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Act 1, Scene 1


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Original Play

Modern Translation

 

Enter SAMPSON and GREGORY of the house of Capulet, with swords and bucklers

SAMPSON and GREGORY, servants of the Capulet family, enter carrying swords and small shields.

 

SAMPSON
Gregory, on my word, we’ll not carry coals.

SAMPSON
I swear, Gregory, we can’t let them humiliate us, as if we were carrying coal.

 

GREGORY
No, for then we should be colliers.

GREGORY
No, because then we’d be like coal miners.

 

SAMPSON
I mean, an we be in choler, we’ll draw.

SAMPSON
I mean, if they make us angry, we’ll draw our swords.

 

GREGORY
Ay, while you live, draw your neck out of collar.

GREGORY
You seem to focus more on getting yourself out of any trouble that might lead to the hangman’s collar.

*
5
 

SAMPSON
I strike quickly, being moved.

SAMPSON
I hit hard, when I’m motivated.

 

GREGORY
But thou art not quickly moved to strike.

GREGORY
But you avoid getting “motivated,” so you don’t ever have to hit.

 

SAMPSON
A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

SAMPSON
One of those Montague jerks would motivate me.




 

GREGORY
To move is to stir, and to be valiant is to stand.
Therefore if thou art moved thou runn’st away.

GREGORY
To be motivated is to act, while to be valiant is to face a fight. When you’re motivated, you just run away.

*
10
 

SAMPSON
A dog of that house shall move me to stand. I will take the wall of any man or maid of Montague’s.

SAMPSON
If I saw a Montague, I’d face him. I’d walk on the side of the street closer to the wall (forcing the Montague into the gutter).

 

GREGORY
That shows thee a weak slave, for the weakest goes to the wall.

GREGORY
Then you must be a weakling, because it’s the weak who get shoved up against a wall.

*
*
*
15
 

SAMPSON
‘Tis true, and therefore women, being the weaker vessels, are ever thrust to the wall. Therefore I will push Montague’s men from the wall, and thrust his maids to the wall.

SAMPSON
That’s true, which is why women, being the weaker sex, get “thrust to the wall.” So I’ll push Montague’s men into the gutter, and thrust Montague women to the wall.

 

GREGORY
The quarrel is between our masters and us their men.

GREGORY
The feud is between our masters and us, their servants.

*
*
*
20
 

SAMPSON
‘Tis all one. I will show myself a tyrant. When I have fought with the men, I will be civil with the maids. I will cut off their heads.

SAMPSON
It’s all the same. I’ll be the Montague’s master. After fighting with the men, I’ll be nice to the maids—I’ll cut off their heads.

 

GREGORY
The heads of the maids?

GREGORY
You’ll cut off the heads of the maids?




 

SAMPSON
Ay, the heads of the maids, or their maidenheads.
Take it in what sense thou wilt.

SAMPSON
The heads of the maids or their maidenheads. Interpret my comment however you prefer.

*
25
 

GREGORY
They must take it in sense that feel it.

GREGORY
It’s the maids you rape or kill or who will have to sense it.




 

SAMPSON
Me they shall feel while I am able to stand, and
’tis known I am a pretty piece of flesh.

SAMPSON
The maids will feel me as long as I can stand upright. Everyone knows I’m a stud.

 

GREGORY
‘Tis well thou art not fish. If thou hadst, thou hadst been poor-john.

GREGORY
It’s a good thing you’re not a fish, or else (much like your erection) you’d be dried and shriveled like salted fish.

 

Enter ABRAM and another SERVINGMAN

ABRAM and another servant of the Montagues enter.

 

Draw thy tool! Here comes of the house of Montagues.

Draw your sword! Here come some Montague servants

*
30
 

SAMPSON
My naked weapon is out. Quarrel! I will back thee.

SAMPSON
I’ve drawn my naked sword. Fight them. I’ll back you up.

 

GREGORY
How? Turn thy back and run?

