"Take, O Take, Those Lips Away"

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 187

Context: When the Duke of Vienna wishes to enforce the laws of his city, he appoints the stern Angelo and then removes himself from the place of responsibility. The first to fall to the new government is Claudio, who has got a child on his betrothed. Condemned to death, he pleads with his sister, Isabella, for help. The seemingly cold Angelo, on seeing the beautiful Isabella, is so taken with her that he promises Claudio's life for her virtue. When the duke, disguised as Friar Lodowick, learns of the situation, he sets about to free Claudio by involving Angelo, who had once refused to marry his betrothed, Mariana, which betrothal amounted to marriage. Planning to substitute Mariana for Isabella in a tryst with Angelo, the duke approaches the unhappy Mariana with the plot. He finds her listening to a page singing of blighted love.

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PAGE [sings.]
Take, o take those lips away,
That so sweetly were forsworn,
And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn;
But my kisses bring again, bring again;
Seals of love, but sealed in vain, sealed in vain.

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