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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 1, Scene 4

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ROMEO, MERCUTIO, and BENVOLIO enter wearing party masks. Five other men wearing party masks and carrying torches enter with them.

ROMEO

What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?Or shall we on without apology?

ROMEO

What excuse will we make? Or should we enter without apology?

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.

BENVOLIO

It’s no longer fashionable to talk that much. We’re not going to announce our entrance with some guy blindfolded, dressed up as Cupid, and carrying a toy bow in order to frighten the ladies like some scarecrow. Nor will we introduce ourselves with a memorized speech. They can judge us however they want. We’ll dance for one dance, and then get out of there.

ROMEO

Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.Being but heavy, I will bear the light.

ROMEO

Give me a torch. I don’t feel like dancing. Since I’m sad, I might as well carry the light.

MERCUTIO

Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.

MERCUTIO

No, sweet Romeo, you have to dance.

ROMEO

Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes With nimble soles. I have a soul of leadSo stakes me to the ground I cannot move.

ROMEO

Not me, believe me. You’ve got on dancing shoes with nimble soles. But my soul is made of lead so heavy that it anchors me to the ground and I can’t move.

MERCUTIO

You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wingsAnd soar with them above a common bound.

MERCUTIO

You’re a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings and use them to soar higher than the average man.

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.

ROMEO

I’ve been too strongly pierced by his arrow to soar. My wounded heart won’t let me escape my dull sadness. I am sinking under love’s heavy burden.

MERCUTIO

And to sink in it, should you burthen love—Too great oppression for a tender thing.

MERCUTIO

If you sink in love, then you’re burdening it. You’re putting too much weight on such 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 really so tender? To me it seems too rough, too rude, too unruly, and it pricks like a 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! A visor for a visor. —What care I What curious eye doth cote deformities? Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.

MERCUTIO

If love is rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love when it pricks you, and you’ll beat love down. Give me a mask to put over my face. A mask to cover that mask I call my face. What do I care if someone sees my flaws? Let the this mask, with its dark eyebrows, blush for me.

BENVOLIO

Come, knock and enter. And no sooner inBut every man betake him to his legs.

BENVOLIO

Come on, let’s knock and go inside. And once inside, let’s all start dancing.

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.

ROMEO

Give me a torch to carry. Let those with light hearts dance. There’s an old proverb that fits me perfectly: I’ll hold a torch and watch. The game looks like fun, but I’m done with it.

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!

MERCUTIO

Come on, “dun” is the color of a timid mouse. You’re being as timid as a patrolman on night duty. If you’re a stick stuck in the mud, we’ll pull you out—pardon me for being rude— out of the love in which you’re stuck up to your ears. Come on, we’re wasting daylight.

ROMEO

Nay, that’s not so.

ROMEO

No, that’s wrong—it’s night.

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 five wits.

MERCUTIO

I mean, sir, that by delaying we’re wasting our torches, which is like wasting the sunshine during the day. Show your good judgment by taking what I say the way I mean it, which is five times more important than literally trusting your five senses.

ROMEO

And we mean well in going to this mask,But ’tis no wit to go.

ROMEO

We mean well by going to this party, but it’s not smart of us to go.

MERCUTIO

Why, may one ask?

MERCUTIO

Why, may I ask?

ROMEO

I dreamt a dream tonight.

ROMEO

I dreamed a dream last night.

MERCUTIO

And so did I.

MERCUTIO

So did I.

ROMEO

Well, what was yours?

ROMEO

What was your dream?

MERCUTIO

That dreamers often lie.

MERCUTIO

I dreamed that dreamers often lie.

ROMEO

In bed asleep while they do dream things true.

ROMEO

They lie in bed while dreaming about true things.

MERCUTIO

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

MERCUTIO

Oh, then I see Queen Mab has visited you.

BENVOLIO

Queen Mab, what’s she?

BENVOLIO

Queen Mab? Who’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, 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—

MERCUTIO

She’s the fairies’ midwife, and is no bigger than the stone on the ring of a city councilman. She rides her carriage, which is pulled by tiny little creatures, over men’s noses as they lie sleeping. The wheel spokes of her carriage are made of spiders’ legs; its cover is made of grasshopper wings; and its harnesses are made of the smallest spiderwebs. The horse collars are made from moonbeams, while her whip is a single cobweb attached to a cricket bone. Her wagon driver is a tiny gnat wearing a gray coat that is not even half as large as a little round worm that comes from the finger of a lazy young girl. Her carriage is an empty hazelnut, made by a squirrel and an old worm, which have been the fairies’ carriage-builders for countless years.  With this magnificent carriage she rides each night through the brains of lovers, who then dream about love. She rides across courtiers’ knees, who then dream about bowing and curtsying. She rides over lawyers’ fingers, who then dream about their fees. She rides over ladies’ lips, and they immediately dream of kisses. But Queen Mab often puts blisters on their lips because their breath smells of candy, which angers her. Sometimes she rides over a courtier’s nose, and he dreams of sniffing out a way to make some money. Sometimes she tickles a priest’s nose with the tail of pig given as a tithe to the church, and he dreams of getting a high-paid church position. Sometimes she drives over a soldier’s neck, and he dreams of cutting the throats of foreigners, of breaking through fortifications, of ambushes, of the finest-quality Spanish swords, and of huge mugs of alcohol before suddenly waking, frightened, by the sound of drums in his ears. Then he says a prayer or two and goes back to sleep. Mab is the one who tangles the hair of horses’ manes at night and then hardens the tangles in the foul, dirty hairs; tangles which, if you undo them, bring bad luck. Mab is the hag who gives dreams of sex to virgins and teaches them how to bear the weight of a lover and to bear a child. She’s the one—

ROMEO

Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!Thou talk’st of nothing.

ROMEO

Calm down, calm down! Mercutio, be calm. You’re talking about 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’m talking about dreams, which are produced by a brain that’s doing nothing. Dreams are born of no more than empty fantasy, which lack substance like air, and are more unpredictable than the wind, which can blow on the frozen north and then suddenly get angry and blow south.

BENVOLIO

This wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves.Supper is done, and we shall come too late.

BENVOLIO

This wind you’re talking about is blowing us off course. Dinner is already over. We’re going to get there too late.

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.

ROMEO

I fear we’re going to arrive too early. I have a feeling this party tonight is fated to set in motion some awful destiny that will result in my own untimely death. But whoever’s in charge of my fate can steer me where they want. Let’s go, my lusty friends!

BENVOLIO

Strike, drum.

BENVOLIO

Bang the drum!

March about the stage and exit.

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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.