Could you please translate the Act II Chorus of "Romeo and Juliet" into modern English?

Expert Answers
robertwilliam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The prologue to Act 2 is in full at the link below. I've paraphrased it for you here:

Romeo's old love (for Rosaline) is now dead
And a new love is taking his place
The beauty which he was so excited by, and woul die for...
Is not so beautiful now that it's been compared with Juliet.
Now Romeo is loved by someone, and loves that person,
Both of them are bewitched by the way the other looks,
But he must plead his love to someone who is supposed to be his enemy,
And she must receive that love fearfully.

Because he's thought her enemy, he is not able
To swear vows like lovers normally do.
And, though she loves him just as much, she is even less able
To meet Romeo anywhere.
But passion gives them the power and the means to meet,
Balancing out the negatives with extreme positives.


mpenza eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,

(Now old desire lies dying)

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 belov'd, and loves again,
Alike bewitched by the charm of looks;
But to his foe suppos'd 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 anywhere;
But passion lends them power, time means, to meet,
Temp’ring extremities with extreme sweet.

(gluing to enemies together in love)

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The chorus does not actually speak in Act II Scene I.  The chorus’ part is in the prologue of that Act.  They are summarizing the situation that is going on between the two families in Verona, Italy.  They are of course talking about Romeo’s family and Juliet’s family.  The chorus tells the audience what is going to happen in the play.  They are foretelling what is going to happen in the play.  To put this concept in today’s terms you might say this section is considered a spoiler for the upcoming suspense.  You can find the line for line translation at the following link.