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20 October 2014
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Romeo and Juliet

Romeo: "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?" (Act 2 Scene 2)

There are many ways that you could perform this speech; the Speech Text and Performance Notes explore some different approaches.

Speech Text and Performance Notes (210KB)

Romeo and Juliet is a play full of contrasts: love and hate, life and death, friendship and animosity. The Montagues and Capulets are sworn enemies, Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, met for the first time earlier that evening and there was an instant attraction between them. Later that night Juliet is standing on her balcony and Romeo is watching her from below.

Watch a performance of the speech and an interview with the actor below or choose another from the set speech list list.

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? - video

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Romeo and Juliet: Act 2 Scene 2

But, soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief
That thou, her maid, art far more fair than she.
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green,
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O it is my love:
O that she knew she were!
She speaks, yet she says nothing; what of that?
Her eye discourses, I will answer it.
I am too bold, 'tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

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