A line-by-line translation

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 1, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY of the house of Capulet, with swords and bucklers

SAMPSON

Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.

SAMPSON

Gregory, I swear we won’t put up with their crap.

GREGORY

No, for then we should be colliers.

GREGORY

No, because then we’d be waste removers.

SAMPSON

I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.

SAMPSON

I mean, if they make us angry, we’ll draw our swords.

GREGORY

Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar.

GREGORY

Yes, you should spend your life trying to get yourself out of any trouble that might lead to the hangman’s collar.

SAMPSON

I strike quickly, being moved.

SAMPSON

I hit hard, when I’m motivated.

GREGORY

But thou art not quickly moved to strike.

GREGORY

But you avoid getting “motivated,” so you don’t ever have to hit.

SAMPSON

A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

SAMPSON

One of those Montague scoundrels would motivate me.

GREGORY

To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand. Therefore if thou art moved thou runn’st away.

GREGORY

To be motivated is to act, while to be valiant is to face a fight. When you’re motivated, you just run away.

SAMPSON

A dog of that house shall move me to stand. I will takethe wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.

SAMPSON

If I saw a Montague rascl, I’d face him. I’d walk on the side of the street closer to the wall, and so force the Montague into the gutter.

GREGORY

That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall.

GREGORY

Then you must be a weakling, because it’s the weak one who gets shoved up against a wall.

SAMPSON

‘Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

SAMPSON

That’s true, which is why women, being the weaker sex, get thrust up against the wall. So I’ll push Montague’s men into the gutter, and thrust Montague women against the wall.

GREGORY

The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.

GREGORY

The feud is between our masters and us, their servants.

SAMPSON

‘Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids. I will cut off their heads.

SAMPSON

It’s all the same. I’ll be the Montague’s master. After fighting with the men, I’ll be nice to the maids—I’ll cut off their heads.

GREGORY

The heads of the maids?

GREGORY

You’ll cut off the heads of the maids?

SAMPSON

Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.Take it in what sense thou wilt.

SAMPSON

The heads of the maids or their maidenheads. Interpret my comment in whichever sense you prefer.

GREGORY

They must take it in sense that feel it.

GREGORY

It’s the maids you rape or kill or who will have to sense it.

SAMPSON

Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, and’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

SAMPSON

The maids will feel me as long as I can stand upright. Everyone knows I’m a stud.

GREGORY

‘Tis well thou art not fish. If thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-john.Draw thy tool! Here comes of the house of Montagues.

GREGORY

It’s a good thing you’re not a fish, or else you’d be dried and shriveled like salted hake. Draw your sword! Here come some Montague servants.

Enter ABRAHAM and another servingman

SAMPSON

My naked weapon is out. Quarrel! I will back thee.

SAMPSON

I’ve drawn my sword out of its sheath. Fight them! I’ll back you up.

GREGORY

How? Turn thy back and run?

GREGORY

How? By turning your back and running?

SAMPSON

Fear me not.

SAMPSON

Don’t worry about me.

GREGORY

No, marry. I fear thee.

GREGORY

No, indeed, I do worry about you.

SAMPSON

Let us take the law of our sides. Let them begin.

SAMPSON

Let’s make sure the law is on our side by getting them to start the fight.

GREGORY

I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

GREGORY

I’ll frown at them as I pass by them. How they respond is up to them.

SAMPSON

Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. [He bites his thumb]

SAMPSON

No, I’ll bite my thumb at them. That’s an insult, and they’ll be disgraced if they don’t react. [He bites his thumb]

ABRAHaM

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

ABRAhaM

Are you biting your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON

I do bite my thumb, sir.

SAMPSON

I am biting my thumb.

ABRAhaM

Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

ABRAhaM

But are you biting your thumb at us, sir?

SAMPSON

[Aside to GREGORY] Is the law of our side if I say “ay”?

SAMPSON

[To GREGORY so that only he can hear] Will the law be on our side if I say yes?

