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Romeo and Juliet - Act 1, scene 4
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Last updated: Fri, Jul 31, 2015
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Navigate this workRomeo and Juliet - Act 1, scene 4
Act 1, scene 4
Romeo and Benvolio approach the Capulets’ party with their friend Mercutio and others, wearing the disguises customarily donned by “maskers.” Romeo is anxious because of an ominous dream. Mercutio mocks him with a speech about a dream-giving queen of fairies.Enter Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, with five or six other
Maskers, Torchbearers, ⌜and a Boy with a drum.⌝
0483 What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
0484 Or shall we on without apology?
0485 The date is out of such prolixity.
p. 430486 We’ll have no Cupid hoodwinked with a scarf,
0487 5 Bearing a Tartar’s painted bow of lath,
0488 Scaring the ladies like a crowkeeper,
0489 ⌜Nor no without-book prologue, faintly spoke
0490 After the prompter, for our entrance.⌝
0491 But let them measure us by what they will.
0492 10 We’ll measure them a measure and be gone.
0493 Give me a torch. I am not for this ambling.
0494 Being but heavy I will bear the light.
0495 Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
0496 Not I, believe me. You have dancing shoes
0497 15 With nimble soles. I have a soul of lead
0498 So stakes me to the ground I cannot move.
0499 You are a lover. Borrow Cupid’s wings
0500 And soar with them above a common bound.
0501 I am too sore enpiercèd with his shaft
0502 20 To soar with his light feathers, and so bound
0503 I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.
0504 Under love’s heavy burden do I sink.
0505 And to sink in it should you burden love—
0506 Too great oppression for a tender thing.
0507 25 Is love a tender thing? It is too rough,
0508 Too rude, too boist’rous, and it pricks like thorn.
0509 If love be rough with you, be rough with love.
0510 Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.—
0511 Give me a case to put my visage in.—
0512 30 A visor for a visor. What care I
0513 What curious eye doth cote deformities?
0514 Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.
0515 Come, knock and enter, and no sooner in
0516 But every man betake him to his legs.
0517 35 A torch for me. Let wantons light of heart
0518 Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels,
0519 For I am proverbed with a grandsire phrase:
0520 I’ll be a candle holder and look on;
0521 The game was ne’er so fair, and I am ⌜done.⌝
0522 40 Tut, dun’s the mouse, the constable’s own word.
0523 If thou art dun, we’ll draw thee from the mire—
0524 Or, save ⌜your⌝ reverence, love—wherein thou
0526 Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!
0527 45 Nay, that’s not so.
MERCUTIO 0528 I mean, sir, in delay
0529 We waste our lights; in vain, ⌜light⌝ lights by day.
0530 Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
0531 Five times in that ere once in our ⌜five⌝ wits.
0532 50 And we mean well in going to this masque,
0533 But ’tis no wit to go.
MERCUTIO 0534 Why, may one ask?
0535 I dreamt a dream tonight.
MERCUTIO 0536 And so did I.
0537 55 Well, what was yours?
MERCUTIO 0538 That dreamers often lie.
0539 In bed asleep while they do dream things true.
0540 O, then I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
p. 470541 She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
0542 60 In shape no bigger than an agate stone
0543 On the forefinger of an alderman,
0544 Drawn with a team of little ⌜atomi⌝
0545 Over men’s noses as they lie asleep.
0546 Her wagon spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
0547 65 The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
0548 Her traces of the smallest spider web,
0549 Her collars of the moonshine’s wat’ry beams,
0550 Her whip of cricket’s bone, the lash of film,
0551 Her wagoner a small gray-coated gnat,
0552 70 Not half so big as a round little worm
0553 Pricked from the lazy finger of a ⌜maid.⌝
0554 Her chariot is an empty hazelnut,
0555 Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
0556 Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
0557 75 And in this state she gallops night by night
0558 Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;
0559 On courtiers’ knees, that dream on cur’sies straight;
0560 O’er lawyers’ fingers, who straight dream on fees;
0561 O’er ladies’ lips, who straight on kisses dream,
0562 80 Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues
0563 Because their ⌜breaths⌝ with sweetmeats tainted are.
0564 Sometime she gallops o’er a courtier’s nose,
0565 And then dreams he of smelling out a suit.
0566 And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig’s tail,
0567 85 Tickling a parson’s nose as he lies asleep;
0568 Then he dreams of another benefice.
0569 Sometime she driveth o’er a soldier’s neck,
0570 And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
0571 Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
0572 90 Of healths five fathom deep, and then anon
0573 Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes
0574 And, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two
0575 And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
0576 That plats the manes of horses in the night
p. 490577 95 And bakes the ⌜elflocks⌝ in foul sluttish hairs,
0578 Which once untangled much misfortune bodes.
0579 This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
0580 That presses them and learns them first to bear,
0581 Making them women of good carriage.
0582 100 This is she—
ROMEO 0583 Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace.
0584 Thou talk’st of nothing.
MERCUTIO 0585 True, I talk of dreams,
0586 Which are the children of an idle brain,
0587 105 Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
0588 Which is as thin of substance as the air
0589 And more inconstant than the wind, who woos
0590 Even now the frozen bosom of the north
0591 And, being angered, puffs away from thence,
0592 110 Turning his side to the dew-dropping south.
0593 This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves.
0594 Supper is done, and we shall come too late.
0595 I fear too early, for my mind misgives
0596 Some consequence yet hanging in the stars
0597 115 Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
0598 With this night’s revels, and expire the term
0599 Of a despisèd life closed in my breast
0600 By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
0601 But he that hath the steerage of my course
0602 120 Direct my ⌜sail.⌝ On, lusty gentlemen.
BENVOLIO 0603 Strike, drum.
They march about the stage
and ⌜then withdraw to the side.⌝