GREGORY
How? By turning your back and running?

 

SAMPSON
Fear me not.

SAMPSON
Don’t worry about me.

 

GREGORY
No, marry. I fear thee.

GREGORY
Sorry, but I do worry about you.

 

SAMPSON
Let us take the law of our sides. Let them begin.

SAMPSON
Let’s make sure the law is on our sides by getting them to start the fight.

*
35
 

GREGORY
I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

GREGORY
I’ll frown at them as I pass them. How they respond is up to them.

 

SAMPSON
Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them, which is a disgrace to them, if they bear it. (bites his thumb)

SAMPSON
No, I’ll bite my thumb at them. That’s an insult, and they’ll be disgraced if they don’t react.

 

ABRAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

ABRAM
Excuse me, sir, are you biting your thumb at us?

 

SAMPSON
I do bite my thumb, sir.

SAMPSON
I am biting my thumb.

 

ABRAM
Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

ABRAM
But are you biting your thumb at us?

*
*
40
 

SAMPSON
(aside to GREGORY)
Is the law of our side if I say “ay”?

SAMPSON
(whispering to GREGORY) Is the law on our side if I say yes?




 

GREGORY
(aside to SAMPSON)
No.

GREGORY
(whispering to SAMPSON) No.

 

SAMPSON
No, sir. I do not bite my thumb at you, sir, but I bite my thumb, sir.

SAMPSON
I’m not biting my thumb at you. But I am biting my thumb.

*
45
 

GREGORY
Do you quarrel, sir?

GREGORY
Do you want to fight us?

 

ABRAM
Quarrel, sir? No, sir.

ABRAM
Fight? No.

 

SAMPSON
But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as you.

SAMPSON
If you do want to fight, then I’m up for it. My master is as good as yours.

 

ABRAM
No better.

ABRAM
But not better than mine.

 

SAMPSON
Well, sir.

SAMPSON
Well...

 

Enter BENVOLIO

BENVOLIO enters.

*
50
 

GREGORY
(aside to SAMPSON) Say “better.” Here comes one of my master’s kinsmen.

GREGORY
(whispering to SAMPSON) Say “better.” One of our master’s kinsmen has just arrived.

 

SAMPSON
(to ABRAM) Yes, better, sir.

SAMPSON
Yes, my master is better than yours, sir.

 

ABRAM
You lie.

ABRAM
You’re a liar.

 

SAMPSON
Draw, if you be men.—Gregory, remember thy washing blow.

SAMPSON
Draw your swords, if you’re men. Gregory, get ready to slash them.

 

They fight

They fight

*
*
55
 

BENVOLIO
(beats down their swords) Part, fools!
Put up your swords. You know not what you do.

BENVOLIO
(hits their swords with his own) Break it up, fools! Sheathe your swords. You don’t know what you’re doing.

 

Enter TYBALT

TYBALT enters.




 

TYBALT
What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
Turn thee, Benvolio. Look upon thy death.

TYBALT
What, have you drawn your sword to fight with servants? Turn around, Benvolio, and see the man who will kill you.




 

BENVOLIO
I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,
Or manage it to part these men with me.

BENVOLIO
I’m just trying to keep the peace. Put away your sword, or else use it to help me stop this fighting.

*
60


 

TYBALT
What, drawn, and talk of peace? I hate the word,
As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
Have at thee, coward!

TYBALT
You hold a drawn sword, and say “peace?” I hate that word, just as I hate hell, all Montagues, and you. Now we fight, coward!

 

They fight. Enter, several of both houses, who join the fray; then enter Citizens, with clubs

BENVOLIO and TYBALT fight. Other Montagues and Capulets enter and also start fighting. Veronese CITIZENS enter, carrying clubs.




 

CITIZENS
Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!
Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

CITIZENS
Beat them down with your clubs, spears, and axes. Down with the Capulets! Down with the Montagues!

 

Enter old CAPULET in his gown, and his wife, LADY CAPULET

CAPULET, in a sleeping gown, enters with LADY CAPULET.

