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Act 2, Prologue

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Original Play
Modern Translation


The CHORUS enters.


Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir.
That fair for which love groaned for and would die
With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.
Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike bewitchèd by the charm of looks,
But to his foe supposed he must complain,
And she steal love’s sweet bait from fearful hooks.
Being held a foe, he may not have access
To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear.
And she as much in love, her means much less
To meet her new beloved anywhere.
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,
Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.

Now Romeo’s old desire is on its deathbed, while a young love pushes to take its place. The girl Romeo groaned after and would have died for, when now compared to Juliet, is no longer beautiful to him. Now Romeo is loved and loves again—each bewitched by the others’ beauty. But the girl he loves is supposed to be his enemy, and she’s taken the sweet bait of love from a sharp hook. Because the Capulets think him an enemy, Romeo may not be able to get close enough to speak his words of love to her. And Juliet, just as much in love, has even less power to meet her new lover anywhere. Yet passion gives them power and time the opportunity to meet, as they blend extreme peril with extreme pleasure.


The CHORUS exits.


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