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What is a paraphrase of the sonnet in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Prologue, that starts...

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lionboy | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 14, 2010 at 11:43 AM via web

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What is a paraphrase of the sonnet in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Prologue, that starts "Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie..."?

Romeo and Juliet, Act I, Prologue

Now old desire doth in his death-bed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groan'd for and would die,
With tender Juliet match'd, is now not fair.
Now Romeo is beloved and loves again,
Alike bewitched by the charm of looks,
But to his foe supposed he must complain,
And she steal love's sweet bait from fearful hooks:
Being held a foe, he may not have access
To breathe such vows as lovers use to swear;
And she as much in love, her means much less
To meet her new-beloved any where:
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet
Tempering extremities with extreme sweet.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 14, 2010 at 11:54 AM (Answer #1)

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This is the prologue to Act II.  It is setting the scene for that act.  It says something to the effect that

Now Romeo does not love his old love (Rosaline) any more -- he loves someone else now.  He loves Juliet and she is way more beautiful than Rosaline.

Now Romeo is loved in return (not like before when he loved Rosaline but she didn't love him).  The trouble is that his new love is from his family's enemy.  That means he can't woo her like usual.  Juliet loves him too, but she can't get out to see him either.

But they love each other so much they find a way to meet and the sweetness of their meeting makes up for the danger.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 15, 2010 at 3:23 AM (Answer #2)

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As a prologue, by definition the Prologue to Act II summarizes what occurs in the act of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet:

The beauty of Romeo's emotions for Rosalind now pale and are "now not fair," compared to the beauty of his delight in his infatuation for Juliet. Enchanted by each others' looks, Romeo and Juliet are faced with the dilemma of being in love with the source of their hates:  they are from the families of mortal foes and are faced with the obstacles of how to meet each other.  However, "passion lends them power," and in their driving emotions, they are determined to love each other.

To assist your reading of this play, please note that there is a modern translation beside the text at the following site:

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