Enter ROMEO, MERCUTIO, BENVOLIO, with five or six
other MASKERS and TORCHBEARERS
ROMEO, MERCUTIO, and BENVOLIO enter wearing
party masks. Five other men wearing party masks and carrying torches enter
What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
Or shall we on without apology?
What excuse will we make? Or should we enter without apology?
* * *
5 * * * *
The date is out of such prolixity.
We’ll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,
Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,
Scaring the ladies like a crowkeeper,
Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
After the prompter for our entrance.
But let them measure us by what they will.
We’ll measure them a measure and be gone.
It’s no longer fashionable to talk that much. We’re not going
to announce our entrance with some guy blindfolded, dressed up as Cupid, and
carrying a toy bow in order to scare the ladies like some scarecrow. Nor will
we introduce ourselves with a memorized speech. They can judge us however
they want. We’ll dance a dance and then get out of there.
Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.
Being but heavy, I will bear the light.
Give me a torch. I don’t feel like dancing. Since I’m sad, I
might as well carry the light.
Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
No, sweet Romeo, you have to dance.
Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes
With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead
So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.
Not me, believe me. You’ve got on dancing shoes with nimble
soles. But my soul is made of lead that anchors me to the ground so heavily
that I can’t move.
You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings
And soar with them above a common bound.
You’re a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings and use them to soar
higher than the average man.
I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft
To soar with his light feathers, and so bound,
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.
I’ve been too strongly pierced by his arrow to soar. My
wounded heart won’t let me escape my dull sadness. I am sinking under love’s
And to sink in it, should you burthen love—
Too great oppression for a tender thing.
If you sink in love, then you’re
burdening it. You’re putting too much weight on
such a tender thing.
Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.
Is love really so tender? To me it seems too rough, too rude,
too unruly, and it pricks like a thorn.
* * * *
If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.—
Give me a case to put my visage in!
A visor for a visor.—What care I
What curious eye doth cote deformities?
Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.
If love is rough with you, be rough with love. Prick love
when it pricks you, and you’ll beat love down. Give me a mask to put over my
face. A mask to cover that mask I call my face. What do I care if someone
sees my flaws? Let the dark eyebrows of this mask blush for me.
Come, knock and enter. And no sooner in
But every man betake him to his legs.
Come on, let’s knock and go inside. And once inside, let’s
all start dancing.
A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart
Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels.
For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase,
I’ll be a candle holder, and look on.
The game was ne’er so fair, and I am done.
Give me a torch to carry. Let those with light hearts dance.
There’s an old proverb that fits me perfectly. I’ll hold a torch and watch.
The game looks like fun, but I’m done with it.
Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word.
If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire,
Or—save your reverence—love, wherein thou stick’st
Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!
Come on, “dun” is the color of a timid mouse. You’re being as
timid as a patrolman on night duty. If you’re a stick stuck in the mud, we’ll
pull you out—pardon me for being rude— out of the love in which you’re stuck
up to your ears. Come on, we’re wasting daylight.
Nay, that’s not so.
Uh, that’s wrong—it’s night.
I mean, sir, in delay.
We waste our lights in vain, like lights by day.
Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
I mean, sir, that by delaying we’re wasting our torches,
which is like wasting the sunshine during the day. Show your good judgment by
taking what I say the way I mean it, which is five times more important than
literally trusting your senses.
And we mean well in going to this mask,
But ’tis no wit to go.
We mean well by going to this party, but it’s not smart of us
Why, may one ask?
Why, may I ask?
I dreamt a dream tonight.
I dreamed a dream last night.
And so did I.
So did I.
Well, what was yours?
What was your dream?
That dreamers often lie.
I dreamed that dreamers often lie.
In bed asleep while they do dream things true.
They lie in bed while dreaming about true things.
Oh, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
Oh, then I see Queen Mab has visited you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomi
Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.
Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
Her traces of the smallest spider’s web,
Her collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
On courtiers’ knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail
Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep,
Then he dreams of another benefice.
Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five fathom deep, and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
This is she—
She’s the fairies’ midwife, and is no bigger than the stone
on the ring of a city councilman. She rides her carriage, which is pulled by
tiny little creatures, over men’s noses as they lie sleeping. The wheel
spokes of her carriage are made of spiders’ legs, its cover is made of
grasshopper wings, and its harnesses are made of the smallest spiderwebs. The
horse collars are made from moonbeams, while her whip is a single cobweb
attached to a cricket bone. Her wagon driver is a tiny gnat wearing a gray
coat that is not even half as large as a little round worm that comes from
the finger of a lazy young girl. (editor’s note: in
folklore, unmarried girls who were lazy were thought to have worms in their
blood.) Her carriage is an empty hazelnut, made by a squirrel and an
old worm, which have been the fairies’ carriage-builders for countless
years. With this magnificent carriage
she rides each night through the brains of lovers, who then dream about love.
She rides across courtiers’ knees, who then dream about bowing and curtsying.
She rides over lawyers’ fingers, who then dream about their fees. She rides
over ladies’ lips, and they immediately dream of kisses. But Queen Mab often
puts blisters on their lips because their breath smells of candy, which
angers her. Sometimes she rides over a courtier’s nose, and he dreams of
sniffing out a way to make some money. Sometimes she tickles a priest’s nose
with the tail of pig given as a tithe to the church, and he dreams of getting
a high-paid church position. Sometimes she drives over a soldier’s neck, and
he dreams of cutting the throats of foreigners, of breaking through
fortifications, of ambushes, of the finest-quality Spanish swords, and of
huge mugs of alcohol before suddenly waking, frightened, by the sound of
drums in his ears. Then he says a prayer or two and goes back to sleep. Mab
is the one who tangles the hair of horses’ manes at night and then hardens
the tangles in the foul, dirty hairs; tangles which, if you undo them, bring
bad luck. Mab is the hag who gives dreams of sex to virgins and teaches them
how to bear the weight of a lover and to bear a child. She’s the one—
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Thou talk’st of nothing.
Calm down, calm down! Mercutio, be calm. You’re talking about
* * * *
True, I talk of dreams,
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
Which is as thin of substance as the air
And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
Even now the frozen bosom of the north,
And, being angered, puffs away from thence,
Turning his face to the dew-dropping south.
True. I’m talking about dreams, which are produced by a brain
that’s doing nothing. Dreams are born of no more than empty fantasy, which is
as substanceless as air, and more unpredictable than the wind, which can
blows on the frozen north and then suddenly get angry and blow south.
This wind you talk of, blows us from ourselves.
Supper is done, and we shall come too late.
This wind you’re talking about is blowing us off course.
Dinner is already over. We’re going to get there too late.
* * * *
I fear too early, for my mind misgives
Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night’s revels, and expire the term
Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he that hath the steerage of my course,
Direct my sail. On, lusty gentlemen.
I fear we’re going to arrive too early. I have a feeling this
party tonight is fated to set in motion some awful destiny that will result
in my own untimely death. But whoever’s in charge of my fate can steer me
where they want. Let’s go, my lusty friends!