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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO enter.

MERCUTIO

Where the devil should this Romeo be?Came he not home tonight?

MERCUTIO

Where the devil is Romeo? Did he come home last night?

BENVOLIO

Not to his father’s. I spoke with his man.

BENVOLIO

Not to his father’s house. I asked Romeo’s servant.

MERCUTIO

Why, that same pale hard-hearted wench, that Rosaline, Torments him so, that he will sure run mad.

MERCUTIO

Rosaline—that pale-skinned, hard-hearted wench—torments him so much that he’s going to go insane.

BENVOLIO

Tybalt, the kinsman to old Capulet,Hath sent a letter to his father’s house.

BENVOLIO

Tybalt, old Capulet’s kinsman, has sent a letter to Romeo’s father’s house.

MERCUTIO

A challenge, on my life.

MERCUTIO

I bet it’s a challenge to fight.

BENVOLIO

Romeo will answer it.

BENVOLIO

Romeo will answer it.

MERCUTIO

Any man that can write may answer a letter.

MERCUTIO

Any man who can write is able to answer a letter.

BENVOLIO

Nay, he will answer the letter’s master, how he dares, being dared.

BENVOLIO

No, Romeo will respond to the letter writer and accept the challenge.

MERCUTIO

Alas, poor Romeo! He is already dead, stabbed with a white wench’s black eye, shot through the ear with a love song, the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy’s butt shaft. And is he a man to encounterTybalt?

MERCUTIO

Poor Romeo! He is already dead: stabbed by the black eye of a fair-skinned girl, cut through the ear by a love song. The very core of his heart has been split by blind Cupid’s arrow. Is he really man enough to fight Tybalt?

BENVOLIO

Why, what is Tybalt?

BENVOLIO

Why, what’s up with Tybalt?

MERCUTIO

More than Prince of Cats. Oh, he’s the courageous captain of compliments. He fights as you sing prick-song, keeps time, distance, and proportion. He rests his minim rests—one, two, and the third in your bosom. The very butcher of a silk button, a duelist, a duelist, a gentleman of the very first house of the first and second cause. Ah, the immortal passado, the punto reverso, the hai!

MERCUTIO

He’s more than just the Prince of Cats. Oh, he does everything according to convention. He fights like you sing printed music, carefully keeping the correct time, distance, and rhythm. He rests when it is proper to rest: one, two, and the third in your heart. He’s a master duelist who can hit any of his opponent’s buttons that he chooses. He’s a gentleman who learned at the finest fencing school, and he’s skilled at identifying insults and slights to his honor so that he’s “forced” to fight. He knows the passado—the forward thrust—the punto reverso—the backhand thrust—and the hai—the thrust for the heart.

BENVOLIO

The what?

BENVOLIO

He knows what?

MERCUTIO

The pox on such antic, lisping, affecting fantasmines, these new tuners of accents! “By Jesu, a very good blade! A very tall man! A very good whore!” Why, is not this a lamentable thing, grandsire, that we should be thus afflicted with these strange flies, these fashion-mongers, these “pardon me’s,” who stand so much on the new form, that they cannot sit at ease on the oldbench? Oh, their bones, their bones!

MERCUTIO

A curse on these wild, pompous fellows who are always spouting exotic foreign phrases. These fellows, who say things like: “By Jesus, this is a very good blade! A very brave man! A very good whore.” Isn’t it a sad thing, good man, that we are forced to interact with these foreign flies, these fashionmongers, these fellows who say “pardon me” and care so deeply about good manners that they can’t relax on a bench without groaning, “Oh, my aching bones!”

ROMEO enters.

BENVOLIO

Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.

BENVOLIO

Here comes Romeo, here comes Romeo.

MERCUTIO

Without his roe, like a dried herring. O flesh, flesh,how art thou fishified! Now is he for the numbers that Petrarch flowed in. Laura to his lady was but a kitchen-wench— marry, she had a better love to berhyme her— Dido a dowdy, Cleopatra a gypsy, Helen and Hero hildings and harlots, Thisbe a grey eye or so, but not to the purpose. — Signior Romeo, bonjour! There’s a French salutation to your French slop. You gave us the counterfeit fairly last night.

