If I may trust the flattering truth of sleep,
My dreams presage some joyful news at hand.
My bosom’s lord sits lightly in his throne,
And all this day an unaccustomed spirit
Lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts.
I dreamt my lady came and found me dead—
Strange dream, that gives a dead man leave to think—
And breathed such life with kisses in my lips
That I revived and was an emperor.
Ah me! How sweet is love itself possessed
When but love’s shadows are so rich in joy!
If I can trust the favorable truth of sleep, then my
dreams foretell some joyful news is on its way. Love sits lightly in my
heart, and all day an odd feeling has seemed to lift me up with cheerful
thoughts. I had a dream that my lady came and found me dead—what a strange
dream to allow a dead man to think—and breathed life back into me by kissing
my lips. I revived and became an emperor. Oh! How sweet it would be to be with
my love, when just my dreams of love fill me with so much joy.
Enter ROMEO’s man BALTHASAR
ROMEO’s servant BALTHASAR enters.
* * *
News from Verona!—How now, Balthasar?
Dost thou not bring me letters from the friar?
How doth my lady? Is my father well?
How fares my Juliet? That I ask again,
For nothing can be ill if she be well.
News from Verona!—What is it, Balthasar? Have you
brought me a letter from the friar? How is my wife? Is my father well? How is
my Juliet? I ask that again because nothing can be bad if she is well.
* * * *
Then she is well, and nothing can be ill.
Her body sleeps in Capels’ monument,
And her immortal part with angels lives.
I saw her laid low in her kindred’s vault
And presently took post to tell it you.
O, pardon me for bringing these ill news,
Since you did leave it for my office, sir.
Then she is well, and nothing is bad. Her body sleeps
in the Capulet crypt, and her immortal soul lives with the angels. I saw her
buried in her family’s tomb, and rushed here to tell you the news. Oh, pardon
me for bringing this bad news, but you told me it was my duty to do so, sir.
Is it e’en so? Then I defy you, stars!
Thou know’st my lodging. Get me ink and paper,
And hire post horses. I will hence tonight.
Is it true? Then I defy you, fate! (to
BALTHASAR) You know where I’m staying. Go there and get me some ink
and paper, and hire some horses. I will leave here tonight.
I do beseech you, sir, have patience.
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
I beg you, sir, have patience. You look pale and wild,
as if you’re about to do something reckless.
Tush, thou art deceived.
Leave me and do the thing I bid thee do.
Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?
Come now, you’re being silly. Leave me and do what I
told you to do. Do you really not have a letter for me from the friar?
No, my good lord.
No, my good lord.
No matter. Get thee gone,
And hire those horses. I’ll be with thee straight.
No matter. Get going and hire those horses. I’ll be
with you soon.
* * * *
40 * * * *
45 * * * *
50 * * * *
Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight.
Let’s see for means. O mischief, thou art swift
To enter in the thoughts of desperate men!
I do remember an apothecary—
And hereabouts he dwells—which late I noted
In tattered weeds, with overwhelming brows,
Culling of simples. Meager were his looks,
Sharp misery had worn him to the bones,
And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
An alligator stuffed, and other skins
Of ill-shaped fishes; and about his shelves
A beggarly account of empty boxes,
Green earthen pots, bladders and musty seeds,
Remnants of packthread and old cakes of roses,
Were thinly scattered to make up a show.
Noting this penury, to myself I said,
“An if a man did need a poison now”—
Whose sale is present death in Mantua—
“Here lives a caitiff wretch would sell it him.”
Oh, this same thought did but forerun my need,
And this same needy man must sell it me.
As I remember, this should be the house.
Being holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut.
What, ho! Apothecary!
Well, Juliet, I’ll lie with you tonight. Let me think
how. Evil acts are quick to enter the thoughts of desperate men! I remember a
pharmacist who lives around here and who I recently noted wears tattered
clothes and has jutting brows, and who knows his medicinal herbs. He looks
poor, as if misery had worn him to the bone. A tortoise shell hung in his shabby
shop, along with a stuffed alligator and the skins of odd-shaped fish. A few
empty boxes sat on his shelves, as well as green clay pots, empty water
skins, and some musty seeds. Old strands of string and rose petals pressed
into cakes were scattered about on display. Seeing his poverty, I said to
myself, “If a man needed some poison”—which to sell in Mantua is punishable
by immediate death—“here is a miserable wretch who’d sell it to him.” Oh,
this idea came before I even knew I needed the poison. But this is the poor
man who will sell it to me. As I remember, this is the house. Since today’s a
holiday, the beggar’s shop is shut. Hey! Pharmacist!
The APOTHECARY enters.
Who calls so loud?
Who’s that calling so loudly?
60 * * * *
Come hither, man. I see that thou art poor.
Hold, there is forty ducats. Let me have
A dram of poison, such soon-speeding gear
As will disperse itself through all the veins
That the life-weary taker may fall dead,
And that the trunk may be discharged of breath
As violently as hasty powder fired
Doth hurry from the fatal cannon’s womb.
Come here, man. I see that you are poor. Here’s forty
ducats. Let me have a bit of poison, something that spreads so fast through
the veins that the tired-out person who takes it will lose the breath of life
as quickly as gunpowder explodes from the inside of canon.
Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law
Is death to any he that utters them.
I have such deadly poisons. But it’s the death-penalty
to sell them in Mantua.
70 * * * *
Art thou so bare and full of wretchedness,
And fear’st to die? Famine is in thy cheeks.
Need and oppression starveth in thine eyes.
Contempt and beggary hangs upon thy back.
The world is not thy friend nor the world’s law.
The world affords no law to make thee rich.
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this. (holds out money)
How can you be so poor and wretched and still be afraid
to die? Your cheeks are thin from hunger. Starvation and oppression are
visible in your eyes. Your poverty, and the contempt of others for your
situation, is like a monkey on your back. The world is not your friend, and
neither are the world’s laws. The world doesn’t provide a law that will make
you rich. So don’t be poor. Break the law, and take this money. (he holds out money)
My poverty, but not my will, consents.
It is my poverty, not my morals, that forces me to
I pay thy poverty and not thy will.
I pay your poverty, not your morals.
APOTHECARY (gives ROMEO poison)
Put this in any liquid thing you will
And drink it off; and, if you had the strength
Of twenty men, it would dispatch you straight.
APOTHECARY (gives ROMEO poison) Put this in any kind of liquid you want and drink
it. Even if you had the strength of twenty men, it would kill you quickly.
* * *
85 * * * *
ROMEO (gives APOTHECARY money)
There is thy gold, worse poison to men’s souls,
Doing more murder in this loathsome world,
Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.
I sell thee poison. Thou hast sold me none.
Farewell. Buy food, and get thyself in flesh.—
Come, cordial and not poison, go with me
To Juliet’s grave, for there must I use thee.
ROMEO (gives APOTHECARY money) There is your gold, which is a worse poison to
men’s souls, and commits more murders in this terrible world, than these poor
mixtures that you’re forbidden to sell. I’ve sold you
poison; you haven’t sold me any. Goodbye. Get some food, and put some flesh
on your bones. Come with me, medicine, which is no poison. We go to Juliet’s
grave, where I will use you.