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Romeo and Juliet

by William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 4 Easiest-to-Read Edition

 

 

 



Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 4



A Street

Romeo and Juliet Act 1, Scene 4

Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, with five or six other MASKERS and TORCHBEARERS

Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, with five or six other MASKERS and TORCHBEARERS

ROMEO

What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?

Or shall we on without apology?

 

ROMEO

What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?

Or shall we on without apology?

 

BENVOLIO

The date is out of such prolixity.

(such wordiness is no longer in fashion)

We’ll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,

Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,

Tartar’s painted bow=toy doubly-curved bow like bows used by warriors of Tartary

lath=thin wood

Scaring the ladies like a crowkeeper,

crowkeeper=scarecrow

Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke

(nor no - double negative (not unusual)=nor a)

After the prompter for our entrance.

prompter=announcer

But let them measure us by what they will.

measure us=judge us

We’ll measure them a measure and be gone.

a measure=a measure (portion) of music

 

BENVOLIO

The date is out of such prolixity.

We’ll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,

Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,

Scaring the ladies like a crowkeeper,

Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke

After the prompter for our entrance.

But let them measure us by what they will.

We’ll measure them a measure and be gone.

 

ROMEO

Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.

ambling=tripping along

Being but heavy, I will bear the light.

heavy (as opposed to light)=sad

bear=carry

 

ROMEO

Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.

Being but heavy, I will bear the light.

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.

 

MERCUTIO

Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.

 

ROMEO

Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes

With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead

sole-soul

So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

(so heavy that it stakes me to the ground so that I cannot move)

 

ROMEO

Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes

With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead

So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

 

MERCUTIO

You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings

And soar with them above a common bound.

common bound=average man’s limit

 

MERCUTIO

You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings

And soar with them above a common bound.

 

ROMEO

I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft

(Cupid carried arrows, which inflicted love on people)

To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,

bound (limited) – bound (jump)

I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.

Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.

 

ROMEO

I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft

To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,

I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.

Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.

 

MERCUTIO

And to sink in it, should you burthen love—

Too great oppression for a tender thing.

(love is a burden to you, but you, too, are a burden to love)

 

MERCUTIO

And to sink in it, should you burthen love—

Too great oppression for a tender thing.

 

ROMEO

Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,

Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.

 

ROMEO

Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,

Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.

 

MERCUTIO

If love be rough with you, be rough with love.

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.—

Give me a case to put my visage in!

case=mask

visage=face

A visor for a visor.—What care I

visor for a visor=mask for mask-like (face)

What curious eye doth cote deformities?

cote deformities=note (?) blemishes

Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.

beetle brows=black eyebrows on a mask

 

MERCUTIO

If love be rough with you, be rough with love.

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.—

Give me a case to put my visage in!

A visor for a visor.—What care I

What curious eye doth cote deformities?

Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.

 

BENVOLIO

Come, knock and enter. And no sooner in

But every man betake him to his legs.

betake him to his legs=start dancing

 

BENVOLIO

Come, knock and enter. And no sooner in

But every man betake him to his legs.

 

ROMEO

A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart

wantons=playful people

Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels.

For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase,

grandsire=old-fashioned

phrase – maybe “you can’t lose if you’re not in it”

I’ll be a candle holder, and look on.

The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.

and=but

 

ROMEO

A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart

Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels.

For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase,

I’ll be a candle holder, and look on.

The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.

 

MERCUTIO

Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word.

dun=gray brown

dun’s the mouse – a proverb meaning “be silent and unseen”

constable’s own word – a proverb for a policeman

If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire,

Or—save your reverence—love, wherein thou stick’st

Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!

 

MERCUTIO

Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word.

If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire,

Or—save your reverence—love, wherein thou stick’st

Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!

 

ROMEO

Nay, that’s not so (it’s night).

 

ROMEO

Nay, that’s not so.

 

MERCUTIO

   I mean, sir, in delay.

We waste our lights in vain, like lights by day.

lights=torches

Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits

Five times in that ere once in our fine wits.

 

MERCUTIO

   I mean, sir, in delay.

We waste our lights in vain, like lights by day.

Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits

Five times in that ere once in our fine wits.

 

ROMEO

And we mean well in going to this mask,

mask=masquerade ball

But ’tis no wit to go.

