


75And I am proof° against their enmity°.


I would not for the world they saw thee here.


I have night’s cloak to hide me from their eyes,

And, but thou love me, let them find me here.

My life were better ended by their hate

80Than death prolonged, wanted of thy love.


By whose direction found’st thou out this place?


By love, that first did prompt me to inquire.

He lent me counsel, and I lent him eyes.

I am no pilot; yet, were thou as far

85As the vast shore washeth with the farthest sea,

I should adventure for such merchandise.


Thou knowest the mask of night on my face,

Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek

For that which thou hast heard me speak tonight.


90Fain° would I dwell on form°. Fain, fain deny

good manners

What I have spoke. But farewell complements°!

Dost thou love me? I know thou wilst say “Aye,”

And I will take thy word. Yet, if thou swear’st,

Thou might prove false. At lovers’ perjuries

95They say Jove[8] laughs. O gentle Romeo

If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully.

Or if thou think I am too quickly won,


I’ll frown and be perverse°, and say thee nay

So thou wilt woo; but else not for the world.

100In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond:


And therefore thou might think my behavior light°.

But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true


Than those who have more cunning to be strange°.

I should have been more strange, I must confess,

105But that thou overheard, ere I was ‘ware,

My true love’s passion. Therefore, pardon me,

And not impute this yielding to light love,

Which the dark night hath so discovered.


Lady, by yonder blessed moon I vow,

110That tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops—


O swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon,

That monthly changes in her circled orb,

Lest that thy love prove likewise variable.


What shall I swear by?


115Do not swear at all.

Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,


Which is the god of my idolatry°,

And I’ll believe thee.


If my heart’s dear love—


120Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee,

I have no joy in this contract tonight.

It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden,

Too like the lightning which doth cease to be

Ere one can say, “It lightens.” Sweet, good night.

125This bud of love by summer’s ripening breath

May prove a beauteous flower when we next meet.

Goodnight, goodnight! As sweet repose and rest,

Come to my heart, as that within my breast.


O wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?


130What satisfaction can’st thou have tonight?


Th’ exchange of thy love’s faithful vow for mine.


I gave thee mine before thou did’st request it,

And yet I wish it would to give again.


Would’st thou withdraw it? For what purpose, love?


135But to be frank and give it to thee again,

And yet I wish but for the thing I have.

My bounty is as boundless as the sea,

My love as deep; the more I give to thee,

The more I have, for both are infinite.

NURSE calls from within

140I hear some noise within, dear love. Adieu!

[Calls within] Anon, good nurse! [To ROMEO] Sweet Montague, be true.

Stay but a little. I will come again.



O blessed, blessed night! I am afraid,

Being in night, all this is but a dream,

145Too flattering-sweet to be substantial.

Enter JULIET again


Three words, dear Romeo, And goodnight, indeed.


If that thy bent° of love be honorable,

Thy purpose marriage, send me word tomorrow,

By one that I’ll procure to come to thee,

150Where and what time thou wilt perform the rite.

And all my fortunes at thy foot I’ll lay

And follow thee, my lord, throughout the world.


[From within] Madam!


I come, anon! [To ROMEO] But if thou mean not well,

155I do beseech thee—


[From within] Madam!


By and by, I come!

[To ROMEO] To cease thy strife, and leave me to my grief,

Tomorrow I will send.


160So thrive my soul—


A thousand times goodnight!



A thousand times the worse to want thy light.

Love goes toward love, as schoolboys from their books,

But love from love, toward school with heavy looks.

ROMEO starts to go

Enter JULIET again


165Hush, Romeo! Hush! O, for a falconer’s voice

To lure this tassel-gentle back again.[9]

familial duties

Bondage° is hoarse and may not speak aloud

Else would I tear the cave where Echo[10] lies

And make her airy tongue more hoarse than mine

170From repetition of “My Romeo.”


It is my soul that calls upon my name.

How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night,


Like softest music to attending° ears.




175My sweet?


What o’clock tomorrow shall I send to thee?


