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FREE: William Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”: A Retelling in Prose

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET: A Retelling in Prose — Act 2, Prologue and Scenes 1-2

Prologue

Romeo’s old “love” for Rosaline has now died, replaced by Romeo’s new love for Juliet. Romeo had suffered during his “love” for Rosaline and he had thought that he would die, but Rosaline’s beauty could not compare with the beauty of Juliet. Juliet now loves Romeo, and Romeo loves Juliet. But Romeo must tell a Capulet — his enemy — that he loves her. Juliet also loves her enemy. Because Romeo is a Montague male, he has little opportunity to meet Juliet again and tell her of his love. Because Juliet is a Capulet female, she has even less opportunity to meet Romeo and tell him of her love. But they are passionately in love, and love will find a way, a time, and a place, and the danger they place themselves in when they meet will be sweetened with extreme pleasure.

 — 2.1 —

Running, Romeo appeared in a lane by the wall of Old Capulet’s garden. He wanted to be alone and he wanted to see Juliet, and so he was running from Benvolio and Mercutio.

Romeo said to himself, “How can I leave this lane when Juliet is so near? Let my body stay here and seek my soul, whose name is Juliet.”

Romeo climbed the wall and jumped down into Old Capulet’s garden.

Benvolio and Mercutio arrived in the lane by the wall of Old Capulet’s orchard. They were seeking Romeo.

Benvolio called, “Romeo! Where are you, Romeo?”

Mercutio said, “Romeo is wise, and I swear on my life that he has gone home to his bed.”

Benvolio disagreed: “He ran this way, and he climbed this garden wall. Call him, good Mercutio.”

“I will call him, and I will entreat him to reveal himself,” Mercutio replied. “Romeo! Romantic man! Madman! Passionate man! Lover! I conjure you to speak to us with a sigh. Speak but one rhyme, and I will be satisfied that you are well and did not break your neck and die when you jumped down from the wall. Sigh ‘Ah, me!’ Say ‘love” and ‘dove.’ Speak a word to Venus, goddess of love. Speak the name of her son Cupid, who shoots his arrows as if love were blind, as when he made King Cophetua fall in love with a beggar-maiden and make her his Queen.”

Mercutio said to Benvolio, “Romeo does not hear me. He does not stir. He does not move. The poor fool is dead, and I must conjure him alive!”

Mercutio called, “I conjure thee by Rosaline’s bright eyes, by her high forehead and her scarlet lip, by her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, and by the foxhole that there adjacent lies, that you appear to us!”

“If he hears what you are saying about Rosaline, he will be angry,” Benvolio said.

“What I say cannot anger him,” Mercutio said. “If I wanted to anger him, I would conjure up a male spirit to put some maleness in her honeyhole, leaving it there arisen until she laid it and conjured it down. That would make him angry. Benvolio, you are a good man, and you want me to speak of a conjurer’s circle, but I know of better, wetter circles to speak about. What I am saying now, however, is fair and honest. The purpose of my conjuration is merely to say the name of the woman Romeo loves and thereby make him rise — at least a part of him.”

“Romeo has hidden himself among these trees,” Benvolio said. “He wants the night to be his company. Love is blind, and so Romeo seeks the night.”

“If love is blind, how can a lover’s arrow hit the target’s circle?” Mercutio asked Benvolio. “Romeo will now sit under a tree and wish that his beloved lass were the medlar fruit that young ladies call ‘open-ass’ when they think that young men are not around to overhear them. I wish that Romeo were a pear — a pear that from the right angle looks like a standing-up penis and balls. In fact, I wish that Romeo were a poperin pear. With an open-ass lass and his pop-er-in pear, Romeo would be able to put his dick in her butt.”

Benvolio looked shocked.

Mercutio then called, “Romeo, good night! I’m going home to my warm bed. It’s too cold for me to sleep out in the open.”

He said to Benvolio, “Shall we go?”

“Let’s go,” Benvolio replied. “It’s useless to seek someone who does not want to be found.”

 — 2.2 —

In Old Capulet’s garden, Romeo listened to Benvolio and Mercutio leave.

Romeo said about Mercutio, “He who jests at the scars of love has never felt a wound.”

Juliet appeared at a window on the second story above Romeo.

Romeo said softly, “What light through yonder window breaks? The window is the East, and Juliet is the Sun. Arise, fair Sun, and kill the envious Moon, who is already sick and pale with grief because you are far more beautiful than she. Diana, the Moon, is a virgin goddess, and you, Juliet, serve her because you are still a virgin. Diana is envious of you. Don’t serve the Moon — the vestal clothing of her and her followers is sick and green, and only fools wear it. Cast off Diana’s vestal clothing — stop being a virgin!

“Here is Juliet! Here is my love! I wish that she knew I love her! She speaks yet she says nothing out loud, but so what? Her eyes speak. I will answer her eyes. But I assume too much — she is not speaking to me.

