Romeo and Juliet

Manga Shakespeare Romeo And Juliet - Richard Appignanesi, Sonia Leong, William Shakespeare

No point in writing a full review, I simply want to say that this is perhaps the most poetic of all Shakespeare's plays. There is nothing forced or laboured, the blank verse just streams from him. To take two examples from Act I, Mercutio's beautiful Queen Mab monologue reads as if it could go on for ever, and when Romeo and Juliet first meet and speak, the dialogue becomes a perfect sonnet:

 

ROMEO
If I profane with my unworthiest hand
This holy shrine, the gentle fine is this:
My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand
To smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.


JULIET
Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
For saints have hands that pilgrims' hands do touch,
And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss.


ROMEO
Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too?


JULIET
Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer.


ROMEO
O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do;
They pray, grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.


JULIET
Saints do not move, though grant for prayers' sake.


ROMEO
Then move not, while my prayer's effect I take.
Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin is purged.


JULIET
Then have my lips the sin that they have took.


ROMEO
Sin from thy lips? O trespass sweetly urged!
Give me my sin again.


JULIET
                                    You kiss by the book.

 

You get no sense that Shakespeare worked on this sonnet. It just happened - maybe even took him by surprise, too!