A line-by-line translation

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet Translation Act 4, Scene 1

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FRIAR LAWRENCE and PARIS enter.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

On Thursday, sir? The time is very short.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

On Thursday, sir? That’s extremely soon.

PARIS

My father Capulet will have it so,And I am nothing slow to slack his haste.

PARIS

My father-in-law Capulet wants it that way, and I’m not at all interested in slowing him down.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

You say you do not know the lady’s mind. Uneven is the course. I like it not.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

You say you don’t know what Juliet wants. That’s a treacherous road. I don’t like it.

PARIS

Immoderately she weeps for Tybalt’s death, And therefore have I little talked of love, For Venus smiles not in a house of tears. Now, sir, her father counts it dangerous That she do give her sorrow so much sway, And in his wisdom hastes our marriage To stop the inundation of her tears— Which, too much minded by herself alone, May be put from her by society. Now do you know the reason of this haste.

PARIS

She’s grieving too much over Tybalt’s death, so I haven’t talked to her about love. Romantic love can’t flourish during times of mourning. Now, sir, her father thinks it’s dangerous that she has given herself so fully to sorrow. In his wisdom, he’s rushing our marriage in order to stop her tears. She is alone all the time and thinking too much about her grief. Some company might help her to stop crying. Now you know the reason for this hurry to the wedding.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

[Aside] I would I knew not why it should be slowed.—Look, sir, here comes the lady toward my cell.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

[To himself] I wish I didn’t know the reason why it should be slowed down. 

[To PARIS] Look, sir, here comes the lady toward my cell.

PARIS

Happily met, my lady and my wife.

PARIS

I’m happy to see you, my lady and my wife.

JULIET enters.

JULIET

That may be, sir, when I may be a wife.

JULIET

That might be, sir, when I’m married.

PARIS

That “may be” must be, love, on Thursday next.

PARIS

That “may be” will be, on Thursday, my love.

JULIET

What must be shall be.

JULIET

What must be will be.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

That’s a certain text.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

That’s a certain truth.

PARIS

Come you to make confession to this Father?

PARIS

Have you come to make confession to Father Lawrence?

JULIET

To answer that, I should confess to you.

JULIET

If I answered that, I’d be confessing to you.

PARIS

Do not deny to him that you love me.

PARIS

Don’t deny to him that you love me.

JULIET

I will confess to you that I love him.

JULIET

I’ll confess to you that I love him.

PARIS

So will ye, I am sure, that you love me.

PARIS

I'm sure you will also confess that you love me.

JULIET

If I do so, it will be of more priceBeing spoke behind your back than to your face.

JULIET

If I do so, it will be worth more if I say it behind your back than if I say it to your face.

PARIS

Poor soul, thy face is much abused with tears.

PARIS

Poor dear, your face has been abused by so many tears.

JULIET

The tears have got small victory by that,For it was bad enough before their spite.

JULIET

The tears haven’t won much, since my face wasn’t all that nice before I started to cry.

PARIS

Thou wrong’st it more than tears with that report.

PARIS

Now you’re abusing your face to say something untrue about it like that.

JULIET

That is no slander, sir, which is a truth, And what I spake, I spake it to my face.

JULIET

It is no lie, sir. It’s the truth. And what I said, I said to my face.

PARIS

Thy face is mine, and thou hast slandered it.

PARIS

Your face is mine, and you have slandered it.

JULIET

It may be so, for it is not mine own.—Are you at leisure, holy Father, now,Or shall I come to you at evening mass?

JULIET

That may be true, since my face is not my own. 

[To FRIAR LAWRENCE] Are you free, Father, or should I come to you at evening mass?

FRIAR LAWRENCE

My leisure serves me, pensive daughter, now.—My lord, we must entreat the time alone.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

I have time now, my sad daughter. 

[To PARIS] My lord, we must ask you for some time alone.

PARIS

God shield I should disturb devotion!—Juliet, on Thursday early will I rouse ye. [Kisses her] Till then, adieu, and keep this holy kiss.

PARIS

God forbid that I should intrude on confession! Juliet, I will wake you early on Thursday. [Kissing her] Until then, goodbye, and keep this holy kiss.

PARIS exits.

JULIET

O, shut the door! And when thou hast done so,Come weep with me, past hope, past cure, past help.

JULIET

Oh, shut the door! And when you’ve done that, come weep with me. My situation is beyond hope, beyond cure, beyond help!

FRIAR LAWRENCE

O Juliet, I already know thy grief. It strains me past the compass of my wits. I hear thou must, and nothing may prorogue it, On Thursday next be married to this county.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Oh, Juliet, I already know why you’re so sad. It’s too difficult a problem for me to know how to solve. I’ve heard that on the coming Thursday you must marry this count, and nothing can delay it.

JULIET

Tell me not, Friar, that thou hear’st of this, Unless thou tell me how I may prevent it. If in thy wisdom thou canst give no help, Do thou but call my resolution wise, And with this knife I’ll help it presently. [Shows him a knife] God joined my heart and Romeo’s, thou our hands. And ere this hand, by thee to Romeo sealed, Shall be the label to another deed, Or my true heart with treacherous revolt Turn to another, this shall slay them both. Therefore out of thy long-experienced time, Give me some present counsel, or, behold, ‘Twixt my extremes and me this bloody knife Shall play the umpire, arbitrating that Which the commission of thy years and art Could to no issue of true honor bring. Be not so long to speak. I long to die If what thou speak’st speak not of remedy.

