Romeo Learns of His Banishment
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Father, what news? What is the Prince’s doom? What sorrow craves acquaintance at my hand That I yet know not?
Too familiar Is my dear son with such sour company. I bring thee tidings of the Prince’s doom.
What less than doomsday is the Prince’s doom?
A gentler judgment vanished from his lips: Not body’s death, but body’s banishment.
Ha, banishment! Be merciful, say “death,” For exile hath more terror in his look, Much more than death. Do not say “banishment.”
Hence from Verona art thou banishèd. Be patient, for the world is broad and wide.
There is no world without Verona walls But purgatory, torture, hell itself. Hence “banishèd” is banished from the world, And world’s exile is death. Then “banishèd,”Is death mistermed. Calling death “banishment,” Thou cutt’st my head off with a golden ax And smilest upon the stroke that murders me.
O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness! Thy fault our law calls death, but the kind Prince, Taking thy part, hath rushed aside the law, And turned that black word “death” to “banishment.” This is dear mercy, and thou seest it not.
'Tis torture and not mercy. Heaven is here, Where Juliet lives, and every cat and dog And little mouse, every unworthy thing, Live here in heaven and may look on her, But Romeo may not. More validity, More honorable state, more courtship lives In carrion flies than Romeo. They may seize On the white wonder of dear Juliet’s hand And steal immortal blessing from her lips, Who even in pure and vestal modesty, Still blush, as thinking their own kisses sin. But Romeo may not.
He is banishèd. Flies may do this, but I from this must fly. They are free men, but I am banishèd. And sayst thou yet that exile is not death? Hadst thou no poison mixed, no sharp-ground knife, No sudden mean of death, though ne'er so mean, But “banishèd” to kill me?—“Banishèd”! O Friar, the damnèd use that word in hell. Howling attends it. How hast thou the heart, Being a divine, a ghostly confessor, A sin-absolver, and my friend professed, To mangle me with that word “banishèd”?
Thou fond mad man, hear me a little speak.... I’ll give thee armor to keep off that word— Adversity’s sweet milk, philosophy—To comfort thee though thou art banishèd.
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