GREGORY

[Aside to SAMPSON] No.

GREGORY

[To SAMPSON so that only he can hear] No.

SAMPSON

No, sir. I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bitemy thumb, sir.

SAMPSON

I’m not biting my thumb at you, sir. But I am biting my thumb, sir.

GREGORY

Do you quarrel, sir?

GREGORY

Do you want to fight us, sir?

ABRAhaM

Quarrel, sir? No, sir.

ABRAhaM

Fight, sir? No, sir.

SAMPSON

But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a manas you.

SAMPSON

If you do want to fight, sir, then I’m up for it. My master is as good as yours.

ABRAhaM

No better.

ABRAhaM

But not better than mine.

SAMPSON

Well, sir.

SAMPSON

Very well then, sir.

Enter BENVOLIO

GREGORY

[Aside to SAMPSON] Say “better.” Here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.

GREGORY

[To SAMPSON so that only he can hear] Say “better.” One of our master’s kinsmen has just arrived.

SAMPSON

[To ABRAHAM] Yes, better, sir.

SAMPSON

[To ABRAHAM] Yes, my master is better than yours, sir.

ABRAhaM

You lie.

ABRAhaM

You’re a liar.

SAMPSON

Draw, if you be men.—Gregory, remember thy washing blow.

SAMPSON

Draw your swords, if you’re men. Gregory, get ready to slash them.

They fight.

BENVOLIO

[Draws his sword] Part, fools!Put up your swords. You know not what you do.

BENVOLIO

[He takes out his sword] Break it up, fools! Sheathe your swords. You don’t know what you’re doing.

Enter TYBALT

TYBALT

What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?Turn thee, Benvolio. Look upon thy death.

TYBALT

What, have you drawn your sword to fight with servants? Turn around, Benvolio, and see the man who will kill you.

BENVOLIO

I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,Or manage it to part these men with me.

BENVOLIO

I’m just trying to keep the peace. Put away your sword, or else use it to help me stop this fighting.

TYBALT

What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.Have at thee, coward!

TYBALT

You hold your sword drawn out, and say “peace?” I hate that word, just as I hate hell, all Montagues, and you. Now let's fight, you coward!

They fight. Enter three or four CITIZENS, with clubs or partisans

CITIZENS

Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

CITIZENS

Beat them down with your clubs, spears, and axes. Hit them! Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

Enter old CAPULET in his gown, and his wife, LADY CAPULET

CAPULET

What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

CAPULET

What is this noise? Give me my long sword. Now!

LADY CAPULET

A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

LADY CAPULET

You need a crutch! Why are you calling for a sword?

Enter old MONTAGUE and his wife, LADY MONTAGUE

CAPULET

My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

CAPULET

Give me my sword, I said! Old Montague has arrived, and he’s waving his sword just to spite me.

MONTAGUE

Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not. Let me go.

MONTAGUE

You are a villain, Capulet! [LADY MONTAGUE grabs his arm] Let go of me. Don’t stop me.

LADY MONTAGUE

Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

LADY MONTAGUE

You’re not taking one step to try to fight an enemy.

Enter PRINCE ESCALUS, with his train

PRINCE

Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, Profaners of this neighbor-stainèd steel!— Will they not hear? —What, ho! You men, you beasts, That quench the fire of your pernicious rage With purple fountains issuing from your veins, On pain of torture, from those bloody hands Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground, And hear the sentence of your movèd prince. Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word, By thee, old Capulet, and Montague, Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets And made Verona’s ancient Citizens Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments, To wield old partisans in hands as old, Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate. If ever you disturb our streets again, Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace. For this time, all the rest depart away. You, Capulet, shall go along with me, And, Montague, come you this afternoon To know our farther pleasure in this case, To old Free-town, our common judgment-place. Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

PRINCE

You rebels and enemies of the peace, who curse your own weapons by turning them on your neighbors. 

[To himself] Can they not hear me? 

