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Act 1, Scene 2


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Original Play

Modern Translation

 

Enter CAPULET, PARIS, and PETER, a servant
 
CAPULET, PARIS, and a servant, PETER, enter
 





 

CAPULET
But Montague is bound as well as I,
In penalty alike. And ’tis not hard, I think,
For men so old as we to keep the peace.

CAPULET
Montague has sworn the same oath I have, and is bound by the same penalty. I don’t think it should be hard for men as old as us to remain peaceful.

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5
 

PARIS
Of honorable reckoning are you both.
And pity ’tis you lived at odds so long.
But now, my lord, what say you to my suit?

PARIS
You both have honorable reputations. It’s a pity you’ve been enemies for so long. But, now, how do you respond to my request?

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10
 

CAPULET
But saying o’er what I have said before.
My child is yet a stranger in the world.
She hath not seen the change of fourteen years.
Let two more summers wither in their pride
Ere we may think her ripe to be a bride.

CAPULET
By repeating what I’ve said before. My child is still extremely young. She’s not yet even fourteen years old. Let’s let two more summers come and go before we start to think that she would be ready to be a bride.

 

PARIS
Younger than she are happy mothers made.

PARIS
Girls who are younger than your daughter often become happy mothers.

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35




 

CAPULET
And too soon marred are those so early made.
Earth hath swallowed all my hopes but she.
She’s the hopeful lady of my earth.
But woo her, gentle Paris, get her heart.
My will to her consent is but a part.
An she agreed within her scope of choice,
Lies my consent and fair according voice.
This night I hold an old accustomed feast,
Whereto I have invited many a guest
Such as I love. And you among the store,
One more, most welcome, makes my number more.
At my poor house look to behold this night
Earth-treading stars that make dark heaven light.
Such comfort as do lusty young men feel
When well-appareled April on the heel
Of limping winter treads. Even such delight
Among fresh fennel buds shall you this night
Inherit at my house. Hear all, all see,
And like her most whose merit most shall be—
Which on more view of many, mine, being one,
May stand in number, though in reckoning none,
Come, go with me.
(to PETER, giving him a paper)
                     Go, sirrah, trudge about
Through fair Verona. Find those persons out
Whose names are written there, and to them say
My house and welcome on their pleasure stay.

CAPULET
Girls who marry that young grow up too quickly. All of my hopes on this earth rest in her. But it is okay for you to woo her, gentle Paris; win her love. My permission for you to marry her is only part of it; she must also agree to marry you. Then my blessing on the marriage will confirm her choice. This very night I’m hosting a feast that I’ve celebrated for many years. I’ve invited many guests, many close friends. I’d like to invite you as well to be a most welcome guest. At my humble home tonight, you’ll see see stars that walk the earth and light the sky from below. Like all lusty young men, you’ll be delighted by the young women who are as fresh as spring flowers. Look at them all, and choose whichever woman you like best. Amidst all these girls, you may no longer think that my daughter’s the most beautiful. Come with me. (to PETER, handing him a paper) Go, sir, walk all around Verona. Find the people whose names are on this list and tell them they’re invited to my house tonight.

 

Exeunt CAPULET and PARIS
 
CAPULET and PARIS exit.
 

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40
 

PETER
Find them out whose names are written here? It is written, that the shoemaker should meddle with his yard and the tailor with his last, the fisher with his pencil and the painter with his nets. But I am sent to find those persons whose names are here writ, and can never find what names the writing person hath here writ. I must to the learned in good time!

PETER
Find the people whose names are on this list? It’s written that shoemakers and tailors should use each others’ tools, and that fisherman should play with paints while painters should play with with fishing nets. But now I’ve been sent to find the people on this list, and I can’t read. I’ll have to ask somebody educated to help me.

 

Enter BENVOLIO and ROMEO
 
BENVOLIO and ROMEO enter
 

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BENVOLIO
Tut man, one fire burns out another’s burning.
One pain is lessened by another’s anguish.
Turn giddy, and be helped by backward turning.
One desperate grief cures with another’s languish.
Take thou some new infection to thy eye,
And the rank poison of the old will die.

BENVOLIO
Come on, Romeo. Starting a new fire will put out the old one. An old pain is lessened by the arrival of a new one. If you make yourself dizzy, you can cure yourself by spinning in the other direction. A new grief will cure an old one. Stare obsessively at some new girl, and your former lovesickness will disappear.

 

ROMEO
Your plantain leaf is excellent for that.

ROMEO
The plantain leaf is excellent for that.

 

BENVOLIO
For what, I pray thee?

BENVOLIO
For what?

 

ROMEO
For your broken shin.