By the hour of nine.


I will not fail. Tis twenty years ‘till then.

I have forgot why I did call thee back.


180Let me stand here ‘till thou remember it.


I shall forget, to have thee still stand there,

Remembering how I love thy company.


And I’ll still stay to have thee still forget,

Forgetting any other home but this.


185‘Tis almost morning. I would have thee gone,

spoiled child’s

And yet no further than a wanton’s° bird

That lets it hop a little from his hand

Like a poor prisoner in twisted cuffs,

And with a silken thread, plucks it back again,

190So loving-jealous of its liberty.


I would I were thy bird.


Sweet, so would I,

Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.

Goodnight, goodnight. Parting is such sweet sorrow

195That I shall say goodnight ‘till it be morrow.



Sleep dwell upon thine eyes, peace in thy breast,

Would I were sleep and peace so sweet to rest.


Hence will I to my ghostly° friar’s cell.

good fortune

His help to crave, and my dear hap° to tell.




Friar Lawrence carries a basket of herbs and plants as he contemplates the goodness of the earth. Romeo finds the friar. The friar notices that Romeo hasn’t slept, and asks if Romeo slept with Rosaline in sin. Romeo denies it and describes his new love of Juliet. The friar is concerned at how quickly Romeo’s feelings have changed. Romeo convinces the friar to perform a wedding for Romeo and Juliet. The friar hopes that some good may come of it, perhaps even an end to the feud between the Capulets and Montagues.

Friar Lawrence’s cell in Verona; early morning:

Enter FRIAR alone with a basket


The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,

Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light;

And fleckèd darkness like a drunkard reels

From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels.[11]

5Now ere the sun advance his burning eye,

The day to cheer, and night’s dank dew to dry,

I must fill up this reed basket of ours

With deadly weeds, and precious juiced flowers.

The earth, that’s nature’s mother, is her tomb,

10And is her burying grave, and is her womb.

And from her womb children of diverse kind

We sucking on her natural bosom find.

Many for many virtues excellent,

None but for some, and yet all different.

15O, how great is the powerful grace that lies

In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities.

For naught so vile here on the earth doth live

But to the earth some special good doth give.

Nor aught so good but strained from that fair use—

20Used unnaturally—stumbles on abuse.

Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied,

And vice sometimes, by action, dignified.



With the infant rind of this weak flower,

Poison hath residence, and medicine power.

25For this being smelt, with that part cheers our parts,

Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.

Two such opposèd kings encamp them still,


In man as well as herbs, grace°, and rude will°.

And where the worser is predominant,

30Full soon, the canker death eats up that plant.


Good morrow, Father.



What early tongue so sweet salutes me?


Young son, it argues a distempered° head

35If you so soon bade good morrow to thy bed.

Care keeps his watch in every old man’s eye,

And where care lodges, sleep will never lie.

But where unbruisèd youth with unstuffed brain

Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign.

40Therefore thy earliness doth me assure

Thou art uproused with some distemperature:

Or if not so, then here I hit it right:

Our Romeo hath not been in bed tonight.


That last is true. The sweeter rest was mine.


45God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline?


With Rosaline, my ghostly Father? No,

I have forgot that name, and that name’s woe.


That’s my good son! But where hast thou been, then?


I’ll tell thee ere thou ask it me again.

50I have been feasting with mine enemy

Where on a sudden one hath wounded me,

And, by me, wounded. Both our remedies


Within thy help and holy physic° lies.

I bear no hatred, blessed man: for now


55My intervention likewise steads° my foe.



Be plain, good son, and homely° in thy drift.


Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift°.


Then plainly know my heart’s dear love is set

On the fair daughter of rich Capulet.

60As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine,

And all combined, save what thou must combine

By holy marriage. Where, and when, and how

We met, we wooed, and made exchange of vow

I’ll tell thee as we pass, but this I pray:

65That thou consent to marry us today.


Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!

Is Rosaline that thou didst love so dear

So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies

Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.

salt water; tears

70Jesu° Maria, what a deal of brine°

Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline?