MERCUTIO

He looks skinny as a dried herring without its eggs. O flesh, flesh, you’ve turned pale as a fish. Now he’s just like Petrarch’s hopeless love poetry. In Romeo’s opinion, compared to his own lady love: Petrarch’s Laura was like a kitchen slave—though Laura clearly had a lover who was better at making rhymes; Dido was drab and dull; Cleopatra was a gypsy girl; Helen and Hero were good-for-nothing harlots; Thisbe might have had beautiful eyes, but that doesn’t matter. 

[To ROMEO] Signor Romeo, bonjour. There’s a French greeting to match the loose high-fashion French pants you’re wearing. You tricked us pretty well last night.

ROMEO

Good morrow to you both. What counterfeit did I give you?

ROMEO

Good morning to you both. What do you mean I tricked you?

MERCUTIO

The slip, sir, the slip. Can you not conceive?

MERCUTIO

You gave us the slip, sir, the slip. Do you understand me now?

ROMEO

Pardon, good Mercutio, my business was great, and in such a case as mine a man may strain courtesy.

ROMEO

I’m sorry, good Mercutio. My business was so important that I must be forgiven for stretching good manners and courtesy.

MERCUTIO

That’s as much as to say, such a case as yours constrains a man to bow in the hams.

MERCUTIO

So what you’re saying is that your “business” forced you to flex your legs.

ROMEO

Meaning “to curtsy”?

ROMEO

Meaning make a curtsy?

MERCUTIO

Thou hast most kindly hit it.

MERCUTIO

Now you’ve “hit it.”

ROMEO

A most courteous exposition.

ROMEO

What a courteous explanation.

MERCUTIO

Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy.

MERCUTIO

Indeed, I am the very “pink” of courtesy.

ROMEO

Pink for flower.

ROMEO

As in the pink flower.

MERCUTIO

Right.

MERCUTIO

Right.

ROMEO

Why, then is my pump well flowered.

ROMEO

Well, then my pump is covered in flowers.

MERCUTIO

Sure wit, follow me this jest now till thou hast worn out thy pump, that when the single sole of it is worn, the jest may remain, after the wearing solely singular.

MERCUTIO

Ah, witty Romeo, now you’ve taken this joke so far that it’s worn out your pump. With the sole of your pump now worn away, the joke is all that remains.

ROMEO

O single-soled jest, solely singular for the singleness.

ROMEO

This jest has such a thin sole, and is unique only because of its lameness.

MERCUTIO

Come between us, good Benvolio. My wits faints.

MERCUTIO

Please break up this war of words, Benvolio. My wits can’t keep up.

ROMEO

Switch and spurs, switch and spurs, or I’ll cry a match.

ROMEO

Continue, continue, or I’ll proclaim victory.

MERCUTIO

Nay, if our wits run the wild-goose chase, I am done, for thou hast more of the wild-goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. Was I with youthere for the goose?

MERCUTIO

No, if our witticisms go on a wild-goose chase, I’m done for. You have more wild goose in one of your jokes than I have in five of mine. Was I  even close to you in our goose chase?

ROMEO

Thou wast never with me for anything when thou wast notthere for the goose.

ROMEO

You would not have been with me for anything if you weren’t there for the goose.

MERCUTIO

I will bite thee by the ear for that jest.

MERCUTIO

I’ll bite you on the ear for that joke.

ROMEO

Nay, good goose, bite not.

ROMEO

No, good goose, don’t bite me.

MERCUTIO

Thy wit is a very bitter sweeting. It is a most sharp sauce.

MERCUTIO

Your wit is a bitter apple. It is a very spicy sauce.

ROMEO

And is it not well served into a sweet goose?

ROMEO

Isn’t that the perfect sauce for a sweet goose?