“Two of the brightest stars in all the Heavens, about to leave on business, beg her eyes to twinkle in their spheres until they return. What if her eyes were in the Heavens, and the two stars were in her head? The brightness of her cheeks would shame those stars, as daylight shames a lamp. Her eyes in Heaven would through the airy region stream so brightly that birds would sing and think it were not night. See, how Juliet leans her cheek upon her hand! Oh, that I were a glove upon her hand, that I might touch her cheek!”

Juliet said, “Sorrow defines my life.”

Romeo said to himself, “She speaks out loud. Speak again, bright angel! You are as glorious to me this night, standing in a window over my head, as is an angel — winged messenger of Heaven — to the upturned wondering eyes of mortals who fall back to gaze on him when he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air.”

Still not knowing that Romeo was in the garden beneath her window, Juliet said, “Romeo, Romeo! Why is your name Romeo? Deny your father and refuse your name — stop being a Montague. Or, if you will not do so, swear that you love me, and I will no longer be a Capulet.”

Romeo said to himself, “Shall I hear more, or shall I speak to Juliet?”

Juliet said, “Only your name is my enemy. If you give up your name, you will still be yourself. What is the name Montague? It is not hand, or foot, or arm, or face, or any other part belonging to a man.”

Juliet paused to smile at “part belonging to a man,” then she continued, “Be some other name! What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. If Romeo were not named Romeo, he would still be perfect. Romeo, put aside your name. In the place of your name, which is not part of you, take all of me.”

Romeo said out loud to Juliet, “I take you at your word — I believe what you have said. Call me your love, and I’ll be baptized a second time and take a new name. Henceforth, my name will not be Romeo.”

Not immediately recognizing Romeo’s voice, Juliet said, “Which man are you who, hidden by the night, have heard what I have said?”

Romeo replied, “I have a name that I know not how to tell you because, dear saint, my name is hateful to myself because it is an enemy to you. If my name were written down, I would tear up my name.”

Juliet said, “My ears have not yet heard a hundred words of your tongue’s utterance, yet I know by the sound of your voice who you are. Aren’t you Romeo and a Montague?”

“I am neither, dear saint, if you dislike them.”

“How did you come here, and why?” Juliet asked. “The garden walls are high and hard to climb, and for you this place is death because you are a Montague. If any of my relatives find you here, they will kill you.”

“With love’s light wings did I fly over these walls,” Romeo said. “Stony walls cannot stop love and keep love out. Whatever love can do, that will love attempt. Your relatives cannot stop me or my love for you.”

“If my relatives see you, they will murder you.”

“An angry look from you would hurt me more than twenty of their swords,” Romeo said. “But if you look at me sweetly, their hatred cannot hurt me.”

“I would not for the world have them see you here.”

“The night will hide me,” Romeo said. “But if you do not love me, let them find me here. It is better for them to kill me than for me to go on living without your love.”

“How did you find this place?”

“Love caused me to make inquiries and find it,” Romeo said. “Love lent me wisdom, and I lent love eyes. I am no pilot; yet, if you were as far away as that vast shore washed with the farthest sea, I would risk taking the journey there for such a prize as you.”

“Because of the darkness of the night, you cannot see my face, but if you could see my face, you would see a blush because of the words you have overheard me speak,” Juliet said. “I could put on an act and deny what I said, but I won’t do that. Let me ask you straight out: Do you love me? I know that you will say ‘Yes,’ and I know that I will believe you. Still, even if you swear that you love me, you may be lying. They say that Jove, the Roman king of the gods, laughs at the perjuries of male lovers. Romeo, if you really do love me, tell me the truth. But if you think that I am won too easily, I will play hard to get, if that will make you woo me, but I prefer not to play games. To be honest, fair Montague, I love you too much, and you may think me too easy, but trust me, gentleman, and I will be true to you, unlike those girls who only pretend to be virtuous. I should not have revealed my love for you so quickly, I admit, but you overheard my confession before I was aware that you were present. Therefore, pardon me. Do not think that because I have confessed so quickly during this dark night that I am not serious.”

Romeo started to reply romantically and poetically, “Lady, I swear by the blessed Moon that tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops —”

“Do not swear by the Moon, the inconstant Moon, that monthly changes in her circled orbit. If you swear by the ever-changing Moon, perhaps your love for me will change into a love for someone else.”

“What shall I swear by?”

“Do not swear at all, or if you must swear, swear by your gracious self, for you are the god of my idolatry. If you do so, I will believe you.”

“If my heart’s dear love —”

“Do not swear,” Juliet said, changing her mind. “You bring me joy, but I have no joy of our contact tonight. It is too rash, too unadvised, too sudden. It is too much like the lightning, which ceases to be before one can say ‘It lightens.’ My sweet one, good night! This bud of love, ripening by the breath of summer, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet. Good night, good night! May you enjoy the same sweet repose and rest that I feel within my breast!”