*
65
 

CAPULET
What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

CAPULET
What is this noise? Give me my long sword. Now!

 

LADY CAPULET
A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

LADY CAPULET
You need a crutch! Why are you calling for a sword?

 

Enter old MONTAGUE and his wife, LADY MONTAGUE

MONTAGUE enters, sword drawn, with LADY MONTAGUE.




 

CAPULET
My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,
And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

CAPULET
Give me my sword! Old Montague has arrived, and he’s waving his sword just to infuriate me.

 

MONTAGUE
Thou villain Capulet! Hold me not. Let me go.

MONTAGUE
You are a villain, Capulet! (LADY MONTAGUE grabs his arm.) Let go of me. Don’t stop me.

*
70
 

LADY MONTAGUE
Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

LADY MONTAGUE
You’re not taking one step to try to fight an enemy.

 

Enter PRINCE ESCALUS, with his train

PRINCE ESCALUS enters with his attendants.

*
*
*
*
*
75
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*
*
*
80
*
*
*
*
85
*
*
*
*
90



 

PRINCE
Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
Profaners of this neighbor-stainèd steel!—
Will they not hear?—What, ho! You men, you beasts,
That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
Throw your mistempered weapons to the ground,
And hear the sentence of your movèd prince.
Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
Have thrice disturbed the quiet of our streets
And made Verona’s ancient Citizens
Cast by their grave-beseeming ornaments,
To wield old partisans in hands as old,
Cankered with peace, to part your cankered hate.
If ever you disturb our streets again,
Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
For this time, all the rest depart away.
You, Capulet, shall go along with me,
And, Montague, come you this afternoon
To know our farther pleasure in this case,
To old Free-town, our common judgment-place.
Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

PRINCE
You rebels and enemies of the peace, who curse your own weapons by turning them on your neighbors. Do you refuse to listen?—Silence! You men, you beasts, who can only put out the fire of your anger by spilling fountains of blood. I will torture you unless you drop your weapons from your bloody hands and listen to me, your enraged Prince. Because of nothing more than a casual word from you, Capulet and Montague, three battles have raged in our city’s streets. These battles have forced Verona’s citizens to take off their dignified clothes and jewelry and instead pick up old and rusty spears in order to put an end to your fighting. If any Capulet or Montague disturbs the peace in the future, they will be executed. Now everyone go home. Capulet, you come with me in order to hear what else I want from you. Montague, you come this afternoon to old Free-town, where I deliver my judgments. Everyone else, leave this place right now or I will have you killed.

 

Exeunt all but MONTAGUE, LADY MONTAGUE, and BENVOLIO

Everyone exits except MONTAGUE, LADY MONTAGUE, and BENVOLIO.

*
*
95
 

MONTAGUE
Who set this ancient quarrel new abroach?
Speak, nephew. Were you by when it began?

MONTAGUE
Tell me, nephew. Who stirred this old feud up again? Were you here to see it begin?

*
*
*
*
*
100
*
*
*
*
105
 

BENVOLIO
Here were the servants of your adversary,
And yours, close fighting ere I did approach.
I drew to part them. In the instant came
The fiery Tybalt, with his sword prepared,
Which, as he breathed defiance to my ears,
He swung about his head and cut the winds,
Who, nothing hurt withal, hissed him in scorn.
While we were interchanging thrusts and blows,
Came more and more and fought on part and part,
Till the Prince came, who parted either part.

BENVOLIO
Your servants were fighting Montague’s servants when I arrived. I drew my sword to try to stop them. Just then, the reckless Tybalt showed up with his sword drawn. He taunted me while swinging his sword through the air, producing a hissing sound. As we fought, more and more Capulets and Montagues showed up to join the battle. Finally, the Prince came and stopped the fighting.




 

LADY MONTAGUE
Oh, where is Romeo? Saw you him today?
Right glad I am he was not at this fray.

