Romeo and Juliet
Please see the bottom of the page for explanatory notes.
|ACT II SCENE III ||Friar Laurence's cell.|| |
|[Enter FRIAR LAURENCE, with a basket]|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||The grey-eyed morn smiles on the frowning night,|
|Chequering the eastern clouds with streaks of light,|
|And flecked darkness like a drunkard reels|
|From forth day's path and Titan's fiery wheels:|
|Now, ere the sun advance his burning eye,|
|The day to cheer and night's dank dew to dry,|
|I must up-fill this osier cage of ours|
|With baleful weeds and precious-juiced flowers.|
|The earth that's nature's mother is her tomb;|
|What is her burying grave that is her womb,||10|
|And from her womb children of divers kind|
|We sucking on her natural bosom find,|
|Many for many virtues excellent,|
|None but for some and yet all different.|
|O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies|
|In herbs, plants, stones, and their true qualities:|
|For nought so vile that on the earth doth live|
|But to the earth some special good doth give,|
|Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use|
|Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse:||20|
|Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied;|
|And vice sometimes by action dignified.|
|Within the infant rind of this small flower|
|Poison hath residence and medicine power:|
|For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part;|
|Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart.|
|Two such opposed kings encamp them still|
|In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will;|
|And where the worser is predominant,|
|Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.||30|
|ROMEO||Good morrow, father.|
|What early tongue so sweet saluteth me?|
|Young son, it argues a distemper'd head|
|So soon to bid good morrow to thy bed:|
|Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye,|
|And where care lodges, sleep will never lie;|
|But where unbruised youth with unstuff'd brain|
|Doth couch his limbs, there golden sleep doth reign:|
|Therefore thy earliness doth me assure|
|Thou art up-roused by some distemperature;||40|
|Or if not so, then here I hit it right,|
|Our Romeo hath not been in bed to-night.|
|ROMEO||That last is true; the sweeter rest was mine.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||God pardon sin! wast thou with Rosaline?|
|ROMEO||With Rosaline, my ghostly father? no;|
|I have forgot that name, and that name's woe.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||That's my good son: but where hast thou been, then?|
|ROMEO||I'll tell thee, ere thou ask it me again.|
|I have been feasting with mine enemy,|
|Where on a sudden one hath wounded me,||50|
|That's by me wounded: both our remedies|
|Within thy help and holy physic lies:|
|I bear no hatred, blessed man, for, lo,|
|My intercession likewise steads my foe.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||Be plain, good son, and homely in thy drift;|
|Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift.|
|ROMEO||Then plainly know my heart's dear love is set|
|On the fair daughter of rich Capulet:|
|As mine on hers, so hers is set on mine;|
|And all combined, save what thou must combine||60|
|By holy marriage: when and where and how|
|We met, we woo'd and made exchange of vow,|
|I'll tell thee as we pass; but this I pray,|
|That thou consent to marry us to-day.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||Holy Saint Francis, what a change is here!|
|Is Rosaline, whom thou didst love so dear,|
|So soon forsaken? young men's love then lies|
|Not truly in their hearts, but in their eyes.|
|Jesu Maria, what a deal of brine|
|Hath wash'd thy sallow cheeks for Rosaline!||70|
|How much salt water thrown away in waste,|
|To season love, that of it doth not taste!|
|The sun not yet thy sighs from heaven clears,|
|Thy old groans ring yet in my ancient ears;|
|Lo, here upon thy cheek the stain doth sit|
|Of an old tear that is not wash'd off yet:|
|If e'er thou wast thyself and these woes thine,|
|Thou and these woes were all for Rosaline:|
|And art thou changed? pronounce this sentence then,|
|Women may fall, when there's no strength in men.||80|
|ROMEO||Thou chid'st me oft for loving Rosaline.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||For doting, not for loving, pupil mine.|
|ROMEO||And bad'st me bury love.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||Not in a grave,|
|To lay one in, another out to have.|
|ROMEO||I pray thee, chide not; she whom I love now|
|Doth grace for grace and love for love allow;|
|The other did not so.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||O, she knew well|
|Thy love did read by rote and could not spell.|
|But come, young waverer, come, go with me,|
|In one respect I'll thy assistant be;||90|
|For this alliance may so happy prove,|
|To turn your households' rancour to pure love.|
|ROMEO||O, let us hence; I stand on sudden haste.|
|FRIAR LAURENCE||Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast.|
Next: Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 4
Explanatory Notes for Act 2, Scene 3
From Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan.
