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Act 5, Scene 1


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Original Play

Modern Translation

 

Enter ROMEO

ROMEO enters.  

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ROMEO
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!

ROMEO
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.  

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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.

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BALTHASAR
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.

BALTHASAR
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.

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ROMEO
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.

ROMEO
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.





 

BALTHASAR
I do beseech you, sir, have patience.
Your looks are pale and wild, and do import
Some misadventure.

BALTHASAR
I beg you, sir, have patience. You look pale and wild, as if you’re about to do something reckless.

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ROMEO
Tush, thou art deceived.
Leave me and do the thing I bid thee do.
Hast thou no letters to me from the friar?

ROMEO
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?

 

BALTHASAR
No, my good lord.

BALTHASAR
No, my good lord.

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ROMEO
No matter. Get thee gone,
And hire those horses. I’ll be with thee straight.

ROMEO
No matter. Get going and hire those horses. I’ll be with you soon.

 

Exit BALTHASAR

BALTHASAR exits  

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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!

 

Enter APOTHECARY

The APOTHECARY enters.  

 

APOTHECARY
               Who calls so loud?

APOTHECARY
Who’s that calling so loudly?

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ROMEO
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.

ROMEO
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.




 

APOTHECARY
Such mortal drugs I have, but Mantua’s law
Is death to any he that utters them.

APOTHECARY
I have such deadly poisons. But it’s the death-penalty to sell them in Mantua.

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ROMEO
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)

ROMEO
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)

 

APOTHECARY
My poverty, but not my will, consents.

APOTHECARY
It is my poverty, not my morals, that forces me to agree.

 

ROMEO
I pay thy poverty and not thy will.

ROMEO
I pay your poverty, not your morals.

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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.

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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.

 

Exeunt

They exit.  

 

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