Romeo and Juliet: Act 1, Scene 3

          Enter CAPULET'S WIFE, and NURSE.

  1   Nurse, where's my daughter? call her forth to me.

2. my maidenhead at twelve year old:
3. ladybird: i.e., sweetheart. ("Ladybird" was also a slang term for a prostitute.)  4. God forbid: i.e., God forbid there should be anything wrong.
  2   Now, by my maidenhead at twelve year old,
  3   I bade her come. What, lamb! what, ladybird!
  4   God forbid! Where's this girl? What, Juliet!

          Enter JULIET.

  5   How now! who calls?

  5                     Your mother.

  5                                Madam, I am here.
  6   What is your will?

Lady Capulet, Juliet, and her Nurse

9. thou's: thou shalt.
10. pretty: as in "pretty important."
  7   This is the matter. —Nurse, give leave awhile,
  8   We must talk in secret. —Nurse, come back again;
  9   I have remember'd me, thou's hear our counsel.
 10   Thou know'st my daughter's of a pretty age.

 11   Faith, I can tell her age unto an hour.

 12   She's not fourteen.

 12                                     I'll lay fourteen of my teeth—
13. teen: sorrow.
 13   And yet, to my teen be it spoken, I have but four—
 14   She is not fourteen. How long is it now
15. Lammas-tide: August 1, originally celebrated by the church as a harvest festival.
 15   To Lammas-tide?

15. fortnight: two weeks.
 15                                A fortnight and odd days.

 16   Even or odd, of all days in the year,
17. Lammas-eve at night: the night of the day before Lammas. 18. Susan: This must be the name of the Nurse's deceased daughter. 19. of an age: the same age.
 17   Come Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen.
 18   Susan and she—God rest all Christian souls!—
 19   Were of an age. Well, Susan is with God;
 20   She was too good for me: but, as I said,
 21   On Lammas-eve at night shall she be fourteen;
22. marry: indeed.
 22   That shall she, marry; I remember it well.
 23   'Tis since the earthquake now eleven years;
 24   And she was wean'd—I never shall forget it—
 25   Of all the days of the year, upon that day;
Dovecote26. wormwood: a bitter herbal concoction.  dug: breast.
27. dove-house: dovecote 29. bear a brain: have a great memory.
30. it: i.e., the precious little thing.
31. fool: Here, a term of endearment.
32. fall out with: begin to quarrel with.
33. Shake, quoth the dove-house: "get out of here," said the dovecote.  I trow: I know for sure.
36. stand high-lone: stand upright on her own. rood: cross.
38. broke her brow: skinned her forehead [by falling on her face].
 26   For I had then laid wormwood to my dug,
 27   Sitting in the sun under the dove-house wall;
 28   My lord and you were then at Mantua—
 29   Nay, I do bear a brain—but, as I said,
 30   When it did taste the wormwood on the nipple
 31   Of my dug and felt it bitter, pretty fool,
 32   To see it tetchy and fall out with the dug!
 33   Shake, quoth the dove-house; 'twas no need, I trow,
 34   To bid me trudge.
 35   And since that time it is eleven years;
 36   For then she could stand high-lone; nay, by th' rood,
 37   She could have run and waddled all about;
 38   For even the day before, she broke her brow,
 39   And then my husband—God be with his soul!
40. 'A: he.
 40   'A was a merry man—took up the child:
 41   "Yea," quoth he, "dost thou fall upon thy face?
42. fall backward: fall on your back [to make love]. hast more wit: are wiser. 43. holidam:
 42   Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;
 43   Wilt thou not, Jule?" and, by my holidam,
 44   The pretty wretch left crying and said "Ay."
45. how a jest shall come about: i.e., how a joke turns out to be a prophecy.
 45   To see, now, how a jest shall come about!
 46   I warrant, an I should live a thousand years,
 47   I never should forget it: "Wilt thou not, Jule?" quoth he;
48. stinted: ceased [crying].
 48   And, pretty fool, it stinted and said "Ay."

