The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet (Dowden)/Prologue
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|Chor.||Two households, both alike in dignity,|
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes 5
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do[C 2] with their death bury their parents' strife.
The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love,
And the continuance of their parents' rage, 10
Which, but their children's end, nought could remove,
Is now the two hours' traffic[E 2] of our stage;
The which if you with patient ears attend,
What here shall miss, our toil shall strive to mend. [Exit.[C 3]
- 1–14 Prologue, omitted Ff.
- 8. Do] Rowe, Doth Q.
- 14. Exit] Capell, omitted Q.
- Prologue] This prologue, probably spoken by the actor who appears as Chorus at the opening of Act II., is written in the form of the Shakespearian sonnet; so a sonnet (appreaching nearer to the Italian form) serves as prologue to Heywood's The Faire Maide of the Exchange, printed 1607; a sonnet (Shakespearian) is prologue to his A Woman Killed with Kindness, 1607. Here the note of fate is struck in lines 5, 6.
- 12. two hours' traffic] Compare Henry VIII. Prologue, 12, 13: "May see away their shilling Richly in two short hours." The simple material apparatus of the Elizabethan stage tended to accelerate the performance.