[Enter Romeo, Mercutio, and Benvolio, along with several other partygoers on their way to Lord Capulet’s house for a masquerade, a formal costume party. One of them is dressed as Cupid, the young boy god of Love, complete with a stage-prop bow and arrow. Several are carrying lanterns suspended on poles to light their way.]
What, shall this speech be spoke for our excuse?
Or shall we on without apology?
The date is out of such prolixity.
We'll have no Cupid hoodwink'd with a scarf,
Bearing a Tartar's painted bow of lath,
Scaring the ladies like a crow-keeper;
But let them measure us by what they will,
We'll measure them a measure and be gone.
Give me a torch; I am not for this ambling.
Being but heavy, I will bear the light.
Nay, gentle Romeo, we must have you dance.
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
To soar with his light feathers; and so bound,
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe;
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.
If love be rough with you, be rough with love;
Prick love for pricking, and you beat love down.
[Benvolio holds out several masks from which Mercutio can choose.]
Give me a case to put my visage in.
A visor for a visor — what care I
What curious eye doth quote deformities?
[Mercutio selects a mask with a scowling appearance]
Here are the beetle brows shall blush for me.
Come, knock and enter, and no sooner in,
But every man betake him to his legs.
A torch for me. Let wantons, light of heart,
Tickle the senseless rushes with their heels;
For I am proverb'd with a grandsire phrase.
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.
If thou art dun, we'll draw thee from the mire,
Or – save your reverence – love wherein thou stickest
Up to the ears. Come, we burn daylight, ho!
We waste our lights in vain, like lamps by day.
Take our good meaning, for our judgment sits
Five times in that ere once in our five wits.
And we mean well in going to this mask;
I dream'd a dream tonight.
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 fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Over men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon spokes made of long spiders' legs;
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers;
The traces of the smallest spider's web;
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams;
Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film;
Her wagoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid.
Her chariot is an empty hazelnut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out o' mind the fairies' coach-makers.
And in this state she gallops night by night
Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love;
O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on curtsies straight;
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,
Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.
Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,
And then dreams he of smelling out a suit;
And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail,
Tickling a parson's nose as he lies asleep —
Then dreams he of another benefice.
Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,
And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,
Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,
Of healths five-fathom deep; and then anon
Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes;
And being thus frighted swears a prayer or two
And sleeps again. This is that very Mab
That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes.
This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,
That presses them and learns them first to bear,
Making them women of good carriage.
Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace!
Which are the children of an idle brain,
Begot of nothing but vain fantasy,
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 face 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
Some consequence, yet hanging in the stars,
Shall bitterly begin his fearful date
With this night's revels, and expire the term
Of a despised life closed in my breast,
By some vile forfeit of untimely death.
But he that hath the steerage of my course
Directs my sail! On, lusty gentlemen.