A line-by-line translation

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 2, Scene 5

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JULIET enters.

JULIET

The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse. In half an hour she promised to return. Perchance she cannot meet him. That’s not so. Oh, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts, Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams, Driving back shadows over louring hills. Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw love And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings. Now is the sun upon the highmost hill Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve Is three long hours, yet she is not come. Had she affections and warm youthful blood, She would be as swift in motion as a ball. My words would bandy her to my sweet love, And his to me. But old folks, many feign as they were dead, Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead. O God, she comes.—O honey Nurse, what news? Hast thou met with him? Send thy man away .

JULIET

It was nine o’clock when I sent the Nurse. She promised to be back in half an hour. Maybe she can’t find him. No, that makes no sense. Oh, she’s so slow! Love’s messengers should be thoughts, which fly ten times faster than sunbeams and drive the shadows back over the dark and scowling hills. That’s how fast swift-winged doves carry the goddess of love in her chariot, and why Cupid has wings that propel him as quickly as the wind. Now the sun is at its highest point in the sky—it’s noon. Three hours have passed since nine o’clock, and yet she hasn’t returned. If she were young and in love, she’d move as fast as a struck tennis ball. My words would bounce her to my sweet love, and his words would bounce her back to me. But old people act as though they’re already dead—awkward, slow, heavy, and pale as lead. Oh God, she’s here! Sweet Nurse, what’s your news? Did you meet with him? Send your servant away.

The NURSE and PETER enter.

NURSE

Peter, stay at the gate.

NURSE

Peter, go back and wait at the gate.

PETER exits.

JULIET

Now, good sweet Nurse— O Lord, why look’st thou sad? Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily. If good, thou shamest the music of sweet news By playing it to me with so sour a face.

JULIET

Now, good sweet Nurse—Oh Lord, why do you look so sad? If your news is sad, tell it to me as if it’s happy. If it’s good, you’re messing it up by telling it to me with such a sour face like that.

NURSE

I am aweary. Give me leave awhile.Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunt have I!

NURSE

I’m weary. Give me some time alone. Oh, my bones are aching! What a journey this has been today.

JULIET

I would thou hadst my bones and I thy news.Nay, come, I pray thee, speak. Good, good Nurse, speak.

JULIET

I wish you had my bones, and I had your news. I beg you, speak. Good, good Nurse, tell me!

NURSE

Jesu, what haste! Can you not stay awhile? Do you not see that I am out of breath?

NURSE

Jesus, what a rush you're in! Can’t you wait for awhile? Don’t you see that I’m out of breath?

JULIET

How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath To say to me that thou art out of breath? The excuse that thou dost make in this delay Is longer than the tale thou dost excuse. Is thy news good, or bad? Answer to that. Say either, and I’ll stay the circumstance. Let me be satisfied. Is ’t good or bad?

JULIET

How are you out of breath when you have the breath to tell me that you’re out of breath? The excuse you’re making while delaying telling me the news is taking longer than it would to tell me your tale. Is your news good or bad? Answer that. Tell me that, and I’ll wait for the details. Tell me at least that. Is it good or bad?

NURSE

Well, you have made a simple choice. You know not how to choose a man. Romeo! No, not he, though his face be better than any man’s, yet his leg excels all men’s, andfor a hand and a foot and a body, though they be not tobe talked on, yet they are past compare. He is not the flower of courtesy, but, I’ll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb. Go thy ways, wench. Serve God. What, have you dined at home?

NURSE

Well, you have made a foolish choice. You don’t know how to choose a man. Romeo? No, not him, even though his face is more handsome than any other man’s, his legs are prettier. His hands and feet and body aren’t much to speak of, and yet they’re beyond compare. He isn’t the most courteous man, but, I’d swear that he’s as gentle as a lamb. So do what you want, girl. Be good. Hey, have you already eaten lunch?

JULIET

No, no. But all this did I know before.What says he of our marriage? What of that?

JULIET

No, no. I already knew everything you just said. What did he say about our marriage? What about that?

NURSE

Lord, how my head aches! What a head have I! It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces. My back a’ t’ other side. Ah, my back, my back! Beshrew your heart for sending me about, To catch my death with jaunting up and down!

NURSE

Lord, I have such a headache! It’s pounding as if it’s about to break into twenty pieces. And on my other side my back is aching—ah, my back! Curse your heart for sending me out and about. I could get sick and die from all this journeying around!

JULIET

I’ faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.Sweet, sweet, sweet Nurse, tell me, what says my love?

JULIET

Indeed, I’m sorry you’re in pain. Sweet, sweet, sweet Nurse, tell me, what does my love say?

NURSE

Your love says, like an honest gentleman, and a courteous, and a kind, and a handsome, and, I warrant, avirtuous— Where is your mother?

NURSE

Your love says, like an honorable, courteous, kind, handsome, and, I believe, virtuous gentleman — where is your mother?

JULIET

Where is my mother? Why, she is within. Where should she be? How oddly thou repliest! “Your love says, like an honest gentleman, ‘Where is your mother?’”

JULIET

Where’s my mother? Why, she’s inside. Where else would she be? What a strange answer! “Your love says, like an honorable gentleman, ‘Where is your mother?’”

NURSE

O God’s lady dear, Are you so hot? Marry, come up, I trow. Is this the poultice for my aching bones? Henceforward do your messages yourself.

NURSE

Mary, mother of God! Are you in such a hurry? Indeed, you need to calm down. Is this the way to soothe my aching bones? From here on out, carry your own messages.

JULIET

Here’s such a coil. Come, what says Romeo?

JULIET

What a fuss you’re making. Come on, what did Romeo say?

NURSE

Have you got leave to go to shrift today?

NURSE

Do you have permission to go to confession today?

JULIET

I have.

JULIET

I do.

NURSE

Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell. There stays a husband to make you a wife. Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks. They’ll be in scarlet straight at any news. Hie you to church. I must another way To fetch a ladder, by the which your love Must climb a bird’s nest soon when it is dark. I am the drudge and toil in your delight, But you shall bear the burden soon at night. Go. I’ll to dinner. Hie you to the cell.

NURSE

Then hurry up and go to Friar Lawrence’s cell. There waits a husband to make you his wife. Now the lustful blood is rushing up to your cheeks. You blush scarlet whenever you get excited at some news. Get to church. I must go elsewhere to get a rope ladder that your love will use to climb up to your window when it’s dark. I do the drudge work for your pleasure. But soon enough, you’ll be doing your “wifely work” tonight with Romeo. Go. I’ll go to lunch. You go to Friar Lawrence’s cell.

JULIET

Hie to high fortune! Honest Nurse, farewell.

JULIET

I'll hurry off to my good fortune! Goodbye, trustworthy Nurse.

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.