How much salt water thrown away in waste,

To season[13] love, that of it doth not taste.

The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,

75Thy old groans ring yet in mine ancient ears.

Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit

Of an old tear that is not washed off yet.

If ever you were you, and these woes thine,

Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline.

80And art thou changed, pronounce this sentence then:

Women may fall[14] when there’s no strength in men.



Thou chidest° me oft for loving Rosaline.


For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.



And bad’st° me bury love.


85Not in a grave

To lay one in, another out to have.


I pray thee, chide me not. Her I love now

Doth grace for grace and love for love allow.

The other did not so.


90O, she knew well,

Thy love did read by rote,[15] and could not spell.

But come young waverer,[16] come, go with me,

In one respect I’ll thy assistant be,

For this alliance may so happy prove,

95To turn your households’ rancor to pure love.


O, let us hence. I stand on sudden haste.


Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.

Exit all



Benvolio and Mercutio wonder where Romeo has been. Benvolio found out from a Montague servant that Romeo never returned home the night before. Benvolio tells Mercutio that Tybalt has challenged Romeo to a duel. Mercutio describes why he hates Tybalt. When Romeo arrives, Mercutio mocks Romeo for being weak because of his love for Rosaline. Romeo neglects to tell them about Juliet. The Nurse enters with a Capulet servant, Peter. Romeo tells her to pass on a message: have Juliet meet him for confessional at Friar Lawrence’s cell that afternoon, where Friar Lawrence will marry them. The Nurse agrees.

Somewhere in Verona; morning:



Where the devil should this Romeo be? Came he not home tonight?


Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.


Why, that same pale, hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline, torments

him so, that he will sure run mad.


5Tybalt, the kinsman to old Capulet,

Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.


A challenge, I would swear.



Romeo will answer it°.


Any man that can write may answer a letter.


10Nay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he dares, being dared.


Alas, poor Romeo, he is already dead: stabbed with a white

wench’s black eye; shot through the ear with a love-song; the very

pin[17] of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt-shaft.[18] And is

he a man to encounter Tybalt?


15Why, what is Tybalt?


More than the Prince of Cats,[19] I can tell you. O, he’s the

courageous Captain of Compliments. He fights like you sing

pricksong,[20] keeps time, distance and proportion; he rests, his

minim[21] rest, one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very

20butcher of a silk button, a dualist, a dualist; a gentleman of the

very first house,[22] of the first and second cause; ah, the immortal

passado! the punto reverso! the hay![23]


The what?


The pox[24] of such antic,[25] lisping, affecting fanasticoes, these new

25tuners of accents! By Jesu, a very good blade! A very tall man! A

old man

very good whore! Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire°,

that we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies, these

fashion-mongers, these pardon-me’s, who stand so much on the

new form that they cannot sit at ease on the old bench. O, their

30bones, their bones![26]



Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.


Without his roe,[27] like a dried herring. O flesh, flesh, how art thou


fishified! Now is he for the numbers° that Petrarch flowed in.

Laura to his lady was but a kitchen-wench; marry, she had a

35better love to be-rhyme her; Dido, a dowdy;[28] Cleopatra, a gipsy;


Helen and Hero, hildings° and harlots; Thisbe,[29] a grey eye or

two, but not worth mention.

[To Romeo] Signior Romeo, bonjour! There’s a French salutation to

baggy pants

your French slop°. You gave us the counterfeit[30] fairly last night.


40Good morrow to you both. What counterfeit

Did I give you?


counterfeit coin

The slip, sir, the slip°. Can you not conceive?


Pardon, good Mercutio, my business was vital, and in such a case

as mine a man may strain courtesy.


45That’s as much as to say: Such a case as yours constrains a man to

bow in the hams.


Meaning to curtsy.


Thou hast most kindly hit it.


A most courteous explanation.


perfect example

50Nay, I am the very pink° of courtesy.


Pink for flower.