*Line numbers have been adjusted.
1. grey-eyed, of a pale blue not yet tinted with the coloured rays of the sun.
2. Chequering, interlacing, variegating; a 'chequer' was originally a chess-board, a board divided into squares coloured
alternately dark and light, then, among various other senses, an alternation of colours. Cp. M. A. v. 3. 27, "the gentle day,
Before the wheels of Phoebus, round about, Dapples the drowsy east with spots of grey;" where "grey" is used as in l. 1, above.
3. flecked, spotted, streaked.
4. From forth ... wheels, out of the path about to be taken by the sun's bright wheels: Titan, the original Titans dwelt in
heaven, from which, after a contest, they were hurled by Zeus beneath Tartarus; among their descendants were Helios (the sun)
and Selene (the moon); the fiery wheels are those of the chariot which Helios drove round the world each twenty-four hours.
6. dank, moist, damp; according to Skeat, probably a nasalized form of the provincial English dag, dew.
7. osier cage, basket made of withes; the osier is the water-willow: of ours, belonging to our monastery.
8. baleful, poisonous, harmful, i.e. if not properly used, but
containing valuable medicinal properties.
9, 10. The earth ... womb, that is the mother of all nature, is
also the tomb of all nature; and, conversely, that in which all
things are buried, is that from which all things spring.
11. from her womb, sprung from her.
12. We sucking ... find, we find drawing their nourishment
from the bosom of their natural mother.
13. virtues, useful properties.
15. mickle ... grace, abundant and mighty is the excellence;
mickle, like much, from the A.S. mycal, great, and connected
16. stones, minerals: their true qualities, their properties when
turned to their right use.
19, 20. Nor aught ... abuse, nor anything so good that, if
diverted from its proper use, does not forswear its original nature
and, by the accident of being thus diverted, become harmful; in
stumbling the meaning is that its original tendency was good,
but that something coming in its way caused it to stagger from
22. And vice ... dignified, and vice sometimes a worthiness by
the way in which it works, by the good result it effects, though
its intention was evil.
23. infant, as yet undeveloped: for small, the reading of the
first quarto, the other copies give weak, which Daniel prefers as
marking the contrast with power in the next line.
24. medicine power, medicinal power.
25, 6. For this, ...heart, for this, if smelled, by the property of
its odour cheers the frame through every part, whereas, if
tasted, it destroys the heart and with it all the senses. It seems
better, with Delius, to take that part to mean 'the odour,' than
with Malone, to understand it as 'the part that smells, the
olfactory nerves.' For slays, the second quarto gives the tempting reading stays, i.e. brings to a standstill, which Mommsen
adopts; in H. V. ii. 1. 92, 3, we have the expression "The King has killed his heart," but there it is a metaphor and is put into
the mouth of the Hostess.
27. encamp them still, ever pitch their camp.
28. rude will, brutal obstinacy, perverseness.
30. the canker, the worm that preys upon blossoms; Lat.
cancer, a crab. Hunter remarks, "The beautiful lines given to
the Friar are introduced for the sake of repose; but in the choice
of the topic in these seven [eight] lines [i.e. 11. 23-30] the Poet
seems to have had a further view. Poison is hereafter to become
a main agent in the piece, and the Poet prepares the audience
for the use of poison by familiarizing them, in the early portion
of the play, with the idea, and thus preparing them to witness
the use of it without being so much shocked as they would be
were no such preparation made."
31. Benedicite, an ecclesiastical salutation at meeting or parting; literally 'bless, praise,' sc. God.
32. What early ... me? what voice so early greets me so
34. to bid good morrow to, i.e. to leave; literally to salute
with the words 'good morning,' i.e. with words used after one has
35. keeps his watch, is ever wakeful, ever present and on the
37. unbruised youth, youth that has not yet known the
wounds of time and trouble: unstuff'd brain, brain free from
38. golden sleep, calm and invigorating sleep.