“Will you leave me so unsatisfied?”

“What satisfaction can you have tonight?”

“The exchange of your love’s faithful vow for mine.”

If Romeo had been a different kind of man — a man such as Mercutio — he would have asked for a different kind of satisfaction.

“I gave you my vow of love before you asked for it,” Juliet said. “I wish that I could take back that vow of love.”

“Why would you want to take it back?” Romeo asked.

“So that I could once more tell you for the first time that I love you,” Juliet replied. “But really, I am wishing for something that I already have: for you and me to be in love. My love for you is as boundless as the sea. My love for you is as deep as the sea. The more love I give to you, the more love I have left to give because my love for you is infinite.”

The Nurse called from within the mansion, “Juliet!”

Juliet said to Romeo, “I hear some noise within. Dear love, goodbye!”

She shouted to the Nurse inside the mansion, “Just a minute!”

Then she said to Romeo, “Sweet Montague, be true. Stay but a little while, and I will come to the window again.”

Juliet went inside to talk to the Nurse, and Romeo said to himself, “Blessed, blessed night! I am afraid lest that, this being night, all this is only a dream. It seems too flattering-sweet to be real.”

Juliet reappeared at the window, “Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed. If your love for me is honorable and you want to marry me, send me a message tomorrow by a person whom I will send to you. In your message tell me where and at what time you will marry me, and all my fortunes at your foot I will lay and I will follow you, my husband, throughout the world.”

The Nurse called from within, “Juliet!”

Juliet called to the Nurse, “I’m coming!”

Juliet then said to Romeo, “But if your love for me is not honorable, I beg you —”

The Nurse called, “Juliet!”

“Just a minute!” Juliet called, and then she said to Romeo, “But if your love for me is not honorable, I beg you to stop wooing me and to leave me to my grief. Tomorrow I will send someone to you.”

Romeo began, “So thrive my soul —”

But Juliet said, “A thousand times good night!” and went inside.

Romeo complained to himself, “Being away from you is a thousand times worse than being close to you. A lover goes toward his lover as eagerly as a schoolboy goes away from his books. A lover goes away from his lover as sorrowfully as a schoolboy walks to school.”

He began to leave, but Juliet reappeared at the window.

Not seeing Romeo, she hissed, “Romeo!” She was trying to be loud enough to be heard by Romeo but not so loud as to be heard by her family and the Nurse.

Juliet said, “I wish I could shout as loudly as a falconer who calls his falcon back to him. That way, Romeo would hear me. But I cannot shout. I must be hoarse and not draw my family’s attention, or I would make use of the voice of Echo, who was so talkative that Juno, Queen of the gods, punished her by making her repeat the words of other people. I would shout ‘Romeo’ into the cave where Echo lives, and she would repeat his name. Her voice would say his name so many times that it would grow more hoarse than mine.”

Romeo heard Juliet, and he returned to her.

He said, “Juliet, who is my soul, calls my name: How silver-sweet sound the tongues of lovers by night! They are like the softest music to attentive ears!”

“Romeo!” Juliet called.

“Yes, Juliet?”

“At what time tomorrow shall I send a messenger to you?”

“Nine in the morning.”

“I will not fail. It will seem like twenty years until nine a.m. comes.”

She turned to go inside, then turned back, hesitated, and said, “I have forgotten what else I wanted to say to you.”

“Let me stand here until you remember it.”

“I shall forget on purpose in order to have you still stand there because I love to be with you.”

“And I will continue to stay here, and let you continue to forget. I will forget that I have any other home than right here.”

“It is almost morning. Because of the danger you would face if you were found here, I would have you go, and yet I want you to go no further than a spoiled child’s bird. The child lets the bird hop a small distance from her hand like a poor prisoner in his twisted chains, and with a silk thread pulls it back to her. The child does not want the bird to leave her.”

“I wish that I were your bird.”

“So do I,” Juliet said. “But if I act like that now, I will get you killed by keeping you here too long. Good night! Good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say ‘good night’ until it be tomorrow.”

She departed.

Romeo said to himself, “May sleep dwell upon your eyes, and may peace be in your breast! I wish that I were sleep and peace, so I could be with you. Now I will go to my priest’s home to beg for his help and to tell him about my good fortune.”

***

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David Bruce: Dante’s INFERNO: A Discussion Guide — “Canto 7: Prepurgatory — The Negligent Princes”

Canto 7: Prepurgatory — The Negligent Princes

  • How does Sordello react when he learns that he has embraced the great Virgil?

Sordello asks Dante and Virgil more about who they are, and Virgil introduces himself:

“Or ever to this mountain were directed

The souls deserving to ascend to God,

My bones were buried by Octavian.