Why, then is my pump well flowered.[31]


Well said. Follow me this jest now, till thou has worn out thy

55pump, that when the single role of it is worn, the jest may remain,

after the wearing, solely singular.


O single-soled jest,[32] solely singular for the singleness.


Come between us, good Benvolio. My wits fail.


Swits and spurs, swits and spurs,[33] or I’ll win this match.


60Nay, if our wits run the wild goose chase, I am done: for thou

hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than I am sure I

have in my whole five. Was I with you there for the goose?


Thou wast never with me for anything when thou was not there

sex worker

for the goose°.


65I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.


Nay, good goose, bite not.


Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting; it is a most sharp sauce.


And is it not, then, well served to a sweet goose?


stretchy leather

O, here’s a wit like cheveril° that stretches from an inch narrow

forty-five inches

70to an ell° broad.



I stretch it out for that word “broad”°, which added to the goose,

proves thee far and wide a broad goose.


Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou

sociable; now art thou Romeo; now art thou what thou art, by art


75as well as by nature: for this riveling love is like a great natural°,

jester’s baton

that runs lolling° up and down to hide his bauble° in a hole.


Stop there, stop there.


Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.[34]


Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large.


80O, thou art deceived; I would have made it short: For I was come

to the whole depth of my tale, and meant indeed to occupy the

argument no longer.

Enter NURSE and her man, PETER


Here comes goodly stuff. A sail, a sail!


Two, two: a shirt and a smock.[35]




At your service.


My fan, Peter.


Good Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s the fairer face.


God ye good morrow, gentlemen.


90God ye good evening, fair gentlewoman.


Is it good evening?



Tis no less, I tell ye, for the bawdy° hand of the dial is now upon

the prick[36] of noon.


Out upon you! What kind of man are you?


95One, gentlewoman, that God hath made, for himself to mar.


By my troth,[37] well said. “For himself to mar,” quoth he?

Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I may find

the young Romeo?


I can tell you, but young Romeo will be older when you have

100found him than he was when you sought him.

I am the youngest of that name, for lack of a worse.


You speak well.


Yea, is the worst well? Very well took, in faith, wisely, wisely.


If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence[38] with you.


105She will indite[39] him to some supper.


A bawd,[40] a bawd, a bawd!

So ho!


What hast thou found?


No hare sir, unless it be a hare in Lenten pie,[41] that is somewhat

110stale and hoar[42] ere it be spent.

                                    He walks by them and sings

‘An old hare hoar,

And an old hare hoar

Is very good meat in Lent.

But a hare that is hoar,

115Is too much for a score,[43]

When it hoars ere it be spent.’[44]

Romeo, will you come to your father’s? We’ll dinner thither.


I will follow you.


Farwell, ancient lady; farewell, [singing] ‘Lady, Lady, lady.’



con man

120Marry, farewell! I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant° was this


that was so full of ropery°?


A gentleman, Nurse, that loves to hear himself talk, and will

speak more in a minute, than he will stand to in a month.


If he speak anything against me, I’ll take him down, even if he


125were lustier° than he is, with twenty such Jacks°; and if I could not,

I’d find those that shall. Scurvy knave! I am none of his flirt-girls,

I am none of his skains-mates.[45]

She turns to PETER

And thou like a knave must stand by, and see every knave use me at his pleasure?


130I saw no man use you at his pleasure; if I had, my weapon should

quickly have been out, I warrant you. I dare draw as

soon as another man, if I see occasion in a good quarrel and the law on

my side.


Now afore God, I am so vexed, that every part about me quivers.

135Scurvy knave! Pray you, sir, a word. And as I told you, my young

lady bid me inquire you out; what she bid me say, I will keep to

myself, but first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her in a fool’s

paradise, as they say, it would be very gross kind of behavior, as

they say.  For the gentlewoman is young, and therefore, if you

double cross

140should deal double° with her, truly it were an ill thing to be offered

poor behavior

to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing°.


Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress, I protest[46] unto



Good heart, and in faith, I will tell her as much. Lord, Lord, she

145will be a joyful woman.


