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Act 1, Scene 3


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Original Play

Modern Translation

 

Enter LADY CAPULET and NURSE
 
LADY CAPULET and the NURSE enter.
 

 

LADY CAPULET
Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her forth to me.

LADY CAPULET
Nurse, where’s my daughter? Tell her to come here.





 

NURSE
Now, by my maidenhead at twelve year old
I bade her come. What, lamb! What, ladybird!
God forbid! Where’s this girl? What, Juliet!

NURSE
I swear by my virginity at age twelve, I told her to come. What is this?! Heaven forbid! Where is she? Juliet!

 

Enter JULIET
 
JULIET enters.
 

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5
 

JULIET
How now, who calls?

JULIET
What? Who’s calling me?

 

NURSE
Your mother.

NURSE
Your mother.

 

JULIET
Madam, I am here. What is your will?

JULIET
Madam, I’m here. What do you want?

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10
 

LADY CAPULET
This is the matter.—Nurse, give leave awhile,
We must talk in secret.—Nurse, come back again.
I have remembered me. Thou’s hear our counsel.
Thou know’st my daughter’s of a pretty age.

LADY CAPULET
Here’s what I want—Nurse, leave us for a bit while we talk privately—wait, no, Nurse, come back. I just remembered, you can listen to our secrets. You know my daughter’s age.

 

NURSE
Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.

NURSE
Yes, I know her age to the hour.

 

LADY CAPULET
She’s not fourteen.

LADY CAPULET
She’s not yet fourteen.

 

NURSE
I’ll lay fourteen of my teeth—and yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four—she is not fourteen. How long is it now to Lammastide?

NURSE
I’d bet fourteen of my teeth—but, to be honest, I actually only have four teeth—that she’s not fourteen. How long is it until Lammastide?

 

LADY CAPULET
A fortnight and odd days.

LADY CAPULET
Two weeks and a few odd days.

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25
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30
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35
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40
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45
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50
 

NURSE
Even or odd, of all days in the year,
Come Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
Susan and she—God rest all Christian souls!—
Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God.
She was too good for me. But, as I said,
On Lammas Eve at night shall she be fourteen.
That shall she. Marry, I remember it well.
‘Tis since the earthquake now eleven years,
And she was weaned—I never shall forget it—
Of all the days of the year, upon that day.
For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
Sitting in the sun under the dovehouse wall.
My lord and you were then at Mantua.—
Nay, I do bear a brain.—But, as I said,
When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
“Shake!” quoth the dovehouse. ‘Twas no need, I trow,
To bid me trudge.
And since that time it is eleven years,
For then she could stand alone. Nay, by the rood,
She could have run and waddled all about,
For even the day before, she broke her brow.
And then my husband—God be with his soul!
He was a merry man—took up the child.
“Yea,” quoth he, “Dost thou fall upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit,
Wilt thou not, Jule?” and, by my holy dame,
The pretty wretch left crying and said “ay.”
To see now, how a jest shall come about!
I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
I never should forget it. “Wilt thou not, Jule?” quoth he.
And, pretty fool, it stinted and said “ay.”

NURSE
Even or odd, of all the days in the year, she’ll be fourteen on the night of Lammas Eve. She and my daughter Susan—God rest all Christian souls—were born that same day. Well, Susan died and is now with God. She was too good for me. But, as I said, on the night of Lammas Eve, Juliet will be fourteen. Yes, she will indeed. I remember it well. It’s been eleven years since the earthquake, and it was on that very day that she stopped nursing from my breast. I’ll never forget it. I had put some bitter wormwood on my breast as I was sitting in the sun, under the wall of the dovehouse. Your husband and you were in Mantua. Oh my, what a great memory I have! As I said, when Juliet tasted the bitter wormwood on my nipple, the pretty little thing got angry with my breast. That’s when the earthquake hit and the dovehouse started to shake. You didn’t have to tell me to get out of there. It’s been eleven years since then. She could stand up by herself then. No, in fact, by then she could run and waddle all over the place. I remember because just the day before she had cut her forehead. My husband—God rest his soul, he was a merry man—picked Juliet up. “Oh,” he said, “Did you fall on your face? You’ll fall backward when you grow up, won’t you, Jule?” And, by God, the pretty little thing stopped crying and said, “Yes.” To watch a joke come true! Even if I live a thousand years I’ll never forget it. “Won’t you, Jule,” he said. And the pretty fool stopped crying and said, “Yes.”

 

LADY CAPULET
Enough of this. I pray thee, hold thy peace.

LADY CAPULET
Enough. Please be quiet.

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55




 

NURSE
Yes, madam. Yet I cannot choose but laugh
To think it should leave crying and say “ay.”
And yet, I warrant, it had upon its brow
A bump as big as a young cockerel’s stone,
A perilous knock, and it cried bitterly.
“Yea,” quoth my husband, “Fall’st upon thy face?
Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age.
Wilt thou not, Jule?” It stinted and said “ay.”