JULIET

Friar, don't tell me that you’ve heard all this unless you can tell me how I can prevent it. If with all your wisdom even you can’t help, then you must agree that my resolution to die is wise. And this knife will help me do it. [Revealing a knife] God joined my heart to Romeo’s, and you joined our hands. Before my hand or heart—which are bound to Romeo—are given to another man, I’ll use this knife to kill myself. So either use your long experience and education to give me some advice about what to do, or watch as I use this knife like a judge to honorably resolve the extreme situation in which I’m caught. Don’t wait long to speak. I want to die if what you say isn’t a solution.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Hold, daughter. I do spy a kind of hope, Which craves as desperate an execution As that is desperate which we would prevent. If, rather than to marry County Paris, Thou hast the strength of will to slay thyself, Then is it likely thou wilt undertake A thing like death to chide away this shame, That copest with death himself to ’scape from it. An if thou darest, I’ll give thee remedy.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Wait, daughter. I see a ray of hope. But it will require an act as desperate as the situation we want to avoid. If you have the willpower to kill yourself rather than marry Count Paris, then you’ll likely agree to experience something like death to escape this problem. You can wrestle with death itself in order to escape from death. If you dare to do it, I’ll give you the solution.

JULIET

O, bid me leap, rather than marry Paris, From off the battlements of yonder tower; Or walk in thievish ways; or bid me lurk Where serpents are; chain me with roaring bears; Or shut me nightly in a charnel house, O’ercovered quite with dead men’s rattling bones, With reeky shanks and yellow chapless skulls; Or bid me go into a new-made grave And hide me with a dead man in his shroud— Things that, to hear them told, have made me tremble— And I will do it without fear or doubt, To live an unstained wife to my sweet love.

JULIET

To avoid marrying Paris I’d jump from the top of a tower; or walk down thief-infested alleys; or sit among a nest of serpents; or be chained up with wild bears; or be shut up every night in a crypt full of rattling bones, stinking flesh, and skulls without jawbones; or climb into a freshly dug grave and hide beneath the shroud of a dead man. All those things make me tremble when I hear them said, but I’ll do them without fear or dread in order to be a pure wife to my sweet love.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Hold, then. Go home, be merry. Give consent To marry Paris. Wednesday is tomorrow. Tomorrow night look that thou lie alone. Let not the Nurse lie with thee in thy chamber. [Shows her a vial] Take thou this vial, being then in bed, And this distillèd liquor drink thou off, When presently through all thy veins shall run A cold and drowsy humor, for no pulse Shall keep his native progress, but surcease. No warmth, no breath shall testify thou livest. The roses in thy lips and cheeks shall fade To wanny ashes, thy eyes’ windows fall Like death when he shuts up the day of life. Each part, deprived of supple government, Shall, stiff and stark and cold, appear like death. And in this borrowed likeness of shrunk death Thou shalt continue two and forty hours, And then awake as from a pleasant sleep. Now, when the bridegroom in the morning comes To rouse thee from thy bed, there art thou dead. Then, as the manner of our country is, In thy best robes uncovered on the bier Thou shalt be borne to that same ancient vault Where all the kindred of the Capulets lie. In the meantime, against thou shalt awake, Shall Romeo by my letters know our drift, And hither shall he come, and he and I Will watch thy waking, and that very night Shall Romeo bear thee hence to Mantua. And this shall free thee from this present shame, If no inconstant toy, nor womanish fear, Abate thy valor in the acting it.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

Be strong, then. Go home, be cheerful, and agree to marry Paris. Tomorrow is Wednesday. Tomorrow night make sure that you go to sleep alone. Don’t let the Nurse sleep in your bedroom. [Showing her a vial] Drink this liquor when you’re in bed. A cold, sleepy feeling will then run through your veins, and your pulse will cease. Your body will go cold, and you’ll stop breathing. The red of your lips and cheeks will fade to a pale ashen color, and your eyelids will close just as if you were dead. Your body will lose control over its own movement, and will become stiff as that of a corpse. You’ll remain in this simulation of death for forty-two hours, and then you’ll wake as if from a pleasant sleep. So when the bridegroom comes to wake you from your bed in the morning, he will think that you are dead. Then, as is the tradition of our city, you’ll be dressed in your best clothes and placed on an uncovered funeral bier, and carried to the Capulet tomb that holds all of your dead relatives. Meanwhile, before you wake up, I’ll send word to Romeo of our plan. He’ll come here, and we’ll keep a watch over you as you wake. That night, Romeo will take you with him to Mantua. So, as long as you don’t change your mind or let your womanly fear interfere with your courage, you’ll be free from the current situation which threatens to force you into sin.

JULIET

Give me, give me! O, tell not me of fear!

JULIET

Give it to me! Don’t talk to me about fear.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

[Gives her the vial] Hold. Get you gone. Be strong and prosperousIn this resolve. I’ll send a friar with speedTo Mantua with my letters to thy lord.

FRIAR LAWRENCE

[Giving her the vial] Now go. Be strong and good luck. I’ll send a friar speeding to Mantua with my letter to Romeo.

JULIET

Love give me strength, and strength shall help afford. Farewell, dear father.

JULILET

Love, give me strength, and that strength will help me. Goodbye, dear father.

They exit separately.

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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.