MERCUTIO

Oh, here’s a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell broad!

MERCUTIO

Oh, that joke is made of leather so thin it has been stretched from an inch wide to a full fat yard.

ROMEO

I stretch it out for that word “broad,” which, added to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose.

ROMEO

I stretched it for that word “fat.” Add that to the goose, and it makes you a fat goose.

MERCUTIO

Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Nowart thou sociable. Now art thou Romeo. Now art thou what thou art—by art as well as by nature, for this driveling love is like a great natural that runs lollingup and down to hide his bauble in a hole.

MERCUTIO

Now, isn’t this jesting better than groaning about love? Now you’re being sociable. Now you’re Romeo. Now you are what you truly are, both naturally and through education. In contrast, this love of yours made you like some fool who runs all over the place looking for a hole in which to hide his precious trinket.

BENVOLIO

Stop there, stop there.

BENVOLIO

Stop there, stop there.

MERCUTIO

Thou desirest me to stop in my tale against the hair.

MERCUTIO

You’re asking me to stop my tale before it’s finished.

BENVOLIO

Thou wouldst else have made thy tale large.

BENVOLIO

Continuing on would have made your tale too long.

MERCUTIO

Oh, thou art deceived. I would have made it short, forI was come to the whole depth of my tale, and meant, indeed, to occupy the argument no longer.

MERCUTIO

You’re wrong there. I would have made it short. I had come to the full depth of my tale, and intended to say nothing more about it.

The NURSE enters with her servant, PETER.

ROMEO

Here’s goodly gear.

ROMEO

Now here’s something.

BENVOLIO

A sail, a sail!

BENVOLIO

A sail, a sail!

MERCUTIO

Two, two—a shirt and a smock.

MERCUTIO

No, two sails—a man in a shirt and a woman in a dress.

NURSE

Peter!

NURSE

Peter!

PETER

Anon!

PETER

In a moment.

NURSE

My fan, Peter.

NURSE

Give me my fan, Peter.

MERCUTIO

Good, Peter, to hide her face, for her fan’s the fairerface.

MERCUTIO

Good Peter, to hide her face, please give her the fan. Her fan is prettier than her face.

NURSE

God ye good morrow, gentlemen.

NURSE

Good morning, gentlemen.

MERCUTIO

God ye good e’en, fair gentlewoman.

MERCUTIO

Good afternoon, beautiful lady.

NURSE

Is it good e’en?

NURSE

Is it afternoon?

MERCUTIO

‘Tis no less, I tell you, for the bawdy hand of the dial is now upon the prick of noon.

MERCUTIO

It’s not any earlier, I tell you. The lusty hand of the clock is now upon the prick of noon.

NURSE

Out upon you! What a man are you?

NURSE

Get out of town! What kind of man are you?

MERCUTIO

One, gentlewoman, that God hath made, himself to mar.

MERCUTIO

A man, good lady, whom God has made for himself to ruin.

NURSE

By my troth, it is well said. “For himself to mar,” quoth he? Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I may find the young Romeo?

NURSE

I swear, that seems the truth. “For himself to ruin,” he says. Gentlemen, can any of you tell me where I can find young Romeo?

ROMEO

I can tell you, but young Romeo will be older when you have found him than he was when you sought him. I am theyoungest of that name, for fault of a worse.

ROMEO

I can tell you, but young Romeo will be older when you have found him than he was when you began to look for him. I am the youngest man by that name, because there is none younger or worse.

NURSE

You say well.

NURSE

You speak well.

MERCUTIO

Yea, is the worst well? Very well took, i’ faith, wisely, wisely.

MERCUTIO

Is the worst well? Very well taken, in truth, very wise.

NURSE

If you be he, sir, I desire some confidence with you.

NURSE

If you’re Romeo, sir, I would like to have a private conversation with you.

BENVOLIO

She will indite him to some supper.

BENVOLIO

She will invite him to dinner.

MERCUTIO

A bawd, a bawd, a bawd! So ho!

