Romeo and Juliet


Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six

other maskers, and torchbearers


What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?

Or shall we on without apology?


The date is out of such prolixity.
date (n.) 2 time, season, fashion
out (adv.) 10 out-of-date, not in vogue [for]
prolixity (n.) long-windedness, tedious exposition

We'll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,
hoodwink (v.) 1 blindfold, cover one's eyes

Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath,
lath (n.) 1 thin wood

Scaring the ladies like a crowkeeper;
crowkeeper, crow-keeper (n.) scarecrow, farmer's boy, person who keeps crows away

Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
faintly (adv.) 3 weakly, feebly, faintheartedly

After the prompter, for our entrance.

But, let them measure us by what they will,

We'll measure them a measure and be gone.
measure (n.) 8 slow stately dance, graceful movement
measure (v.) 2 apportion, dispense, give out


Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.
ambling (n.) affected way of walking, tripping along

Being but heavy, I will bear the light.
heavy (adj.) 1 sorrowful, sad, gloomy See Topics: Frequency count


Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
gentle (adj.) 1 well-born, honourable, noble See Topics: Frequency count


Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes

With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead

So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.


You are a lover. Borrow Cupid's wings

And soar with them above a common bound.


I am too sore empierced with his shaft
empierce (v.) pierce through, transfix, impale
shaft (n.) [long and slender] arrow
sore (adv.) 1 seriously, greatly, very much

To soar with his light feathers; and so bound

I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
dull (adj.) 3 gloomy, melancholic, sullen
pitch (n.) 1 height [to which a bird of prey soars before swooping]

Under love's heavy burden do I sink.


And, to sink in it, should you burden love –

Too great oppression for a tender thing.


Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,

Too rude, too boisterous, and it pricks like thorn.
boisterous (adj.) 4 painful, hurtful, rough on the feelings


If love be rough with you, be rough with love.

Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
prick (v.) 4 torment, vex, grieve

Give me a case to put my visage in.
case (n.) 8 mask, disguise, covering
visage (n.) 1 face, countenance See Topics: Frequency count

A visor for a visor! What care I

What curious eye doth quote deformities?
curious (adj.) 4 careful, fastidious, attentive
quote (v.) 1 closely observe, note, examine

Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.
beetle (adj.) overhanging, prominent, bushy
brow (n.) 3 eyebrow


Come, knock and enter; and no sooner in

But every man betake him to his legs.
betake (v.) 2 resort, have recourse, commit oneself


A torch for me! Let wantons light of heart
wanton (n.) 1 libertine, seducer

Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels.
senseless (adj.) 1 lacking human sensation, incapable of feeling

For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase –
grandsire (adj.) long-established, old-fashioned
proverb (v.) provide with worldly wisdom [by]

I'll be a candle-holder and look on;

The game was ne'er so fair, and I am done.


Tut, dun's the mouse, the constable's own word!
dun's the mouse [proverbial] keep quiet, be still

If thou art Dun, we'll draw thee from the mire
Dun (n.) horse's name [involving the lifting of a log ‘horse’ in a Christmas game called ‘drawing dun out of the mire’]

Of – save your reverence – love, wherein thou stickest
sir-reverence (n.) save your reverence See Topics: Politeness

Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!
burn (v.) 4 waste, fritter away


Nay, that's not so.


                         I mean, sir, in delay

We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.

Take our good meaning, for our judgement sits
good (adj.) 8 intended, right, proper

Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
wits, also five wits faculties of the mind (common wit, imagination, fantasy, estimation, memory) or body (the five senses)


And we mean well in going to this masque,

But 'tis no wit to go.
wit (n.) 1 intelligence, wisdom, good sense, mental ability See Topics: Frequency count


                         Why, may one ask?


I dreamt a dream tonight.
tonight (adv.) last night, this past night


                         And so did I.


Well, what was yours?


                         That dreamers often lie.


In bed asleep, while they do dream things true.


O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.

She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes

In shape no bigger than an agate stone

On the forefinger of an alderman,

Drawn with a team of little atomies
atomy (n.) 2 mite, tiny being

Over men's noses as they lie asleep.

Her chariot is an empty hazelnut

Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,

Time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers.

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs;
spinner (n.) spider, cranefly, daddy-longlegs

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;

Her traces, of the smallest spider web;

Her collars, of the moonshine's watery beams;

Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film;
film (n.) gossamer, fine thread

Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,
waggoner, wagoner (n.) driver, charioteer

Not half so big as a round little worm

Pricked from the lazy finger of a maid.

And in this state she gallops night by night
state (n.) 4 splendour, magnificence, stateliness, dignity

Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;

O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
courtesy, cur'sy, curtsy (n.) 2 curtsy, bow, gesture of respect
straight (adv.) straightaway, immediately, at once See Topics: Frequency count

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees;

O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream,

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,
oft (adv.) often See Topics: Frequency count

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
suit (n.) 1 formal request, entreaty, petition See Topics: Frequency count

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.

And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail
tithe-pig (n.) pig given as part of a tithe

Tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep;

Then he dreams of another benefice.
benefice (n.) ecclesiastical living, church appointment

Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck;

And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches, ambuscados, Spanish blades,
ambuscado (n.) ambush, ambuscade

Of healths five fathom deep; and then anon
anon (adv.) 1 soon, shortly, presently See Topics: Frequency count
health (n.) 1 toast, salutation in drink

Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes,
start (v.) 1 jump, recoil, flinch

And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
fright (v.), past form frighted frighten, scare, terrify See Topics: Frequency count

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab

That plaits the manes of horses in the night

And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs,
bake (v.) harden, make solid
elf-lock (n.) hair treated by elves; matted locks

Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.

This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
hag (n.) 2 malicious sprite, wicked fairy

That presses them and learns them first to bear,
learn (v.) 1 teach, instruct [not a regional dialect usage as in modern English]

Making them women of good carriage.

This is she –


                         Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!

Thou talkest of nothing.


                         True. I talk of dreams;

Which are the children of an idle brain,
idle (adj.) 4 foolish, superstitious, fanciful

Begot of nothing but vain fantasy;
beget (v.), past form begot 2 produce, engender, give rise to

Which is as thin of substance as the air,

And more inconstant than the wind, who woos

Even now the frozen bosom of the North,

And, being angered, puffs away from thence,

Turning his side to the dew-dropping South.


This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves.

Supper is done, and we shall come too late.


I fear, too early. For my mind misgives
misgive (v.) 3 be uneasy about, feel apprehension about

Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars,

Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
date (n.) 1 duration, period of existence
fearful (adj.) 1 timid, timorous, frightened, full of fear

With this night's revels and expire the term
expire (v.) end, conclude, terminate

Of a despised life, closed in my breast,

By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
untimely (adv.) 1 prematurely, too soon, before due time

But He that hath the steerage of my course

Direct my sail! On, lusty gentlemen!
lusty (adj.) 2 merry, cheerful, lively


Strike, drum.

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