ROMEO
For treating your injured shin.

 

BENVOLIO
Why Romeo, art thou mad?

BENVOLIO
Have you gone mad?

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ROMEO
Not mad, but bound more than a madman is,
Shut up in prison, kept without my food,
Whipped and tormented and—Good e’en, good fellow.

ROMEO
No, though I’m bound more tightly than any mental patient is. I’m locked in a prison without food. I’m whipped, tortured—(to PETER) Good evening, good fellow.

 

PETER
God ‘i’ good e’en. I pray, sir, can you read?

PETER
A blessed good evening to you. Excuse me, sir, but do you know how to read?

 

ROMEO
Ay, mine own fortune in my misery.

ROMEO
Yes. I can read my fortune in my misery.

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PETER
Perhaps you have learned it without book. But I pray, can you read anything you see?

PETER
Perhaps you’ve learned to read from life rather than from books. But, I beg your answer, can you read anything you see?

 

ROMEO
Ay, if I know the letters and the language.

ROMEO
Yes, if I know the letters and the language.

 

PETER
Ye say honestly. Rest you merry.

PETER
You speak honestly. Have a nice day.

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70
 

ROMEO
Stay, fellow. I can read. (he reads the letter)
“Seigneur Martino and his wife and daughters;
County Anselme and his beauteous sisters;
The lady widow of Vitruvio;
Seigneur Placentio and his lovely nieces;
Mercutio and his brother Valentine;
Mine uncle Capulet, his wife and daughters;
My fair niece Rosaline and Livia;
Seigneur Valentio and his cousin Tybalt;
Lucio and the lively Helena.”
A fair assembly. Whither should they come?

ROMEO
Stay, friend. I can read. (He reads the letter) “Signor Martino and his wife and daughters, Count Anselme and his gorgeous sisters; the lady, Vitravio’s widow; Signor Placentio and his lovely nieces; Mercutio and his brother Valentine; My uncle Capulet and his wife and daughters; my fair niece Rosaline; Livia, Signor Valentio and his cousin Tybalt; Lucio and the lively Helena.” That’s quite a fancy list of people. Where are they supposed to go?

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75
 

PETER
Up.

PETER
Up.

 

ROMEO
Whither?

ROMEO
Where?

 

PETER
To supper; to our house.

PETER
To supper. To our house.

 

ROMEO
Whose house?

ROMEO
Whose house?

 

PETER
My master’s.

PETER
My master’s house.

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ROMEO
Indeed, I should have asked thee that before.

ROMEO
Indeed, I should have asked you that earlier.

 

PETER
Now I’ll tell you without asking. My master is the great rich Capulet, and if you be not of the house of Montagues, I pray come and crush a cup of wine. Rest you merry!

PETER
I’ll tell you so that you don’t have to ask. My master is the great, rich Capulet, and as long as you are not a Montague, I invite you to come and drink a cup of wine at our house. Have a nice day!

 

Exit PETER
 

PETER exits.
 

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85




 

BENVOLIO
At this same ancient feast of Capulet’s
Sups the fair Rosaline whom thou so loves
With all the admired beauties of Verona.
Go thither, and with unattainted eye
Compare her face with some that I shall show,
And I will make thee think thy swan a crow.

BENVOLIO
Rosaline whom you love so much is going to attend this traditional feast of Capulet’s, along with all the beautiful woman of Verona. Go there and, without bias, compare her to some of the girls I’ll point out to you. I’ll show you that the woman you think is as beautiful as a swan is in fact as ugly as a crow.

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ROMEO
When the devout religion of mine eye
Maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires,
And these, who, often drowned, could never die,
Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars!
One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun
Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.

ROMEO
If my eyes ever show me such a lie about the woman they worship, then may my tears turn into flames so that my eyes, which never drowned in all my tears, be burned for being such clear liars! A woman more beautiful my love? The sun has never seen anyone as beautiful since the world began.

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100
 

BENVOLIO
Tut, you saw her fair, none else being by,
Herself poised with herself in either eye.
But in that crystal scales let there be weighed
Your lady’s love against some other maid
That I will show you shining at the feast,
And she shall scant show well that now shows best.

BENVOLIO
Oh come on. You decided she was beautiful when no one else was around and there was no one to compare her to except herself. But if instead you compare her to some other beautiful woman who I’ll point out to you at this feast, you’ll see that she’s far from the best.

 

ROMEO
I’ll go along, no such sight to be shown,
But to rejoice in splendor of mine own.

ROMEO
I’ll go with you. Not because I think I’ll see such a sight as you suggest, but so I can rejoice in the beauty of the woman I love.

 

Exeunt
 
They exit.
 
     

 

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