 49   Enough of this; I pray thee, hold thy peace.

 50   Yes, madam, yet I cannot choose but laugh,
 51   To think it should leave crying and say "Ay."
52. it brow: its brow.
53. young cockerel's stone: young rooster's testicle.
54. parlous knock: perilous bump (said with humorous exaggeration).
 52   And yet, I warrant, it had upon it brow
 53   A bump as big as a young cockerel's stone;
 54   A parlous knock; and it cried bitterly:
 55   "Yea," quoth my husband,"fall'st upon thy face?
 56   Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age;
 57   Wilt thou not, Jule?" it stinted and said "Ay."

58. say I: Juliet makes a pun on the Nurse's repeated use of the phrase "said 'Ay'."
 58   And stint thou too, I pray thee, nurse, say I.

 59   Peace, I have done. God mark thee to his grace!
 60   Thou wast the prettiest babe that e'er I nursed:
 61   An I might live to see thee married once,
 62   I have my wish.

 63   Marry, that "marry" is the very theme
 64   I came to talk of. Tell me, daughter Juliet,
 65   How stands your disposition to be married?

 66   It is an honor that I dream not of.

 67   An honor! were not I thine only nurse,
68. thy teat: the teat you sucked [the Nurse's]. The Nurse's joke is that Juliet couldn't have possibly gotten her wisdom from the Nurse's teat, because the Nurse knows herself to be a fool.
 68   I would say thou hadst suck'd wisdom from thy teat.

 69   Well, think of marriage now; younger than you,
 70   Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,
 71   Are made already mothers: by my count,
72. much upon these years: at much the same age you are now.
 72   I was your mother much upon these years
 73   That you are now a maid. Thus then in brief:
 74   The valiant Paris seeks you for his love.

 75   A man, young lady! Lady, such a man
76. man of wax: i.e., handsome as a wax figure.
 76   As all the world—why, he's a man of wax.

 77   Verona's summer hath not such a flower.

 78   Nay, he's a flower; in faith, a very flower.

 79   What say you? can you love the gentleman?
 80   This night you shall behold him at our feast;
 81   Read o'er the volume of young Paris' face,
 82   And find delight writ there with beauty's pen;
83-84. Examine  . . .  content: examine all the harmonious features of his face, and see how each one makes the others more attractive.
86. margent: margin (which in early books frequently contained commentary on the adjacent text).
87. unbound lover: i.e., Paris.
 83   Examine every married lineament,
 84   And see how one another lends content;
 85   And what obscured in this fair volume lies
 86   Find written in the margent of his eyes.
 87   This precious book of love, this unbound lover,
 88   To beautify him, only lacks a cover.
89-90. The fish ... hide:i.e., everything has its natural place, and it's a matter of natural pride for a beautiful exterior to contain a beautiful interior.
 89   The fish lives in the sea, and 'tis much pride
 90   For fair without the fair within to hide:
 91   That book in many's eyes doth share the glory,
 92   That in gold clasps locks in the golden story;
 93   So shall you share all that he doth possess,
 94   By having him, making yourself no less.

95. bigger; women grow by men: i.e., become pregnant.
 95   No less! nay, bigger; women grow by men.

 96   Speak briefly, can you like of Paris' love?

 97   I'll look to like, if looking liking move:
98. But  . . .  fly: no more deep will I allow my eye to be pierced by the arrow of love than you allow.
 98   But no more deep will I endart mine eye
 99   Than your consent gives strength to make it fly.

          Enter SERVINGMAN.

100   Madam, the guests are come, supper served
101-102. the nurse cursed in the pantry: She's being cursed because she is not there to help serve the supper.
101    up, you called, my young lady asked for, the nurse
102    cursed in the pantry, and every thing in extremity. I
103. follow straight: come immediately.
103    must hence to wait; I beseech you, follow straight.

          Exit Servant

104. stays: waits [for you].
104   We follow thee. Juliet, the county stays.

105. seek happy nights to happy days: seek out happy nights (such as this one, with feasting, music, dancing, etc.) which lead to happy days (as a woman married to a rich and handsome man).
105   Go, girl, seek happy nights to happy days.