[To the fighters] Silence! You men, you beasts, who can only put out the fire of your anger by spilling fountains of blood. I will torture you unless you drop your weapons from your bloody hands and listen to me, your enraged Prince. Because of nothing more than a casual word from you, Capulet and Montague, three battles have raged in our city’s streets. These battles have forced even Verona’s elderly citizens to take off their dignified clothes and jewelry and instead pick up old and rusty spears in order to put an end to your fighting. If any of you Capulets or Montagues disturb the peace in the future, you will pay for it with your lives. Now everyone go home. Capulet, you come with me in order to hear what else I want from you. Montague, you come this afternoon to old Free-town, where I deliver my judgments. Everyone else, leave this place right now, or I will have you killed.

Exeunt all but MONTAGUE, LADY MONTAGUE, and BENVOLIO

MONTAGUE

Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach? Speak, nephew. Were you by when it began?

MONTAGUE

Who stirred this old feud up again? Tell me, nephew. Were you around when the fight began?

BENVOLIO

Here were the servants of your adversary, And yours, close fighting ere I did approach. I drew to part them. In the instant came The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared, Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears, He swung about his head and cut the winds, Who, nothing hurt withal, hissed him in scorn. While we were interchanging thrusts and blows, Came more and more and fought on part and part, Till the Prince came, who parted either part.

BENVOLIO

Your servants were fighting Capulet's servants when I arrived. I drew my sword to try to stop them. Just then, the reckless Tybalt showed up with his sword drawn. He taunted me while swinging his sword through the air, which made a hissing sound. As we fought, more and more Capulets and Montagues showed up to join the battle. Finally, the Prince came and stopped the fighting.

LADY MONTAGUE

Oh, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?Right glad I am he was not at this fray.

LADY MONTAGUE

Oh, where’s Romeo? Have you seen him at all today? I’m happy he wasn’t around for this fight.

BENVOLIO

Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun Peered forth the golden window of the east, A troubled mind drove me to walk abroad, Where, underneath the grove of sycamore That westward rooteth from this city side, So early walking did I see your son. Towards him I made, but he was ‘ware of me And stole into the covert of the wood. I, measuring his affections by my own, Which then most sought where most might not be found, Being one too many by my weary self, Pursued my humor not pursuing his, And gladly shunned who gladly fled from me.

BENVOLIO

Madam, my mind was troubled this morning, so an hour before dawn I went out for a walk. As I walked, I saw your son beneath the sycamore grove that grows near the western edge of the city. I walked toward him, but he noticed me and ran and hid in the woods. I assumed that he must be feeling the same way I was, and was looking for a place where he wouldn't be found. So I continued on, following my own inclination to not pursue Romeo and ask him what was on his mind. I was happy to leave Romeo alone as he fled from me. Besides, I was feeling so weary of company that even being with myself was being with one too many people.

MONTAGUE

Many a morning hath he there been seen, With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew, Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs. But all so soon as the all-cheering sun Should in the farthest east begin to draw The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed, Away from light steals home my heavy son, And private in his chamber pens himself, Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out, And makes himself an artificial night. Black and portentous must this humor prove Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

MONTAGUE

He’s been seen at that spot on many mornings, his tears adding to the morning dew and his deep sighs thickening the clouds in the sky. Then, as soon as the happy sun begins to dawn, my unhappy son comes home in order to hide from the light. He keeps to himself in his bedroom, shutting his windows to keep out the daylight so that he can sit in an artificial night. His bad mood is likely to have a bad result, unless someone can give him good advice and remove the cause of his sadness. 

BENVOLIO

My noble uncle, do you know the cause?

BENVOLIO

My noble uncle, do you know what’s causing his mood?

MONTAGUE

I neither know it nor can learn of him.

MONTAGUE

I don’t know. And he refuses to tell me.

BENVOLIO

Have you importuned him by any means?

BENVOLIO

Have you done everything possible to get him to explain?