 

ROMEO

And we mean well in going to this mask,

But ’tis no wit to go.

 

MERCUTIO

   Why, may one ask?

 

MERCUTIO

   Why, may one ask?

 

ROMEO

I dreamt a dream tonight.

 

ROMEO

I dreamt a dream tonight.

 

MERCUTIO

     And so did I.

 

MERCUTIO

     And so did I.

 

ROMEO

Well, what was yours?

 

ROMEO

Well, what was yours?

 

MERCUTIO

     That dreamers often lie.

 

MERCUTIO

     That dreamers often lie.

 

ROMEO

In bed asleep while they do dream things true.

(they lie in bed)

 

ROMEO

In bed asleep while they do dream things true.

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

queen – slang for a prostitute

 

MERCUTIO

Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

 

BENVOLIO

Queen Mab, what’s she?

 

BENVOLIO

Queen Mab, what’s she?

 

MERCUTIO

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate stone

On the forefinger of an alderman,

alderman=member of a city council

Drawn with a team of little atomi

atomi=tiny beings

Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs,

spinner=daddy-long-legs spider

The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,

Her traces of the smallest spider’s web,

traces=harnesses

Her collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,

Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,

lash=flexible part of a whip

Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,

wagoner=wagon driver

Not half so big as a round little worm

(it was said that, if girls do nothing, their fingers will sprout worms)

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid. Her chariot is an empty hazelnut

Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,

joiner=carpenter

Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.

And in this state she gallops night by night

Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;

On courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;

she gallops . . .

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

sweetmeats=candies

Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier’s nose,

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.

a suit=a way to make some money

And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail

tithe-pig=pig donated to a church

Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep,

Then he dreams of another benefice.

benefice=church appointment

Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier’s neck,

And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,

(breaking down walls, ambushes, Spanish swords)

Of healths five fathom deep, and then anon

healths=drink to your health

five fathoms deep=huge portion of liquor

anon=soon

Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,

And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab

That plaits the manes of horses in the night

And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,

elflocks=hair treated by elves (matted)

slutttish=dirty

Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.

bodes=foretells

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,

That presses them and learns them first to bear

learns=teaches

bear=bear children

Making them women of good carriage.

This is she—

 

MERCUTIO

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate stone

On the forefinger of an alderman,

Drawn with a team of little atomi

Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs,

The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,

Her traces of the smallest spider’s web,

Her collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,

Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,

Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,

Not half so big as a round little worm

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.

Her chariot is an empty hazelnut

Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,

Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.

And in this state she gallops night by night

Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;

On courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier’s nose,

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.

And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail

Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep,

Then he dreams of another benefice.

Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier’s neck,

And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,

Of healths five fathom deep, and then anon

Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,

And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab

That plaits the manes of horses in the night

And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,

Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,

That presses them and learns them first to bear

Making them women of good carriage.

This is she—

 

 

ROMEO

   Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!

Thou talk’st of nothing.

 

ROMEO

   Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!

Thou talk’st of nothing.

 

MERCUTIO

     True, I talk of dreams,

Which are the children of an idle brain,

Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,

Which is as thin of substance as the air

And more inconstant than the wind, who woos

Even now the frozen bosom of the north,

And, being angered, puffs away from thence,

Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

 

MERCUTIO

     True, I talk of dreams,

Which are the children of an idle brain,

Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,

Which is as thin of substance as the air

And more inconstant than the wind, who woos

Even now the frozen bosom of the north,

And, being angered, puffs away from thence,

Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.

 

BENVOLIO

This wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves.

from outselves=off our course

Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

 

BENVOLIO

This wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves.

Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

 

ROMEO

I fear too early, for my mind misgives

misgives=has misgivings that

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

fearful date=fearsome appointment

With this night’s revels, and expire the term

expire=end

Of a despisèd life closed in my breast

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.

vile forfeit=contemptible defeat

But he that hath the steerage of my course,

Direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen.

 

ROMEO

I fear too early, for my mind misgives

Some consequence yet hanging in the stars

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date

With this night’s revels, and expire the term

Of a despisèd life closed in my breast

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.

But he that hath the steerage of my course,

Direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen.

 

BENVOLIO

Strike, drum.

 

BENVOLIO

Strike, drum.

 

March about the stage and exeunt

March about the stage and exeunt

 

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