LADY MONTAGUE
Where’s Romeo? Have you seen him at all today? I’m happy he wasn’t around for this fight.

*
*
*
110
*
*
*
*
115
*
*
*
*
120
 

BENVOLIO
Madam, an hour before the worshipped sun
Peered forth the golden window of the east,
A troubled mind drove me to walk abroad,
Where, underneath the grove of sycamore
That westward rooteth from this city side,
So early walking did I see your son.
Towards him I made, but he was ‘ware of me
And stole into the covert of the wood.
I, measuring his affections by my own,
Which then most sought where most might not be found,
Being one too many by my weary self,
Pursued my humor not pursuing his,
And gladly shunned who gladly fled from me.

BENVOLIO
Madam, my mind was troubled this morning, so an hour before dawn I went out for a walk. As I walked, I saw your son beneath the sycamore grove that grows near the western edge of the city. I walked toward him, but he noticed me and ran and hid in the woods. I assumed that he must be feeling the same way I was and did not want to be bothered, since a person is often at his busiest when he is alone. So I continued on, happy to let him be and pursue my own private thoughts.

*
*
*
*
*
125
*
*
*
*
130


 

MONTAGUE
Many a morning hath he there been seen,
With tears augmenting the fresh morning’s dew,
Adding to clouds more clouds with his deep sighs.
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the farthest east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora’s bed,
Away from light steals home my heavy son,
And private in his chamber pens himself,
Shuts up his windows, locks fair daylight out,
And makes himself an artificial night.
Black and portentous must this humor prove
Unless good counsel may the cause remove.

MONTAGUE
He’s been seen at that spot on many mornings, his tears adding to the morning dew and his deep sighs thickening the clouds in the sky. Then, as soon as the happy sun begins to dawn, my unhappy son comes home in order to hide from the light. He keeps to himself in his bedroom, shutting his windows to keep out the daylight so that he can sit in an artificial night. His bad mood is likely to have a bad result, unless someone can give him good advice and remove the cause of his sadness. This mood of his is going to bring bad news, unless someone smart can fix what’s bothering him.

 

BENVOLIO
My noble uncle, do you know the cause?

BENVOLIO
My noble uncle, do you know what’s causing his mood?

 

MONTAGUE
I neither know it nor can learn of him.

MONTAGUE
I don’t. And he refuses to tell me.

*
135
 

BENVOLIO
Have you importuned him by any means?

BENVOLIO
You’ve done everything possible to get him to explain?

*
*
*
*
*
140
*
*
*
*
145
 

MONTAGUE
Both by myself and many other friends.
But he, his own affections’ counselor,
Is to himself—I will not say how true,
But to himself so secret and so close,
So far from sounding and discovery,
As is the bud bit with an envious worm,
Ere he can spread his sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate his beauty to the same.
Could we but learn from whence his sorrows grow.
We would as willingly give cure as know.

MONTAGUE
Both I and many of our friends have tried to speak with him. But he insists on sharing his thoughts only with himself, though I don’t know how good the advice is that he’s giving himself. He keeps his secrets so completely that he’s like a flower bud that can’t open to the air or sun because it’s been poisoned from within by the bite of a worm. If we could just find out the cause of his sadness, we’d try to help him as eagerly as we have tried to learn the reason for his sadness.

 

Enter ROMEO

ROMEO enters.




 

BENVOLIO
See, where he comes. So please you, step aside.
I’ll know his grievance or be much denied.

BENVOLIO
Here he comes. If it’s all right, please leave us alone. I’ll make him either tell me what’s wrong or force him to refuse me.




 

MONTAGUE
I would thou wert so happy by thy stay
To hear true shrift.—Come, madam, let’s away.

MONTAGUE
I hope you get to hear the true story. Come, madam, let’s go.

 

Exeunt MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE. Enter ROMEO

MONTAGUE and LADY MONTAGUE exit. ROMEO enters.

*
150
 

BENVOLIO
Good morrow, cousin.