MERCUTIO

A pimp! A pimp! A pimp! That’s it!

ROMEO

What hast thou found?

ROMEO

What have you discovered?

MERCUTIO

No hare, sir, unless a hare, sir, in a Lenten pie—that is, something stale and hoar ere it be spent. [Sings] An old hare hoar, And an old hare hoar, Is very good meat in Lent. But a hare that is hoar Is too much for a score When it hoars ere it be spent. [He speaks] Romeo, will you come to your father’s? We’ll to dinner, thither.

MERCUTIO

Well, she can’t be a prostitute unless she’s so stale and old that she’s only tasted when nothing else is available.
[He sings]
Old rabbit meat
Old rabbit meat
Is good meat if you can’t get anything else,
But old moldy rabbit,
Is a waste of your coin
If it goes moldy before you can eat it

[He speaks] Romeo, are you going to your father’s? We’re having lunch there. Let’s go.

ROMEO

I will follow you.

ROMEO

I’ll follow after you.

MERCUTIO

Farewell, ancient lady. Farewell, lady, lady, lady.

MERCUTIO

Farewell, old lady. Farewell, lady, lady, lady.

BENVOLIO and MERCUTIO exit.

NURSE

I pray you, sir, what saucy merchant was this that was so full of his ropery?

NURSE

Please tell me, sir, who was that foulmouthed fellow with all his dirty jokes?

ROMEO

A gentleman, Nurse, that loves to hear himself talk, and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to ina month.

ROMEO

Nurse, he’s a gentleman who loves to hear himself talk. He says more in one minute than he will stand behind in a month.

NURSE

An he speak any thing against me, I’ll take him down, an he were lustier than he is, and twenty such Jacks. And if I cannot, I’ll find those that shall. Scurvy knave! I am none of his flirt-gills. I am none of his skains-mates. [To PETER] And thou must stand by, too, and suffer every knave to use me at his pleasure?

NURSE

If he says anything against me, I’ll teach him a lesson, even if he were tougher than he is—and twenty wise-asses like him. And if I couldn’t take him down myself, I’ll find someone who can. That rotten scoundrel! I’m not one of his flirty girls. I’m not one of his low-life scheming friends. 

[To PETER] And you just stand aside, letting every fool make fun of me for pleasure?

PETER

I saw no man use you at his pleasure. If I had, my weapon should quickly have been out, I warrant you. I dare draw as soon as another man if I see occasion in a good quarrel and the law on my side.

PETER

I didn’t see anybody use you for pleasure. If I had, I’d have quickly pulled out my weapon, I assure you. I draw my sword as quickly as any other man if I see a good fight brewing and the law is on my side.

NURSE

Now, afore God, I am so vexed that every part about me quivers. Scurvy knave! [To ROMEO] Pray you, sir, a word.And as I told you, my young lady bid me inquire you out. What she bade me say, I will keep to myself. But first let me tell ye, if ye should lead her into a fool’s paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behavior, as they say. For the gentlewoman is young, and therefore, if you should deal double with her, trulyit were an ill thing to be offered to any gentlewoman, and very weak dealing.

NURSE

Now, by God, I’m so upset that I’m shaking. That rotten scoundrel! 

[To ROMEO] Now, good sir, may I speak with you? My young mistress sent me to find you. What she told me to say, I will keep to myself. But first let me say: if you lead her into a fool’s paradise, as they say, it would be extremely indecent behavior, as they say. For the girl is young. So if you should deceive her, it would be an awful thing to do to any woman, and very poor manners.

ROMEO

Nurse, commend me to thy lady and mistress. I protest unto thee—

ROMEO

Nurse, speak well of me to your mistress. I pledge to you—

NURSE

Good heart, and i’ faith, I will tell her as much. Lord, Lord, she will be a joyful woman.

NURSE

Your heart is good, and I promise, I will tell her that. Lord, Lord, she will be a joyful woman.

ROMEO

What wilt thou tell her, Nurse? Thou dost not mark me.