What wilt thou tell her Nurse? Thou dost not hear me.


I will tell her, sir, that you do protest, which as I take it, is a

gentlemanlike offer.



Bid her devise some means to come to shrift° this afternoon, and

have confession

150there she shall at Friar Lawrence’s cell be shrived° and married.

Here is for thy pains.

ROMEO offers her money.


No, truly sir, not a penny.


Go to; I say you shall.


This afternoon, sir? Well, she shall be there.


155And stay, good Nurse, behind the abbey wall.

Within this hour my man shall be with thee,

And bring thee cords made like a tackled stair,[47]

Which to the high top-gallant[48] of my joy

Must be my convoy in the secret night.

pay you for

160Farewell, be trusty, and I’ll quit° thy pains.

Farewell. Commend me to thy mistress.


Now God in heaven bless thee! Hark you, sir.


What sayest thou, my dear Nurse?


Is your man secret? Did you never hear say,

165Two may keep counsel, putting one away?[49]


I warrant thee, my man’s as true as steel.


Well, sir, my mistress is the sweetest lady. Lord, Lord, when ‘twas

burbling baby

a little prating thing°. O, there is a nobleman in town, one Paris,


that would fain° lay knife aboard.[50] But she, good soul, would

170happily see a toad, a very toad, than him. I anger her sometimes,

and tell her that Paris is the properer man, but I’ll warrant you,

piece of cloth

when I say so, she looks as pale as any clout° in the versall[51]

world. Doth not rosemary[52] and Romeo begin both with a letter?


Aye, Nurse, what of that? Both with an “R.”


175Ah, mocker! That’s the dog’s name;[53] R is for the—no, I know it

begins with some other letter—and she hath the prettiest

sententious[54] of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good

to hear it.


Commend me to thy lady.


180Aye, a thousand times. Peter?





Before and apace°.

Exit all



Juliet waits for the Nurse to return. When the Nurse returns, Juliet begs her for information. The Nurse delays, saying she’s too tired and her body is too sore. Juliet pressures her until the Nurse gives in and tells her that Romeo is waiting to marry her at Friar Lawrence’s cell.

Somewhere outside the Capulet estate:



The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse.

In half an hour she promised to return.

Perchance she cannot meet him. That’s not so:

O, she is lame![55] Love’s heralds should be thoughts

5Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams

Driving back shadows over lowering hills.

Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw Love,[56]

And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid[57] wings.

Now is the sun upon the highmost hill

10Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve,

Is three long hours, yet she is not come.

Had she affections and warm, youthful blood,

She would be as swift in motion as a ball,


My words would bandy° her to my sweet love,

15And his to me. But old folks,

Many feign as they were dead,

Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.


O God, she comes. O, honey Nurse, what news?

Hast thou met with him? Send thy man away.


20Peter, stay at the gate.



Now, good sweet Nurse—

O, Lord, why lookest thou sad?

Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily.

If good, thou shames the music of sweet news

25By playing it to me with so sour a face.


O, I am weary. Let me rest awhile.

Fie,[58] how my bones ache! What a jaunt I had!


I would thou had’st my bones, and I thy news.

Nay, come, I pray thee, speak. Good, good Nurse, speak.


30Jesu, what haste? Can you not wait awhile?

Do you not see that I am out of breath?


How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath

To say to me, that thou art out of breath?

The excuse that thou dost make in this delay,

35Is longer than the tale thou dost excuse.

Is thy news good or bad? Answer to that.

Say either, and I’ll stay the circumstance.[59]

Let me be satisfied, is’t good or bad?


Well, you have made a foolish choice. You know not how to

40choose a man. Romeo, no, not he, though his face be better than

any man’s; and his leg excels all mens’; and for a hand, and a foot,

and a body, though not much to talk on, yet they are past

compare. He is not the flower of courtesy,[60] but I’ll warrant him as

gentle as a lamb. Go thy ways, wench; serve God. What, have you

45dined at home?