BENVOLIO
Good morning, cousin.

 

ROMEO
      Is the day so young?

ROMEO
Is it still morning?

 

BENVOLIO
But new struck nine.

BENVOLIO
It’s just barely after nine.




 

ROMEO
      Ay me! Sad hours seem long.
Was that my father that went hence so fast?

ROMEO
Oh, my! Time goes by slowly when you’re sad.
Was that my father who just rushed away?

 

BENVOLIO
It was. What sadness lengthens Romeo’s hours?

BENVOLIO
It was. What sadness is making your hours long?

 

ROMEO
Not having that which, having, makes them short.

ROMEO
Lacking the thing which would make them short.

*
155
 

BENVOLIO
In love?

BENVOLIO
Are you in love?

 

ROMEO
Out.

ROMEO
Out.

 

BENVOLIO
Of love?

BENVOLIO
So you’re not in love?

 

ROMEO
Out of her favor, where I am in love.

ROMEO
I am in love. But the one I love does not love me.

*
*
160
 

BENVOLIO
Alas, that love, so gentle in his view,
Should be so tyrannous and rough in proof!

BENVOLIO
Oh, it is sad how love, which in theory seems like such a gentle thing, should in actual experience be so rough!

*
*
*
*
*
165
*
*
*
*
170



 

ROMEO
Alas, that love, whose view is muffled still,
Should, without eyes, see pathways to his will!
Where shall we dine?—O me! What fray was here?
Yet tell me not, for I have heard it all.
Here’s much to do with hate but more with love.
Why then, O brawling love, O loving hate,
O anything of nothing first created!
O heavy lightness, serious vanity,
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health,
Still-waking sleep, that is not what it is!
This love feel I, that feel no love in this.
Dost thou not laugh?

ROMEO
How can love, which is supposed to be blind, force you to be able to do what it wants? Where should we eat? (Noticing blood) Wait, what fighting happened here? No, don’t tell me. I already know: it was something that had a lot to with hate, but even more to do with love. O brawling love! O loving hate! Love that originates from nothing! Heavy lightness! Serious frivolity! Beautiful shapes smashed together to create an ugly chaos. Love is like heavy feathers, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health, waking sleep, the opposite of what it is! That’s the love I feel, since no one loves me in return. Do you laugh?

 

BENVOLIO
      No, coz, I rather weep.

BENVOLIO
No, cousin, I cry.

 

ROMEO
Good heart, at what?

ROMEO
But why, my good man?

*
175
 

BENVOLIO
At thy good heart’s oppression.

BENVOLIO
Beacuse of how love has oppreseed your heart.

*
*
*
*
*
180
*
*
*
*
185
 

ROMEO
Why, such is love’s transgression.
Griefs of mine own lie heavy in my breast,
Which thou wilt propagate, to have it pressed
With more of thine. This love that thou hast shown
Doth add more grief to too much of mine own.
Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vexed, a sea nourished with loving tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall, and a preserving sweet.
Farewell, my coz.

ROMEO
That’s how it works with love. My own sadness is a heavy weight on my chest, and now you’re going to add your own sadness to mine. The love you are showing me is only increasing my grief. Love is like a smoke made out of the sighs of lovers. When the smoke clears, love is a fire burning in the lovers eyes. But if that love is thwarted, then it is a sea made out of lover’s tears. What else is love? A wise madness. A sweet candy that makes you choke. Goodbye, my cousin.




 

BENVOLIO
      Soft! I will go along.
And if you leave me so, you do me wrong.

BENVOLIO
Wait! I’ll come with you. If you leave me behind, you’ll be insulting me.




 

ROMEO
Tut, I have lost myself. I am not here.
This is not Romeo. He’s some other where.

ROMEO
Man! I’m not acting like myself. It’s as if I’m not even here. This is not Romeo, he’s somewhere else.

*
190
 

BENVOLIO
Tell me in sadness, who is that you love.

BENVOLIO
Tell me, seriously, who is the one you love?