MONTAGUE

Both by myself and many other friends. But he, his own affections’ counselor, Is to himself—I will not say how true, But to himself so secret and so close, So far from sounding and discovery, As is the bud bit with an envious worm, Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air, Or dedicate his beauty to the same. Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow. We would as willingly give cure as know.

MONTAGUE

I and many of our friends have tried to speak with him. But he insists on sharing his thoughts only with himself, though I don’t know how good the advice is that he’s giving himself. He keeps his secrets so completely that he’s like a flower bud that can’t open to the air or sun, because it’s been poisoned from within by the bite of a worm. If we could just find out the cause of his sadness, we’d try to help him as eagerly as we have tried to figure out why he feels sad.

Enter ROMEO

BENVOLIO

See, where he comes. So please you, step aside.I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.

BENVOLIO

Here he comes. If you don't mind, please leave us alone. I’ll make him either tell me what’s wrong, or else he'll just decline to tell me over and over again.

MONTAGUE

I would thou wert so happy by thy stayTo hear true shrift.—Come, madam, let’s away.

MONTAGUE

I hope you're lucky enough to hear the true story. Come on, madam, let’s go.

Exeutn MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE

BENVOLIO

Good morrow, cousin.

BENVOLIO

Good morning, cousin.

ROMEO

Is the day so young?

ROMEO

Is it still that early?

BENVOLIO

But new struck nine.

BENVOLIO

The clock has just barely struck nine.

ROMEO

Ay me! Sad hours seem long.Was that my father that went hence so fast?

ROMEO

Oh, my! Time goes by slowly when you’re sad. Was that my father who just rushed away?

BENVOLIO

It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?

BENVOLIO

It was. What sadness is making Romeo's hours so long?

ROMEO

Not having that which, having, makes them short.

ROMEO

Lacking the thing which would make the hours short if I had it.

BENVOLIO

In love?

BENVOLIO

Are you in love?

ROMEO

Out.

ROMEO

Out.

BENVOLIO

Of love?

BENVOLIO

So you’re not in love?

ROMEO

Out of her favor, where I am in love.

ROMEO

I am in love. But the one I love does not love me back.

BENVOLIO

Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

BENVOLIO

Oh, it is sad how love, which in theory seems like such a gentle thing, should in actual experience be so rough!

ROMEO

Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still, Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will! Where shall we dine? —O me! What fray was here? Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all. Here’s much to do with hate but more with love. Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate, O anything of nothing first created! O heavy lightness, serious vanity, Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms! Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is! This love feel I, that feel no love in this. Dost thou not laugh?

ROMEO

How can love, which is supposed to be blind, force you to be able to do what it wants? Where should we eat? [Noticing blood] Oh my goodness, what fighting happened here? No, don’t tell me. I already know: it was something that had a lot to do with hate, but even more to do with love. Oh, fighting love! Oh, loving hate! Oh, love that originates from nothing! Oh heavy lightness! Serious frivolity! Beautiful shapes smashed together to create an ugly chaos! Love is like heavy feathers, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, waking sleep, the opposite of what it is! That’s the love I feel, since no one loves me in return. Are you laughing?

BENVOLIO

No, coz, I rather weep.

BENVOLIO

No, cousin—I'm crying instead..

ROMEO

Good heart, at what?

ROMEO

But why, my good man?

BENVOLIO

At thy good heart’s oppression.

BENVOLIO

Because of the way love has oppressed your heart.

ROMEO

Why, such is love’s transgression. Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast, Which thou wilt propagate, to have it pressed With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown Doth add more grief to too much of mine own. Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs; Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes; Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears. What is it else? A madness most discreet, A choking gall, and a preserving sweet. Farewell, my coz.

ROMEO

That’s how it it goes with love. My own sadness is a heavy weight on my chest, and now you’re going to add your own sadness to mine. The love you are showing me is only increasing my grief. Love is like a smoke made out of the sighs of lovers. When the smoke clears, love is a fire burning in the lovers' eyes. But if that love is thwarted, then it is a sea made out of lovers' tears. What else is love? A wise madness. A sweet candy that makes you choke. Goodbye, my cousin.