40. distemperature, uneasiness of mind, mental disorder; cp.
Per. v. 1. 27, "Upon what ground is his distemperature?"
43. the sweeter ... mine, all the sweeter was the rest I enjoyed.
46. that name's woe, the sorrow that name used to cause me,
sc. by Rosaline's unkindness to his suit.
47. That's my good son, well done, my son; I am glad to hear
that, my son; an exclamation of approval very common in Shakespeare, e.g. Temp. i. 2. 215, "Why, that's my spirit!" Cor. v.
3. 76, "That's my brave boy."
51, 2. both our ... lies, the remedy for the disease of both of us
lies in your hands; lies, a confusion of proximity due to the
singular nouns help and physic coming between the nominative
and the verb; and perhaps in part, as Delius says, because
both our remedies is in reality a singular — the remedy of
both of us.
53. no hatred, i.e. towards her whom I have called "mine
54. My intercession ... foe, the intercession I make with you
on my own behalf is one which will benefit my foe also.
56. Riddling ... shrift, if your confession is made in riddles, the
absolution you will receive from me will be equally ambiguous;
for shrift, see note on l. 1. 165, above.
60. And all combined, and the union between us is complete.
63. as we pass, as we walk along.
65. Saint Francis, the patron saint of his Order, the Franciscan.
69. Jesu Maria, Jesus, son of the Virgin Mary; Jesu, the
69, 70. what a deal ... Rosaline, what floods of salt tears have
coursed down your cheeks on Rosaline's account, and made them
pale; sallow, used proleptically.
72. To season ... taste, to give freshness and relish to that love
which now no longer has any taste of such seasoning, which now
has lost all relish to your palate; cp. T. N. i. 1. 30, "she will
veiled walk And water once a day her chamber round With eye offending brine; all this to season A brother's dead love, which
she would keep fresh And lasting in her sad remembrance."
Daniel conjectures 'that of itself doth taste.'
73. The sun ... clears, the sun has not yet cleared away the
vapours caused by your thick sighs for Rosaline; cp. Romeo's
words above, "Love is a smoke raised with the fume
77, 8. If e'er ... Rosaline, if ever you were really yourself, not
a counterfeit, and if these woes you pretended to feel were
genuine, then they and you alike belonged to Rosaline and no
80. Women ... men, when men show themselves such weak
creatures, there is nothing wonderful in women being frail.
82. doting, loving to excess, foolishly.
83, 4. Not in a grave ... have, I did not bid you bury love in a
grave only in order that as soon as you had buried one you should
86. Doth grace ... allow, meets kindness with kindness, love
87, 8. she knew ... spell, her refusal to give love in return was
only because she knew that your love was but a parrot-like
acquaintance with such love.
90. In one respect, in consideration of one point.
92. To turn, as to turn.
93. I stand ... haste, it is imperative upon me to make great
haste, I depend, for success, upon losing no time; see Abb. § 204.
94. Wisely ... fast, an adaptation of the Latin saying, Festina
How to cite the explanatory notes:
Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Ed. K. Deighton. London: Macmillan, 1916. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_2_3.html >.
How to cite the sidebar:
Mabillard, Amanda. Notes on Shakespeare. Shakespeare Online. 20 Dec. 2013. < http://www.shakespeare-online.com/plays/romeo_2_3.html >.
Daily Life in Shakespeare's London
Life in Stratford (structures and guilds)
Life in Stratford (trades, laws, furniture, hygiene)
Stratford School Days: What Did Shakespeare Read?