ROMEO

What are you going to tell her, Nurse? You’re not understanding me.

NURSE

I will tell her, sir, that you do protest, which, as I take it, is a gentlemanlike offer.

NURSE

I will tell her, sir, that you protest to her, which I think is a gentlemanly offer.  

ROMEO

Bid her devise Some means to come to shrift this afternoon. And there she shall at Friar Lawrence’ cell Be shrived and married. [Gives her coins] Here is for thy pains.

ROMEO

Tell her to devise a way to come to confession this afternoon. And there, at Friar Lawrence’s cell, she can make confession and we will be married. [Holding out some money to the NURSE] Here is a reward for your efforts.

NURSE

No, truly, sir. Not a penny.

NURSE

No, truly, sir. I won’t take your money.

ROMEO

Go to. I say you shall.

ROMEO

Go on, I insist.

NURSE

[Takes the money] This afternoon, sir? Well, she shall be there.

NURSE

[Taking the money] This afternoon, sir? She will be there.

ROMEO

And stay, good Nurse. Behind the abbey wall Within this hour my man shall be with thee And bring thee cords made like a tackled stair, Which to the high top-gallant of my joy Must be my convoy in the secret night. Farewell. Be trusty, and I’ll quit thy pains. Farewell. Commend me to thy mistress.

ROMEO

Just a moment, good Nurse. In an hour, behind the abbey wall, one of my servants will meet you and give you a rope ladder. I’ll then use the ladder to secretly climb up to Juliet’s room tonight. Farewell. Be worthy of my trust, and I’ll repay you for your help. Farewell. Speak well of me to your mistress.

NURSE

Now God in heaven bless thee! Hark you, sir.

NURSE

May God in heaven bless you! Now listen, sir.

ROMEO

What sayst thou, my dear Nurse?

ROMEO

What, my dear Nurse?

NURSE

Is your man secret? Did you ne’er hear say,“Two may keep counsel, putting one away?”

NURSE

Can your servant be trusted? Have you ever heard the saying, “Two men may keep a secret, but only if one is far away?"

ROMEO

Warrant thee, my man’s as true as steel.

ROMEO

I guarantee you that my man is as trustworthy as steel.

NURSE

Well, sir, my mistress is the sweetest lady.—Lord, Lord! when ’twas a little prating thing.—Oh, there is a nobleman in town, one Paris, that would fain lay knife aboard, but she, good soul, had as lief see a toad, a very toad, as see him. I anger her sometimes and tell her that Paris is the properer man. But, I’ll warrant you, when I say so, she looks as pale as any clout in the versal world. Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin bothwith a letter?

NURSE

Well, sir, my mistress is the sweetest lady. Lord, Lord, when she was a little baby—Oh, there is one nobleman in the city, Paris, who would gladly lay claim to her. But Juliet, good soul that she is, would rather be with a toad, a toad, than him. Sometimes I make her angry by telling her that Paris is better looking than you. I swear to you, when I say that she turns as white as any sheet in the entire world. Don’t “rosemary” and “Romeo” begin with the same letter?

ROMEO

Ay, Nurse, what of that? Both with an R.

ROMEO

Yes, Nurse, what about that? Both begin with an  “R.”

NURSE

Ah, mocker, that’s the dog’s name. R is for the—No, I know it begins with some other letter, and she hath the prettiest sententious of it, of you and rosemary, that it would do you good to hear it.

NURSE

Ah, you jokester—that’s the dog’s name. “R” is for the—no, I know that word begins with another letter. She says such pretty things about you and rosemary that it would do you good to hear them.

ROMEO

Commend me to thy lady.

ROMEO

Speak well of me to your lady.

NURSE

Ay, a thousand times —Peter!

NURSE

Yes, a thousand times. Peter!

PETER

Anon!

PETER

I’m ready.

NURSE

[Giving PETER her fan] Before, and apace.


NURSE

[Giving her fan to PETER] Go ahead of me, and go quickly.

They all 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.