| Quote #4
O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright!
Do you think this passage where Romeo compares Juliet to a "rich jewel" is good enough to stand on its own as a piece of poetry? So did John Gaugh, the author of a seventeenth-century version of "Dating for Dummies." In his 1639 book, The Academy of Compliments, Gough "borrows" Romeo's lines and places them in a poem he calls "Encomiums on the Beauty of his Mistress." You can compare Romeo's lines (above) to Gough's poem (courtesy of the Folger Shakespeare Library).
| Quote #5
ROMEO [1st Quatrain (4 lines)]
We talk about this famous passage in "Quotes" for "Love," but it's worth mentioning here because the dialogue between Romeo and Juliet forms a near perfect Shakespearean sonnet (a popular poetic form). A Shakespearean sonnet (a.k.a. an English sonnet) has fourteen lines in iambic pentameter. There are three quatrains (groups of four lines), followed by a rhyming couplet (two lines) that wraps the poem up. Sonnets also feature a "turn" somewhere in the middle or in the final two lines, where the poem takes a new direction or changes its argument in some way. This change can be subtle or really obvious. Typically, the rhyme scheme of a Shakespearean sonnet is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG but, you'll notice that Shakespeare does something a bit more unusual here by repeating the rhyme "this" and "kiss" in the first and the second quatrains. So the rhyme scheme here is ABAB CBCB EFEF GG.
Although we English-speaking folks would love to take credit fort this amazing form, it was actually developed by the Italians and didn't arrive in England until the 16th century.
If you want to learn more about Shakespeare's sonnets, check out our discussion of Sonnet 18 and then come back.
| Quote #6
Nay, I'll conjure too.
Here, Mercutio tries to flush Romeo out of his hiding spot in the Capulet's yard by mocking his crush on Rosaline. (Mercutio has no idea that Romeo has just fallen in love with Juliet.) When Mercutio pretends to be Rosaline calling to her "lover" Romeo and begging him to recite some love poetry ("speak but one rhyme"), he sounds like a typical schoolboy giving his buddy a hard time.
But then, Mercutio's teasing turns ugly as he proceeds to list Rosaline's body parts –her "bright eyes," "high forehead," "straight leg," "quivering thigh," and, finally, the genitals that are "adjacent" to her thigh. Basically, Mercutio's description of Rosaline is a dirty version of what's called a "blazon," a poetic technique that catalogues a woman's body parts (and often makes comparisons between said body parts and yummy things in nature – lips like cherries, breasts like melons, etc.). Shakespeare has a tendency to mock this poetic convention. Compare Mercutio's lines (above) to his Sonnet 130 (below):
My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.