No, no. But all this did I know before.

What says he of our marriage? What of that?


Lord, how my head aches! What a head have I?

It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces.

at the other

50My back a’ t’ other° side! Oh my back, my back.


Beshrew° your heart for sending me about

To catch my death with jaunting up and down.


I’faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.

Sweet, sweet, sweet Nurse, tell me, what says my love?


55Your love says, like an honest gentleman,

And a courteous, and a kind, and a handsome,

And I warrant, a virtuous—Where is your mother?


Where is my mother?

Why she is within, where should she be?

60How oddly thou repliest.

“Your love says like an honest gentleman:

Where is your mother?”


Oh God’s lady dear,[61]

Are you so hot? Marry, come up, I trow.

homemade ointment

65Is this the poultice° for my aching bones?

Henceforward do your messages yourself.


What a fuss! Come, what says Romeo?


Have you got leave to go to shrift today?


I have.



70Then hie° you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell,

There waits a husband to make you a wife.

Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks;

They turn to scarlet, straight, at any news.

Hie you to church. I must another way

75To fetch a ladder by which your love

Must climb a bird’s nest soon when it is dark,

I am the drudge, and toil in your delight.

But you shall bear the burden soon at night.[62]

Go. I’ll to dinner; hie you to the cell.


80Hie to high fortune! Honest Nurse, farewell.

Exit all



Romeo and Friar Lawrence wait at the cell. Romeo says his current joy far outweighs any misfortune that may come. Juliet arrives. They all exit and the friar performs the wedding.

Friar Lawrence’s cell in Verona:



So smile the heavens upon this holy act,

That, after hours, with sorrow chide us not!


Amen, amen, but come what sorrows will,


They cannot countervail° the exchange of joy

5That one short minute gives me of her sight.

Do thou but close our hands with holy words,

Then love-devouring death do what he dare,

It is enough I may but call her mine.


These violent delights have violent ends,

gun powder

10And in their triumph die like fire and powder°.

Which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey

Is loathsome in his own deliciousness


And is the taste confounds° the appetite.

Therefore love moderately. Long love doth so.

15Too swift arrives as tardy as too slow.



Here comes the Lady. O, so light a foot

hardships of life

Will never wear out the everlasting flint°.

spider’s web

A lover may bestride the gossamers°,

That idles in the wanton summer air,

20And yet not fall, so light is vanity.


Good evening to my ghostly confessor.


Romeo shall thank thee, daughter, for us both.


And same to him, else is his thanks too much.


Ah Juliet, if the measure of thy joy

25Be heaped like mine, and since thy skill be more


To blazon° it, then sweeten with thy breath

This neighbor air,[63] and let rich music’s tongue

Unfold the imagined happiness that we

Receive in either, by this dear encounter.



30Conceit°, more rich in matter than in words,

Brags of his substance, not of ornament.

They are but poor folk that can count their worth,

But my true love is grown to such excess

I cannot sum up sum of half my wealth.


35Come, come with me, and we will make short work.

For, by your leaves, you shall not stay alone

Till Holy Church incorporate two in one.