Games in Shakespeare's England [A-L]
Games in Shakespeare's England [M-Z]
An Elizabethan Christmas
Clothing in Elizabethan England
Queen Elizabeth: Shakespeare's Patron
King James I of England: Shakespeare's Patron
The Earl of Southampton: Shakespeare's Patron
Going to a Play in Elizabethan London
Ben Jonson and the Decline of the Drama
Publishing in Elizabethan England
Religion in Shakespeare's England
Alchemy and Astrology in Shakespeare's Day
Entertainment in Elizabethan England
London's First Public Playhouse
Shakespeare Hits the Big Time
What's Happening Romeo travels to the cell of Friar Laurence, who has been out in the fields all morning gathering herbs. He ponders the dual nature of these "baleful weeds and precious juiced flowers" that have the power to kill and the power to heal. Cheerful and excited, Romeo greets the Friar and tells him of his new love and plans for marriage. Friar Laurence, who has been Romeo's friend and confessor for sometime, is confused and concerned about Romeo's sudden change of heart. Read on...
More to Explore
Romeo and Juliet: Complete Play with Explanatory Notes
Themes and Motifs in Romeo and Juliet
Stage History of Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet: Examination Questions and Answers
Queen Mab in Plain English
Romeo, Rosaline, and Juliet
The Importance of Romeo and Rosaline
Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 1 and 2)
Romeo and Juliet Plot Summary (Acts 3, 4 and 5)
Romeo and Juliet and the Rules of Dramatic Tragedy
Romeo and Juliet: Teacher's Notes and Classroom Discussion
What Is Accomplished in Act I?
The Purpose of Romeo's witticisms in 2.1.
Friar Laurence's First Soliloquy
The Dramatic Function of Mercutio's Queen Mab Speech
Thoughts on Friar Laurence "He has been Romeo's spiritual adviser from early youth, his confidant in regard to Rosaline, and his aid is now sought to solve the difficulty of marriage with Juliet. A good old man who in his youth has known stormy passions and the stress of life, he has sought in religion and retirement the comfort he could not elsewhere find; his great delight is to alleviate suffering of whatever kind, and above all to promote peace among his fellow-creatures. In the matter, however, before us, his pursuit of this goodly task masters his sounder judgment, and with too ready compliance he assents to Romeo's request. He in fact does evil that good may come — and with the usual result of such temporizing." K. Deighton. Read on...
Mercutio's Death and its Role in the Play
Costume Design for a Production of Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare's Treatment of Love
Shakespeare on Fate
Sources for Romeo and Juliet
The Five Stages of Plot Development in Romeo and Juliet
Annotated Balcony Scene, Act 2
Blank Verse and Rhyme in Romeo and Juliet
How to Pronounce the Names in Romeo and Juliet
Introduction to Juliet
Introduction to Romeo
Introduction to Mercutio
Introduction to The Nurse
Introduction to The Montagues and the Capulets
Famous Quotations from Romeo and Juliet
Why Shakespeare is so Important
Shakespeare's Boss: The Master of Revels
What is Tragic Irony?
Seneca's Tragedies and the Elizabethan Drama
Characteristics of Elizabethan Drama
Notes on Shakespeare...
The Clowns (also known as the Grave-diggers) in Hamlet express the sentiment of the common people that Ophelia has committed suicide, although the audience has only Gertrude's poetic account of the drowning, which she says was accidental. Later in this scene we see that the Priest also doubts Ophelia's death was an accident. Read on...
Shakespeare acquired substantial wealth thanks to his acting and writing abilities, and his shares in London theatres. The going rate was £10 per play at the turn of the sixteenth century. So how much money did Shakespeare make? Read on...
We have a Roman scholar named Boethius to thank for the medieval and Renaissance fixation on fate and "fortune's wheel." Queen Elizabeth herself translated his hugely popular discourse on fate's role in the Universe, The Consolation of Philosophy. Although the idea of the wheel of fortune existed before Boethius, his work was the source on the subject for Chaucer, Dante, Machiavelli, and of course, Shakespeare. Read on...
It is little surprise that the plague was the most dreaded disease of Shakespeare's time. Carried by fleas living on the fur of rats, the plague swept through London in 1563, 1578-9, 1582, 1592-3, and 1603 (Singman, 52). The outbreaks in 1563 and 1603 were the most ferocious, each wiping out over one quarter of London's population. Read on...
Shakespeare was familiar with seven foreign languages and often quoted them directly in his plays. His vocabulary was the largest of any writer, at over twenty-four thousand words. Read on...