I am Virgilius; and for no crime else

Did I lose heaven, than for not having faith;”

(Longfellow 7.4-8)

This is a surprise to Sordello, and surprises in Purgatory are good. Sordello is astonished, and he is very happy because Virgil truly is a great poet. Sordello tells Virgil:

“O glory of the Latians, thou,” he said,

“Through whom our language showed what it could do

O pride eternal of the place I came from,”     

(Longfellow 7.16-18)

In Purgatory, souls are very helpful. Virgil and Dante are looking for the gate to Purgatory Proper, and Sordello offers to be their guide. However, he does say that in Purgatory, souls cannot advance up the Mountain during the night. (We will see later that the Slothful run day and night to make up for lost time.)

However, we should note that Sordello pays more attention to Virgil than he does to Dante. Virgil may be in Limbo, but he is still a rock star to those in Prepurgatory who love poetry. Also, of course, this shows that Sordello is not a perfected soul yet. He is impressed by celebrity although he should be keeping his mind fixed on purging his sins.

  • What made the Negligent Rulers negligent?

Most of the Negligent Rulers were negligent in taking care of their own souls. They were so occupied with Earthly matters that they had no time for Heavenly matters. In addition, they sometimes didn’t do all that well in taking care of Earthly matters. One ruler — Henry of England (Henry III) — was noted for his piety: His negligence was toward his kingdom.

Kings cannot be negligent if they are to be good. Kings must take care of their spiritual as well as of their secular matters. A good King can do much good for his people. Of course, a good King must also take care of his own soul.

All of the Negligent Rulers — and Sordello the troubadour — died while Dante was alive. Dante describes some of the eight Negligent Rulers in terms of the size of their noses. We should note that on Earth some of these rulers were enemies, but that they get along well here, of course. Ottokar II comforts in Purgatory Rudolf I, who was his enemy in life.

These Negligent Rulers made God wait, and God is going to make these Negligent Rulers wait before they are allowed to climb up the Mountain of Purgatory.

  • Is nobility of character an inherited virtue?

No, it is not:

Not often does the sap of virtue rise

to all the branches. This is His own gift,

and we can only beg that He bestow it.

(Musa 7.121-123)

Bad sons are born to good fathers, and good sons are born to bad fathers. Nobility of character is acquired, not inherited. You form your own character by your own actions. In William Shakespeare’s history play 1 Henry IV, King Henry IV is afraid that he has a bad son — Prince Hal — who will be a bad King. Fortunately, Prince Hal reforms himself, stops hanging around with lowlifes, and becomes a good King: Henry V.

We find out in this canto that some of these Negligent Rulers have bad sons.

Each of us forms our own character, although we can certainly pray to God to help us become better people. The doing of good deeds is important. As a free person, you can choose to live your life as a good person or as a bad person. To be a good person, do good deeds. To be a bad person, do bad deeds. If you do good deeds, you will become good. If you do bad deeds, you will become bad. To become the person you want to be, act as if you already are that kind of person. Each of us chooses what kind of person we will become. To become a hero, do the things a hero does. To become a coward, do the things a coward does. The opportunity to take action to become the kind of person you want to be is yours.

  • Are the various classes of the Spiritually Negligent treated properly by having to wait to climb the Mountain of Purgatory?

Yes, they have to wait to climb the Mountain of Purgatory, but waiting is proper for them.

The souls of dead sinners who sincerely repented arrive in Prepurgatory, where they wait until they are ready to pass through the Gates of Purgatory to Purgatory Proper. Some souls — the late repentant — must wait longer than others. The late repentant are these:

1) those who died while excommunicated.

2) the indolent (who kept putting off spiritual matters).

3) those who repented only in their final moments of life.

4) those who ignored spiritual matters while concentrating on worldly matters  (the Negligent Rulers). Also in this group of Negligent Rulers are those who ignored worldly matters while concentrating on spiritual matters. Rulers need to take care of the people in the land they rule.

These souls kept God waiting, and God makes them wait to enter Purgatory Proper. However, these souls can enter Purgatory Proper more quickly if good people pray for them. This is good news.

***

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PURGATORY: CANTO 5 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/dantes-purgatory-canto-5-retelling-prepurgatory-those-who-repented-while-meeting-violent-sudden-deaths/

PURGATORY: CANTO 6 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/dantes-purgatory-canto-6-retelling-sordello/

PURGATORY: CANTO 7  RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/dantes-purgatory-canto-7-retelling-prepurgatory-the-negligent-princes/

PURGATORY: CANTO 8 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/dantes-purgatory-canto-8/

PURGATORY: CANTO 9 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/dantes-purgatory-canto-9-retelling-prepurgatory-first-prophetic-dream-and-saint-peters-gate/

PURGATORY: CANTO 10 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/dantes-purgatory-canto-10-retelling-first-ledge-pride-purgatory/

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PARADISE KINDLE EBOOK

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DIVINE COMEDY KINDLE EBOOK

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET — Act 1, Scenes 4-5

 — 1.4 —

On a street of Verona, Romeo, Mercutio, Benvolio, and five or six other people wearing masks and some people holding torches to provide light were heading to Old Capulet’s party. Mercutio was neither a Montague nor a Capulet, but he was a friend to Romeo and Benvolio and other Montagues. He was also related to Prince Escalus.