 

ROMEO
What, shall I groan and tell thee?

ROMEO
What? Should I cry out the name in a groan of sadness?

 

BENVOLIO
Groan! Why, no. But sadly, tell me who.

BENVOLIO
Groan? No. Just tell me who it is.

*
*
*
195
 

ROMEO
A sick man in sadness makes his will,
A word ill urged to one that is so ill.
In sadness, cousin, I do love a woman.

ROMEO
You wouldn’t ask a sick man to “seriously” write out his will—it would only make him feel worse. Seriously, cousin, I love a woman.

 

BENVOLIO
I aimed so near when I supposed you loved.

BENVOLIO
I figured that when I guessed you were in love.

 

ROMEO
A right good markman! And she’s fair I love.

ROMEO
Then you have good aim! The woman I love is beautiful.

 

BENVOLIO
A right fair mark, fair coz, is soonest hit.

BENVOLIO
A beautiful “target,” my cousin, is usually the one that is hit fastest.

*
*
200
*
*
*
*
205


 

ROMEO
Well, in that hit you miss. She’ll not be hit
With Cupid’s arrow. She hath Dian’s wit.
And, in strong proof of chastity well armed
From love’s weak childish bow, she lives uncharmed.
She will not stay the siege of loving terms,
Nor bide th’ encounter of assailing eyes,
Nor ope her lap to saint-seducing gold.
Oh, she is rich in beauty, only poor
That when she dies, with beauty dies her store.

ROMEO
Well, now you missed the target. She won’t be hit by Cupid’s arrow. She’s like Diana, protected by the armor of chastity. She is immune to the weak and childish arrows of love. She ignores words of love, refuses to even let you look at her with loving eyes, or open her lap to receive golden gifts. She’s rich in beauty. But she’s also poor, because when she dies her beauty will be destroyed along with her.

 

BENVOLIO
Then she hath sworn that she will still live chaste?

BENVOLIO
So she’s sworn to live her life a virgin ?

*
*
210
*
*
*
*
215
 

ROMEO
She hath, and in that sparing makes huge waste,
For beauty, starved with her severity,
Cuts beauty off from all posterity.
She is too fair, too wise, wisely too fair,
To merit bliss by making me despair.
She hath forsworn to love, and in that vow
Do I live dead that live to tell it now.

ROMEO
She has, and in doing so she wastes her beauty, because by living in chastity she ensures that she will never pas her beauty on to her children. She’s too beautiful, too smart, to be allowed to gain entrance to Heaven by making me despair. She’s sworn never to love, and in that vow has sentenced me to a kind of living death.

 

BENVOLIO
Be ruled by me. Forget to think of her.

BENVOLIO
Listen to me. Stop thinking about her.

 

ROMEO
O, teach me how I should forget to think!

ROMEO
How can I stop myself from thinking?




 

BENVOLIO
By giving liberty unto thine eyes.
Examine other beauties.

BENVOLIO
By letting your eyes wander, and looking at other good-looking girls.

*
*
220
*
*
*
*
225



 

ROMEO
               ‘Tis the way
To call hers exquisite, in question more.
These happy masks that kiss fair ladies’ brows,
Being black, puts us in mind they hide the fair.
He that is strucken blind cannot forget
The precious treasure of his eyesight lost.
Show me a mistress that is passing fair;
What doth her beauty serve but as a note
Where I may read who passed that passing fair?
Farewell. Thou canst not teach me to forget.

ROMEO
Such comparisons will only make her own beauty more obvious. It will be like the masks that pretty girls wear to hide their faces, and which, by hiding their beauty, make us think of it more. A blind man can’t forget the precious eyesight he lost. Show me any beautiful girl. Her beauty is no more than a reminder of where I can see someone who is even more beautiful. Goodbye. You can’t teach me to forget.

 

BENVOLIO
I’ll pay that doctrine or else die in debt.

BENVOLIO
I’ll take that bet, or else die in debt.

 

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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