A line-by-line translation

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 2, Scene 3

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FRIAR LAWRENCE enters by himself, carrying a basket.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

The gray-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night, Checkering the eastern clouds with streaks of light, And fleckled darkness like a drunkard reels From forth day’s path and Titan’s fiery wheels. Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye, The day to cheer and night’s dank dew to dry, I must upfill this osier cage of ours With baleful weeds and precious-juicèd flowers. The earth, that’s natu re’s mother, is her tomb. What is her burying, grave that is her womb. And from her womb children of divers kind We sucking on her natural bosom find, Many for many virtues excellent, None but for some and yet all different. Oh, mickle is the powerful grace that lies In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities. For naught so vile that on the earth doth live But to the earth some special good doth give. Nor aught so good but, strained from that fair use Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse. Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometime by action dignified.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

The morning smiles as it replaces frowning night, and streaks light across the clouds in the east. Darkness staggers away from the sun’s path like a drunkard. Now, before the sun rises, bringing on the day and drying the dew, I must fill my basket with poisonous weeds and the precious nectar of flowers. The earth is both nature’s mother and its tomb. Plants arise from the earth as from a womb, and when they die, they are buried in the earth. Many different plants and animals come from the earth’s womb. All of these children find nourishment from the earth, and all have some special, unique virtue. There is a power that resides in herbs, plants, and stones. For there’s nothing on earth that’s so evil that it does not also provide the earth with some kind of good. Nor is there anything so good that it can’t be turned bad if it’s abused and used incorrectly. Virtue, when misused, turns to vice, while vice can sometimes become virtue through proper action.

Romeo enters.

Within the infant rind of this small flower Poison hath residence and medicine power. For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part; Being tasted, stays 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, Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

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ROMEO

Good morrow, Father.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Benedicite. What early tongue so sweet saluteth me? Young son, it argues a distempered head So soon to bid 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. Therefore thy earliness doth me assure Thou art uproused by some distemperature. Or if not so, then here I hit it right: Our Romeo hath not been in bed tonight.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

That last is true. The sweeter rest was mine.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline?

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

With Rosaline, my ghostly Father? No.I have forgot that name and that name’s woe.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

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

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

I’ll tell thee ere thou ask it me again. I have been feasting with mine enemy, Where on a sudden one hath wounded me, That’s by me wounded. Both our remedies Within thy help and holy physic lies. I bear no hatred, blessèd man, for, lo, My intercession likewise steads my foe.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Be plain, good son, and homely in thy drift.Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

Then plainly know my heart’s dear love is set On the fair daughter of rich Capulet. As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine, And all combined, save what thou must combine By holy marriage. When and where and how We met, we wooed and made exchange of vow, I’ll tell thee as we pass, but this I pray: That thou consent to marry us today.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here! Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear, So soon forsaken? Young men’s love then lies Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes. Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine Hath washed thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline! How much salt water thrown away in waste To season love that of it doth not taste! The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears, Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears. Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit Of an old tear that is not washed off yet. If e’er thou wast thyself and these woes thine, Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline. And art thou changed? Pronounce this sentence then: Women may fall when there’s no strength in men.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

Thou chid’st me oft for loving Rosaline.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

And badest me bury love.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Not in a grave,To lay one in, another out to have.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

I pray thee, chide not. Her I love nowDoth grace for grace and love for love allow.The other did not so.

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Oh, she knew well Thy love did read by rote, that could not spell. But come, young waverer, come, go with me, In one respect I’ll thy assistant be, For this alliance may so happy prove To turn your households’ rancor to pure love.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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ROMEO

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

ROMEO

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FRIAR LAWRENCE

Wisely and slow. They stumble that run fast.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

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They 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.