“When we arrive at the party, should we talk to Old Capulet and introduce ourselves, or should we simply crash the party?” Romeo asked.

“We need not say anything,” Benvolio said. “Wordy introductions are out of fashion. We need not draw attention to ourselves. We certainly aren’t going to blindfold one of ourselves like Cupid, arm him with a bow, and scare all the ladies like a scarecrow scares crows. We don’t need such ostentatious costumes, and we don’t need any memorized complimentary speeches. We will simply crash the party anonymously and let them judge us as they will. We will dance a dance, and then we will be gone.”

“Let me hold a torch,” Romeo said. “I am not in the mood for dancing.”

“No, good friend Romeo,” Mercutio said. “We must watch you dance.”

“You would not enjoy the sight,” Romeo replied. “You, Mercutio, have dancing shoes with nimble soles. I have a soul of lead that weighs me down so I cannot dance.”

“You are a lover,” Mercutio said. “You can easily borrow Cupid’s wings. With them you can dance lighter than a non-lover.”

“Not so,” Romeo said. “I am so wounded by Cupid’s arrow that I cannot soar with his light feathers. Because I am so wounded, I cannot leap in a dance. Under love’s heavy burden, I sink.”

“By sinking, you drag down love,” Mercutio said. “Love is so tender that it ought not to be treated like that.”

“Is love tender?” Romeo asked. “Love treats me roughly, rudely, and boisterously, and it pricks like a thorn.”

“If love is rough with you, then you should be rough with love,” Mercutio, who regarded sex as a joke, said. “If love pricks you, then use your prick to lay down your love and be satisfied.”

They had arrived at Old Capulet’s mansion. Mercutio shouted, “Someone, give me a mask to put my face in. Give me a new face for my old face. And make the new face ugly. What do I care if people look at me and think that my face is deformed?”

Someone handed Mercutio an ugly mask. He looked at it and said, “Here are the overhanging beetle brows that shall make me look deformed!”

Benvolio said, “Let’s knock and go in. As soon as we are in, let all of us begin dancing.”

“Give me a torch to hold,” Romeo said. “Let people who are light of heart do the dancing. If I hold a torch and am an onlooker only, I probably won’t get in trouble. I am not in the mood for dancing, and so I won’t dance. I am done with dancing.”

“Done with dancing?” Mercutio said. “Dun is the color of a mouse, and now we should be quiet like a mouse. We should stop talking and go in to the party and start dancing. If you are dull-colored and dun, we will pick you up out of the mire caused by your lovesickness — that mire in which you are up to your ears. Come on, we need to go in to the party. We are wasting light.”

“No, we aren’t. It’s night,” Romeo said.

“Please,” Mercutio said. “We are wasting the light cast by our torches by not going in to the brightly lit party. It is like lighting a lamp on a bright summer day when the lamp is not needed. Don’t think so literally. Usually, you are a wit.”

“We mean well by going to this party,” Romeo said, “but we are not showing wit or intelligence by so going.”

“Why not?” Mercutio asked.

“I dreamt a dream tonight.”

“And so did I.”

“What was your dream?”

“That dreamers often lie.”

“In bed asleep, while they do dream about true things,” Romeo, who could be witty, said.

Mercutio, as was common with him, let his imagination run free: “Oh, then, I see Queen Mab has been with you. She is the fairies’ midwife, and she is no bigger than the agate-stone on a ring on the forefinger of an alderman. She rides in a wagon drawn by a team of tiny insects across men’s noses as they sleep. The spokes of the wheels of her wagon are made from spiders’ long legs. Covering her wagon are the wings of grasshoppers. The traces used by the insects to draw her wagon are made from the webs of spiders. The collars that go around the necks of the insects are made of moonbeams. Her whip handle is made from a cricket’s bone, and the lash of her whip is made from a fine filament. Her wagoner is a small grey-coated gnat that is not as big as a round little worm touched by the lazy finger of a maiden. Her chariot is the shell of a hazelnut, and it was manufactured by a carpenter squirrel or an old grub, which for ages have made the coaches of fairies.”

Mercutio’s vision gradually grew darker: “And in this carriage Queen Mab gallops night by night through the brains of lovers, and then they dream of love. She gallops over the knees of courtiers, and then they dream of curtsies. She gallops over the fingers of lawyers, and then they dream of lawyers’ fees. She gallops night by night over the lips of ladies, who dream of kisses. Queen Mab blisters those lips because they smell of candy. Sometimes she gallops over the nose of a courtier, and then he dreams of smelling out a lawsuit. Sometimes she takes the tail of a tithe-pig — a gift to support a priest — and she uses it to tickle the nose of a parson, and then he dreams of money and wealth.”

