The clock struck nine when I did send the Nurse.
In half an hour she promised to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him. That’s not so.
Oh, she is lame! Love’s heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams,
Driving back shadows over louring hills.
Therefore do nimble-pinioned doves draw love
And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball.
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me.
But old folks, many feign as they were dead,
Unwieldy, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
It was nine o’clock when I sent the Nurse. She promised
to be back in half an hour. Maybe she can’t find him. No, that makes no
sense. Oh, she’s so slow! Love’s messengers should be thoughts, which fly ten
times faster than sunbeams and drive the shadows back over the dark and
scowling hills. That’s how fast swift-winged doves carry the goddess of Love
in her chariot, and why Cupid has wings that propel him as quickly as the wind.
Now the sun is at its highest point in the sky—it’s noon. Three hours have
passed since nine o’clock, and yet she hasn’t returned. If she was young and
in love, she’d move as fast as a struck tennis ball. My words would bounce
her to my sweet love, and his words would bounce her back to me. But old
folks act as though they’re dead—awkward, slow, heavy, and pale as lead.
Enter NURSE and PETER
The NURSE and PETER enter.
O God, she comes.—O honey Nurse, what news?
Hast thou met with him? Send thy man away.
Oh God, she’s here! Sweet Nurse, what’s your news? Did
you meet with him? Send your servant away.
Peter, stay at the gate.
Peter, go back and wait at the gate.
Now, good sweet Nurse— O Lord, why look’st thou sad?
Though news be sad, yet tell them merrily.
If good, thou shamest the music of sweet news
By playing it to me with so sour a face.
Now, good sweet Nurse—Oh Lord, why do you look so sad?
If your news is sad, tell it to me as if it’s happy. If it’s good, you’re
messing it up by telling it to me with such a sour face like that.
I am aweary. Give me leave awhile.
Fie, how my bones ache! What a jaunt have I!
I’m weary. Give me some time alone. Oh, my bones are
aching! What a journey this has been today.
I would thou hadst my bones and I thy news.
Nay, come, I pray thee, speak. Good, good Nurse, speak.
I wish you had my bones, and I had your news. I beg
you, speak, good Nurse, speak.
Jesu, what haste! Can you not stay awhile?
Do you not see that I am out of breath?
Jesus, what a rush! Can’t you wait for awhile? Don’t
you see that I’m out of breath?
* * * * *
How art thou out of breath when thou hast breath
To say to me that thou art out of breath?
The excuse that thou dost make in this delay
Is longer than the tale thou dost excuse.
Is thy news good, or bad? Answer to that.
Say either, and I’ll stay the circumstance.
Let me be satisfied. Is ’t good or bad?
How are you out of breath when you have the breath to
tell me that you’re out of breath? The excuse you’re making while delaying
telling me what you know is taking longer than it would to tell me your tale.
Is your news good or bad? Answer that. Tell me that, and I’ll wait for the
details. Tell me at least that. Is it good or bad?
* * *
40 * * * *
Well, you have made a simple choice. You know not how to
choose a man. Romeo! No, not he, though his face be better than any man’s,
yet his leg excels all men’s, and for a hand and a foot and a body, though
they be not to be talked on, yet they are past compare. He is not the flower
of courtesy, but, I’ll warrant him, as gentle as a lamb. Go thy ways, wench.
Serve God. What, have you dined at home?
Well, you have made an unwise choice. You don’t know
how to choose a man. Romeo? No, not him, even though his face is more
handsome than any other man’s, his legs are prettier. His hands and feet and
body aren’t much to speak of, and yet they’re beyond compare. He isn’t the
most courteous man, but, I’d swear that he’s as gentle as a lamb. So do what
you want, girl. Be good. Hey, have you already eaten lunch?
No, no. But all this did I know before.
What says he of our marriage? What of that?
No, no. I already knew everything you just said. What
did he say about our marriage? What about that?
* * *
Lord, how my head aches! What a head have I!
It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces.
My back a’ t’ other side. Ah, my back, my back!
Beshrew your heart for sending me about,
To catch my death with jaunting up and down!
Lord, I have such a headache! It’s pounding as if it’s
about to break into twenty pieces. And on my other side my back is aching—ah,
my back! Curse your heart for sending me out and about. I could get sick and
die from all this journeying around.
I’ faith, I am sorry that thou art not well.
Sweet, sweet, sweet Nurse, tell me, what says my love?
I swear, I’m sorry you’re in pain. Sweet, sweet, sweet
Nurse, tell me, what says my love?
Your love says, like an honest gentleman, and a courteous,
and a kind, and a handsome, and, I warrant, a virtuous— Where is your mother?
Your love says, like an honorable, courteous, kind,
handsome, and, I believe, virtuous gentleman — where is your mother?
* * *
Where is my mother? Why, she is within.
Where should she be? How oddly thou repliest!
“Your love says, like an honest gentleman,
‘Where is your mother?’”
Where’s my mother? Why, she’s inside. Where else would
she be? What a strange answer! “Your love says, like an honorable gentleman,
‘Where is your mother?’”
O God’s lady dear,
Are you so hot? Marry, come up, I trow.
Is this the poultice for my aching bones?
Henceforward do your messages yourself.
Mary, mother of God! Are you in such a hurry? Indeed,
you need to calm down. Is this the way to soothe my aching bones? From here
on out, carry your own messages.
Here’s such a coil. Come, what says Romeo?
What a fuss you’re making. Please, what did Romeo say?
Have you got leave to go to shrift today?
Do you have permission to go to confession today?
* * *
70 * * * *
Then hie you hence to Friar Lawrence’s cell.
There stays a husband to make you a wife.
Now comes the wanton blood up in your cheeks.
They’ll be in scarlet straight at any news.
Hie you to church. I must another way
To fetch a ladder, by the which your love
Must climb a bird’s nest soon when it is dark.
I am the drudge and toil in your delight,
But you shall bear the burden soon at night.
Go. I’ll to dinner. Hie you to the cell.
Then hurry up and go to Friar Lawrence’s cell. There
waits a husband to make you his wife. Now the lustful blood is rushing up to
your cheeks. You blush scarlet whenever you get excited at some news. Get to
church. I must go elsewhere to get a rope ladder that your love will use to
climb up to your window when it’s dark. I do the drudge work for your
pleasure. But soon, tonight, you’ll be doing your “wifely work” with Romeo.
Go. I’ll go to lunch. You go to Friar Lawrence’s cell.
Hie to high fortune! Honest Nurse, farewell.
I go to claim my luck. Loyal Nurse, farewell.