Exit all

  1. Sensitivity note: Cupid is the Greek god of love, often portrayed as a young winged boy wearing a blindfold and carrying a bow and arrow. This is meant to symbolize the randomness of love and attraction, and is where we find the phrase "Love is blind".
  2. King Cophetua: An African king who had no interest in women until he fell in love with a beggar woman outside his palace.
  3. high forehead: a sign of female beauty
  4. Sensitivity note: In referring to and openly discussing Rosaline's body, Mercutio is being purposefully crude in order to draw out Romeo. This type of bawdy humor was a mark of Shakespeare's comedy, and was often done at the expense of the female characters.
  5. Now he will sit…medlar tree: Medlar tree fruit, also called the “open-arse,” was resemble to an anus.
  6. poperin pear: pun for male genitalia; “pop her in”
  7. vestal livery: clothing worn by the maidens of Diana, the Roman goddess of the moon
  8. Jove: Another name for Jupiter, the king of gods in Roman mythology
  9. O, for a falc’ner’s voice / To lure this tassel-gentle back again: Juliet wishes she could call back Romeo the way a falconer calls back a male falcon (“tassel-gentle”).
  10. Echo: a figure from Greek legend; a woman who wasted away from heartbreak and remains only as the voice that echoes back to you.
  11. Titan’s firey wheels: reference to Helios, Greek god of the sun
  12. Benedicte: a blessing
  13. To season: as in to salt
  14. Women may fall: women will fail morally
  15. by rote: memorization without understanding
  16. young waverer: indecisive young man
  17. pin: peg marking the center of a target
  18. butt-shaft: arrow with no barb
  19. Prince of Cats: a figure from a popular story, Reynard the Fox, who is also called Tybalt
  20. Pricksong: or “pricked-song,” is music performed from written notation, instead of from memory or by ear
  21. minim: to rest half a note
  22. very first house: a prestigious school for fencing
  23. the immortal…the hay: Italian fencing terms
  24. pox: exclamation of irritation
  25. antic: possibly grotesque or “antique,” though due to the era’s spelling and the context “antic” is likely
  26. their bones: pun on French “bon”
  27. roe: fish eggs, or the “ro” in Romeo
  28. dowdy: unattractively dressed woman
  29. Laura…Thisbe: classical figures who killed themselves for love
  30. You gave us the counterfeit: i.e., you ditched us
  31. my pump well flowered: i.e., my feet are tired from dancing
  32. single-soled jest: weak joke
  33. Swits and spurs: i.e., make your horse go faster
  34. against the hair: against the grain
  35. a shirt and a smock: meaning, a man and a woman
  36. prick: clock point; male genitalia
  37. By my troth: Upon my word
  38. confidence: The Nurse fumbles on the word “conference.”
  39. indite: Benvolio mocks the nurse by purposefully fumbling the word “invite.”
  40. bawd: a hare; a go-between for prostitutes
  41. Lenten pie: pie with no meat
  42. hoar: moldy; pun on the word “whore”
  43. for a score: to pay for
  44. An old…be spent: If the Nurse were a whore, she would be like old bread that is only eaten as a last resort.
  45. skains-mates: friends who carry knives
  46. protest: The Nurse mistakes the word “protest” for “propose” in the subsequent lines.
  47. cords made like a tackled stair: a rope ladder
  48. top-gallant: the top of the mast of a ship
  49. Proverb meaning two can only keep a secret if one is far away or dead
  50. lay knife aboard: lay to claim Juliet
  51. versall: the Nurse fumbles on the word “universal”
  52. rosemary: In Hamlet, it is said that rosemary is “for remembrance” of the dead.
  53. dog’s name: “R” sounds like a dog’s growl
  54. sententious: the Nurse fumbles on the word “sentence”
  55. Sensitivity note: "Lame," as used here, means feeble or slow. Though "lame" is primarily used to describe someone who is disabled in their leg or foot, it has evolved to mean "uninspiring" or "slow." It is important to be conscious of using words related to disability in a derogatory manner, as it can contribute to a negative connotation surrounding words that are still primarily used to objectively describe differently-abled individuals.
  56. nimble-pinioned doves draw Love: as doves pull Venus in her chariot
  57. Cupid: son of Venus and god of desire, affection, and love
  58. Fie: Here, an exclamation, like “oh!”
  59. stay the circumstance: wait for details
  60. not the flower of courtesy: not very courteous
  61. Oh God’s lady dear: Holy Mary, mother of God
  62. The Nurse is enduring pain so that Juliet may find happiness. However, she suggests that Juliet will soon be the one enduring pain for the pleasure of another when she consummates her marriage with Romeo. The implication is that it will be Juliet's burden as a wife to please her husband. This fits the comedic albeit insensitive tone typical of the Nurse.
  63. This neighbor air: this air we share


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Romeo and Juliet Copyright © 2021 by Rebecca Olson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.