And then Mercutio’s vision became very dark: “And in this carriage Queen Mab sometimes drives over the neck of a soldier, and then he dreams of cutting foreign throats, of breaking through defensive walls, of ambushes, of Spanish swords, and of drunkenness. She drums in his ear and he wakes up. Frightened, he prays and makes vows to God, and then he goes back to sleep. She is that very Queen Mab who makes matted the manes of horses in the night, and tangles their hairs in foul elflocks that, once untangled, are harbingers of misfortune. Queen Mab is the hag who sends dreams that teach maidens to lie on their backs and screw and get pregnant and carry children like women of good carriage. Queen Mab is she who —”

Alarmed by Mercutio’s wildness, Romeo touched him gently on the arm and said, “Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace! Be quiet now. You are talking of nothing.”

As if he were coming out of a trance, Mercutio blinked himself into everyday consciousness and said, “True, I talk of dreams, which are the children of an idle brain and are born of nothing but vain fantasy that is as thin of substance as the air and that is more unconstant than the wind, which now blows toward the frozen bosom of the north, but then becomes angry and blows toward the dew-dropping south.”

“We are being blown off our course by the wind you talk of,” Benvolio said. “We are supposed to be attending a party. By now, everyone has eaten. Soon, people will start leaving the party and going home.”

Romeo thought, Benvolio worries about getting to the party too late. I worry about getting there too early. I worry that an uncaring fate and the uncaring stars will set something in motion at this party that shall end with my all-too-early death. But let who or whatever has the steerage of my course direct my sail!

Romeo said out loud, “Let’s go party-crashing, friends!”

Benvolio said to a drummer, “Begin drumming,” and all marched into the mansion of Old Capulet.

 — 1.5 —

Inside Old Capulet’s mansion, musicians played. Some servants were busy cleaning up the great chamber after the dinner.

A servant asked, “Where’s Potpan? Why isn’t he helping us to carry dirty dishes away from the table? How can he call himself a server? He isn’t scraping any dishes and washing them!”

A second servant said, “When almost everyone forgets to do their work, and it lies in the hands of only a couple of workers to do all the work, then it is a foul thing — and the good workers’ hands are foul with the work of scraping dirty plates.”

The first servant said, “Let’s carry out of the dining room the folding chairs and movable cupboard and the silver dishes and the silverware. Please, save me a piece of marchpane — I love sugar and almonds. And please, tell the porter to let in Susan Grindstone and Nell. Our master is having a party, and we have a party of our own planned.”

The first servant then called, “Anthony and Potpan!”

Anthony and Potpan arrived.

Anthony asked, “What do you want?”

“Help is needed in the great chamber,” the first server said. “They have been asking for your help for a long time.”

Potpan said, “We cannot be here and there, too. Be cheerful, boys; work hard and quickly, and then we will have time for our party.”

In the great chamber, Old Capulet invited guests and maskers to dance. Juliet was nearby.

Wearing masks and not easily recognized, Romeo and his friends entered the great chamber.

Old Capulet said, “Welcome, gentlemen! Ladies who are not plagued with painful corns on their feet will be happy to dance with you. Ladies, none of you will dare not to dance, now! Any lady who does not dance will — I will tell everybody — have corns on her feet. Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day when I have worn a mask and would whisper sweet nothings in a fair lady’s ear, but for me those days are gone. You are welcome, gentlemen! Musicians, play! Clear the hall. Dance, everyone! Foot it, girls!”

Mercutio, Benvolio, and others in Romeo’s group began to dance. Romeo stood to the side like a wallflower.

Old Capulet ordered, “More light, you knaves. Move the tables to the side. Quench the fire because the room has grown too hot.”

Old Capulet, who had not recognized Romeo, said to a relative about Romeo and his group of friends, “I had not expected these people in masks to be guests, but the more the merrier — especially welcome are those who will dance. You and I are past our dancing days — how many years has it been since you and I wore a mask at a party?”

His relative answered, “By Saint Mary, it must be thirty years.”

“What?” Old Capulet said. “It can’t have been that long ago! We last wore a mask at the wedding of Lucentio at Pentecost. When Pentecost arrives, it will have been twenty-five years since Lucentio was married.”

“He has been married longer than that. His son is thirty years old.”

“That’s not possible, is it?” Old Capulet said. “Just two years ago, his son was still a minor.”

Romeo had caught sight of Juliet, and her beauty dazzled him. He asked a servant, “Which lady is she who is dancing with that knight?”

The servant replied, “I know not, sir.” Old Capulet had hired extra servants for the feast and dance; these servants were not familiar with the Capulet household.

