Internet Shakespeare Editions

About this text

  • Title: Romeo and Juliet (Modern)
  • Editor: Roger Apfelbaum
  • ISBN: 1-55058-299-2

    Copyright Internet Shakespeare Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-proift purposes; for all other uses contact the Coordinating Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: Roger Apfelbaum
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Romeo and Juliet (Modern)

    Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six 455other masquers, torchbearers.
    Romeo What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
    Or shall we on without apology?
    Benvolio The date is out of such prolixity.
    We'll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,
    460Bearing 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;
    465Being but heavy I will bear the light.
    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
    So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.
    470Mercutio You are a lover; borrow Cupid's wings
    And soar with them above a common bound.
    Romeo I am too sore empiercèd with his shaft
    To soar with his light feathers, and so bound
    I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
    475Under love's heavy burden do I sink.
    Mercutio And to sink in it should you burden love,
    Too great oppression for a tender thing.
    Romeo Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
    Too rude, too boist'rous, and it pricks like thorn.
    480Mercutio 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 quote deformities?
    485Here 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.
    Romeo A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart
    Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels,
    490For 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.
    If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire
    495Or -- save your reverence -- love, wherein thou stickest
    Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!
    Nay, that's not so.
    I mean, sir, in delay
    We waste our lights in vain, light lights by day.
    500Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
    Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
    Romeo And we mean well in going to this masque,
    But 'tis no wit to go.
    Why, may one ask?
    I dreamt a dream tonight.
    And so did I.
    Well, what was yours?
    That dreamers often lie.
    Romeo In bed asleep while they do dream things true.
    510Mercutio Oh, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
    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 515spinners' legs,
    The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers,
    Her traces of the smallest spider web,
    Her collars of the moonshine's wat'ry beams,
    Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film;
    Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
    Not half so big as a round little worm
    Pricked 520from 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 525curtsies strait;
    O'er lawyers fingers, who strait 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 530out a suit;
    And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail,
    Tickling a parson's nose as a lies asleep;
    Then dreams he of another benefice.
    Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
    And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
    Of breaches, ambuscados, Spanish blades,
    Of healths five 535fathom 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 540misfortune 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 --
    Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace,
    Thou talk'st of nothing.
    True, I talk of dreams,
    Which are the children of an idle brain,
    Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
    550Which 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 side to the dew-dropping south.
    555Benvolio 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
    Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
    Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
    560With 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 suit. On lusty gentlemen.
    565Benvolio Strike drum.
    They march about the stage and [retire to one side].