NURSE
Yes ,madam. But I have to laugh when I think that the baby stopped crying and said, “Yes.” What’s more, I swear she had a bump on her forehead as big as a rooster’s testicle. It was quite a knock she took, and she was crying bitterly. “Yes,” said my husband, “Did you fall on your face? You’ll fall backward when you grow up, won’t you, Jule?” And she stopped crying and said, “Yes.’

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60
 

JULIET
And stint thou too, I pray thee, Nurse, say I.

JULIET
Stop now, Nurse, please.






 

NURSE
Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace!
Thou wast the prettiest babe that e’er I nursed.
An I might live to see thee married once,
I have my wish.

NURSE
Peace. I’m done. May you recieve God’s grace. You were the prettiest baby I ever nursed. If I live to see you get married someday, my wishes will be fulfilled.

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65


 

LADY CAPULET
Marry, that “marry” is the very theme
I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet,
How stands your disposition to be married?

LADY CAPULET
In fact, marriage is exactly what I came here to discuss. Tell me, Juliet my daughter, what do you think about getting married?

 

JULIET
It is an honor that I dream not of.

JULIET
It;s an honor that I don’t think about at all.

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70
 

NURSE
An honor! Were not I thine only nurse,
I would say thou hadst sucked wisdom from thy teat.

NURSE
“An honor!” If I weren’t the only nurse you’ve had, I’d say you’d sucked wisdom from the breast that fed you.

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75
 

LADY CAPULET
Well, think of marriage now. Younger than you
Here in Verona, ladies of esteem
Are made already mothers. By my count,
I was your mother much upon these years
That you are now a maid. Thus then in brief:
The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.

LADY CAPULET
Well, you should start thinking about marriage. In Verona girls from noble families who are younger than you have already become mothers. By my count, I was already your mother at around your age, while you remain a virgin. So, to be brief: the valiant Paris wants to marry you.




 

NURSE
A man, young lady! Lady, such a man
As all the world. Why, he’s a man of wax.

NURSE
What a man, young lady! He’s a man as great as any other in the world. He’s so perfect it’s as if he were sculpted from wax.

 

LADY CAPULET
Verona’s summer hath not such a flower.

LADY CAPULET
Verona in the summertime has no flower as fine as him.

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80
 

NURSE
Nay, he’s a flower. In faith, a very flower.

NURSE
He’s a fine flower, absolutely, a flower.

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90
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95
 

LADY CAPULET
What say you? Can you love the gentleman?
This night you shall behold him at our feast.
Read o’er the volume of young Paris’ face
And find delight writ there with beauty’s pen.
Examine every married lineament
And see how one another lends content,
And what obscured in this fair volume lies
Find written in the margin of his eyes.
This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
To beautify him only lacks a cover.
The fish lives in the sea, and ’tis much pride
For fair without the fair within to hide.
That book in many’s eyes doth share the glory
That in gold clasps locks in the golden story.
So shall you share all that he doth possess
By having him, making yourself no less.

LADY CAPULET
What do you say, Juliet? Can you love this gentleman? Tonight he’ll be at our feast. Look at his face and delight in his beauty. Examine how all the lines of his features combine to make him handsome. And what you can’t see in his beauty, find by looking in his eyes. This wonderful, loving man lacks only a bride to make him perfect. As fish do not hide from the sea, neither should a beauty like you hide from a handsome man like him. Everyone thinks he’s handsome, and whoever becomes his bride would be equally loved. You would share all that he possesses, and lose nothing by having him.

 

NURSE
No less? Nay, bigger. Women grow by men.

NURSE
Lose nothing? No, you’d get bigger. Men make women bigger (editor’s note: by making them pregnant).

 

LADY CAPULET
Speak briefly. Can you like of Paris, love?

LADY CAPULET
Answer me now. Can you love Paris?

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100
 

JULIET
I’ll look to like if looking liking move.
But no more deep will I endart mine eye
Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

JULIET
I’ll look at him with the intent to like him, if looking at him moves me to like him. But I won’t let myself fall for him any more than your permission allows.

 

Enter PETER
 
PETER enters.
 

 

PETER
Madam, the guests are come, supper served up, you called, my young lady asked for, the Nurse cursed in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I must hence to wait. I beseech you, follow straight.

PETER
Madam, the guests are here and dinner is served. Your guests call for you and Juliet, while the servants in the pantry are cursing the Nurse. Things are getting out of control. I must rush off to serve the guests. Please, follow right after me.

 

LADY CAPULET
We follow thee.—Juliet, the county stays.

LADY CAPULET
We’ll follow you. Juliet, Paris is waiting for you.

 

NURSE
Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.

NURSE
Go, Juliet, and find the man who’ll give you happy nights that follow happy days.

 

Exeunt
 
All exit.
 

 

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