Still wearing a mask, Romeo thought, She teaches the torches how to burn brightly. She seems to brightly hang upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiopian woman’s ear. Her beauty is too rich for use and too dear for Earth! She is like a white dove in the midst of a flock of black crows — that is how much in beauty she surpasses all the other women in this ballroom. Once this dance is finished, I will watch where she stands, and I will touch her hand and make blessed my own rough hand.

Then Romeo said out loud without thinking, “Did my heart ever love before now? Answer no, sight! For I never saw true beauty until this night.”

Although Romeo thought that he was speaking softly, Tybalt overheard him enough to recognize the sound of his voice but not enough to understand the content of his words.

Tybalt said to a servant, “This person, judging by his voice, is a Montague. Fetch me my rapier, boy. How does this slave dare to come hither, his face covered with a grotesque mask, to mock and scorn our dance? By the stock and honor of my kin, to strike Romeo dead, I hold it not a sin.”

Old Capulet noticed that Tybalt was upset, and he asked him, “What’s wrong? Why are you so angry?”

Tybalt replied, “Uncle, this man is a Montague, our enemy. He is a villain who has come here in spite, to mock our dance this night.”

Old Capulet looked closely at the young man whom Tybalt pointed out, and he asked, “Young Romeo, is it?”

Tybalt replied, “Yes, he is that villain Romeo.”

Mindful that the Prince of Verona had threatened him with death should violence break out, Old Capulet said, “Don’t be angry, Tybalt. Let him alone. He bears himself like a good gentleman, and to say the truth, he has a reputation throughout Verona of being a virtuous and well-behaved youth. I would not for the wealth of all Verona have any harm come to him in my house. Therefore, Tybalt, be patient and take no note of him. Instead, I want you to show a fair presence. Look pleasant, be courteous, and don’t frown. Remember that you are at a dance.”

“My frowns are justified, when a guest is such a villain,” Tybalt said. “I will not endure Romeo’s presence.”

A younger man should not disrespect an older man, especially when the older man is a wealthy and respected relative and the host of a dance that the young man is attending.

Old Capulet told Tybalt, scornfully, “I say that you shall endure Romeo’s presence here. You will do what I tell you to do, young man! Who is the master here? Me? Or you? Who are you to make a scene? No one, that’s who!”

“But, uncle, it’s a shame!”

“Says you!” Old Capulet replied. “Are you going to disrespect me? Do so, and your actions will come back and bite you in the ass. Don’t be a fool.”

He said to some nearby guests, “Enjoy yourselves and be merry!”

He then said to Tybalt, “You are acting like a spoiled youngster! If you can’t behave, leave before you make a fool of yourself.”

He said to some servants, “More light, more light!”

He then said to Tybalt, who looked ready to burst with words, “Be quiet, or I’ll make you quiet.”

He said to some guests, “Be merry, friends.”

Tybalt, still angry, thought, Patience and anger don’t mix. I am so angry that I cannot be patient, and so I shall leave. Romeo’s intrusion here must seem to him sweet, but I shall change the sweetness to bitter gall.

Tybalt left the great chamber.

Juliet had stopped dancing, and Romeo — whose name means “a pilgrim to Rome” — went over to her and held her hand, saying, “If I profane with my unworthiest hand this holy shrine, your hand, the gentle fine is this: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth that rough touch with a tender kiss.”

Juliet, using the same metaphor of a pilgrim — sometimes also called palmers — visiting a holy shrine, replied, “Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much. By holding my hand, you show proper devotion. For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch, and palm-to-palm is holy palmers’ kiss. By holding my hand, you have showed proper devotion, but let’s not otherwise kiss.”

Romeo asked, “Have not saints lips, and holy palmers, too?”

“Yes, pilgrim,” Juliet said. “They have lips that they must use in prayer.”

“Oh, then, dear saint, let our lips do what our hands are doing — let our lips touch. My lips pray to you for a kiss. Grant their prayer, lest my faith turn to despair.”

“Saints do not take the initiative, even when through the intercession of God they grant prayers.”

“Then move not, while you grant my prayer. Thus from my lips, by yours, my sin you take.”

Romeo kissed Juliet.

“Now my lips have the sin that they have taken from your lips,” Juliet said.

“Your lips have taken sin from my lips?” Romeo said. “That is a trespass I sweetly urged! Give me my sin again.”

He kissed her again.

Juliet said, “You kiss by the book — you get your kisses in accordance with the pilgrim metaphor we have been following.”

The Nurse arrived and said to Juliet, “Madam, your mother craves a word with you.”

Juliet left, and Romeo asked the Nurse, “Who is her mother?”

The Nurse replied, “Young man, her mother is the lady of the house, and a good lady, both wise and virtuous. I was wet nurse to her daughter, with whom you have been talking. Whoever marries her will inherit much wealth from her father.”

The Nurse went to Juliet.

Romeo thought, She is the only daughter of Old Capulet! My life is forfeited to my enemy! If I can’t be with Juliet, I cannot live!