BENVOLIO

Soft! I will go along.And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

BENVOLIO

Wait! I’ll come with you. If you leave me behind, you’ll be insulting me.

ROMEO

Tut, I have lost myself. I am not here.This is not Romeo. He’s some other where.

ROMEO

Oh, I’m not acting like myself. It’s as if I’m not even here. This is not Romeo, he’s somewhere else.

BENVOLIO

Tell me in sadness, who is that you love.

BENVOLIO

Tell me, seriously, who is the one you love?

ROMEO

What, shall I groan and tell thee?

ROMEO

What? Should I cry out the name in a groan of sadness?

BENVOLIO

Groan! Why, no. But sadly, tell me who.

BENVOLIO

Groan?! Why, of course not. Just tell me who it is.

ROMEO

A sick man in sadness makes his will,A word ill urged to one that is so ill. In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.

ROMEO

You wouldn’t ask a sick man to “seriously” write out his will—it would only make him feel worse. Seriously, cousin, I do love a woman.

BENVOLIO

I aimed so near when I supposed you loved.

BENVOLIO

I figured that out when I guessed you were in love.

ROMEO

A right good markman! And she’s fair I love.

ROMEO

Then you have good aim! And the woman I love is beautiful.

BENVOLIO

A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.

BENVOLIO

My dear cousin, a beautiful target is usually the one that is hit fastest.

ROMEO

Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit. And, in strong proof of chastity well armed From love’s weak childish bow, she lives uncharmed. She will not stay the siege of loving terms, Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes, Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold. Oh, she is rich in beauty, only poor That when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

ROMEO

Well, now you missed the target. She won’t be hit by Cupid’s arrow. She’s like Diana, protected by the armor of chastity. She is immune to the weak and childish arrows of love. She ignores words of love, refuses to even let you look at her with loving eyes, or open her lap to receive golden gifts that would even tempt a saint. Oh, she’s rich in beauty. But she’s also poor, because when she dies her beauty will die along with her.

BENVOLIO

Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

BENVOLIO

So she’s sworn to live her life a virgin?

ROMEO

She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste, For beauty, starved with her severity, Cuts beauty off from all posterity. She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair, To merit bliss by making me despair. She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow Do I live dead that live to tell it now.

ROMEO

She has, and in doing so she wastes her beauty, because by living in chastity she ensures that she will never pass her beauty on to her children. She’s too beautiful, and too smart, to be allowed to gain entrance to Heaven by making me despair. She’s sworn never to love, and in that vow has sentenced me to a kind of living death.

BENVOLIO

Be ruled by me. Forget to think of her.

BENVOLIO

Listen to me. Stop thinking about her.

ROMEO

O, teach me how I should forget to think!

ROMEO

Oh, then teach me to forget how to think!

BENVOLIO

By giving liberty unto thine eyes.Examine other beauties.

BENVOLIO

By letting your eyes wander. Take a look at other beautiful girls.

ROMEO

‘Tis the way To call hers exquisite, in question more. These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows, Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair. He that is strucken blind cannot forget The precious treasure of his eyesight lost. Show me a mistress that is passing fair; What doth her beauty serve but as a note Where I may read who passed that passing fair? Farewell. Thou canst not teach me to forget.

ROMEO

Such comparisons will only make her own beauty more obvious. It will be like the masks that pretty girls wear to hide their faces. When they hide their beauty, they make us think of it more. A blind man can’t forget the precious eyesight he lost. Show me any beautiful girl. What good is her beauty, other than a reminder of  a girl who is even more beautiful? Goodbye. You can’t teach me to forget.

BENVOLIO

I'll pay that doctrine or else die in debt.

BENVOLIO

I'll teach you how to forget, or else I'll die owing you the lesson.

Exeunt

Romeo and juliet
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Romeo and Juliet Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 762 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 18,227 quotes covering 762 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms
Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.