Benvolio came over to Romeo and said, “It is time for us to leave — we have had a good time here.”

“Yes,” Romeo said. “I wonder if I ever again will have as good a time.”

Old Capulet heard the two talking and said, “No, gentlemen, don’t leave now. Stay and eat a snack before you go.”

Benvolio shook his head no, and Old Capulet said, “What? You must leave? Then I thank you gentlemen for coming tonight. Good night, young sirs.”

Old Capulet said, “Bring more torches here to provide light for these gentlemen.”

Romeo and Benvolio waited for Mercutio to come, and Old Capulet said to Juliet and the Nurse, “It really is getting late, so I’m going to bed.”

Old Capulet left, but Juliet and the Nurse stayed.

Juliet still did not know the name of the young man who had kissed her, and she did not want the Nurse to know that she was interested in him, so she asked what were the names of some other young men before she asked for the name of the young man who had kissed her.

Juliet pointed and asked the Nurse, “Who is that gentleman?”

The Nurse replied, “The son and heir of old Tiberio.”

“Who is that person who is now going out of the door?”

“He, I think, is young Petruchio.”

Juliet pointed and asked, “Who is the young man who would not dance?”

“I don’t know.”

“Please go and ask him his name.”

The Nurse left to inquire, and Juliet thought, If he is married, I think that I will die. My grave will be my wedding bed.

The Nurse returned and said, “His name is Romeo, and he is a Montague. He is the only son of your great enemy.”

Juliet said softly, “My only love sprung from my only hate! I saw and loved him before I knew who he was, and I found out who he is too late to stop loving him. Love is born in me, and I now love a loathed enemy.”

“What did you say?” the Nurse asked.

“Just a rhyme that I learned at this dance.”

Someone in another room called, “Juliet.”

The Nurse said loudly, “We’re coming! We’re coming!”

She said to Juliet, “Let’s go now. The guests have all left. All who remain are family and servants.”

They left.

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David Bruce: Dante’s PURGATORY: A Discussion Guide — “Canto 6: Prepurgatory — Sordello”

Canto 6: Prepurgatory — Sordello

  • Often we will see linkage in The Divine Comedy. For example, Inferno6 and Purgatory6 are both about politics (as isParadise6).

We will see a broadening of perspective as we go from the Inferno to Purgatory to Paradise, and in Paradise we see the big picture:

Canto 6 (the gluttons) in the Infernois about politics in Florence.

Canto 6 in Purgatoryis about politics in Italy.

Canto 6 in Paradiseis about politics in the Roman and the Holy Roman Empire.

Dante criticizes corruption. In each of the above cantos, he criticizes corruption in the area under discussion.

Note that we go from the smaller picture to the larger picture as we go from the Inferno(Florence) to Purgatory(Italy) to Paradise(the Roman and the Holy Roman Empire).

  • Does prayer affect the will of Heaven?

We pray for the dead, so we must think it has an effect.

When Dante asks whether prayer affects the will of Heaven, Virgil tells him to ask Beatrice when he sees her later. (When Dante hears the name Beatrice, he is energized and ready to climb higher. He is eager to see Beatrice again.)

Virgil also says that the prayers of the pure of heart are heard in Heaven. The prayers of evil people are not heard in Heaven.

Dante asks about prayer because of a passage in Virgil’s Aeneid6.373-376, in which Palinurus wishes to be ferried across the River Styx although his body has not been buried. Mark Musa translates the Sibyl’s response to Palinurus’ request (63):

Whence, Palinurus, this wild longing of yours?

Shall you, unburied, view the Stygian waters and

The Furies’ stern river, and unbidden, draw near the bank?

Stop dreaming that heaven’s decrees may be turned aside by prayer.

The prayers of pagans are unanswered because pagans do not worship God correctly. Therefore, what Virgil wrote in the Aeneidis correct, but it does not apply to the prayers of sincere Christians.

Virgil also refers to the omnibenevolence of God — to God’s love:

“High justice would in no way be abased

if ardent love should cancel instantly

the debt these penitents must satisfy,”

(Musa 6.37-39)

On the Day of Judgment, any soul who is climbing the Mountain of Purgatory will instantly go to Paradise, even if under normal circumstances the soul would spend hundreds of years climbing the Seven-Storey Mountain.

This can give hope to the rest of us. God’s love may be so great that God saves even the sinners in the Inferno. This would certainly be a triumph for Love. Some people believe in Hell, but because they also believe in God’s Love, they believe that Hell is either empty or will be empty one day.

By the way, Father Bob Perella once said, “Since I believe in the Bible, I’m sure there’s a Hell. But I believe in God’s mercy — and therefore I’m sure it’s empty.” (Source: Joey Adams, The God Bit, p. 253.)

  • Compare and contrast how Sordello and Virgil, who are from the same city, interact with the way that Dante and Farinata, who are from the same city, interacted in Inferno10.

Virgil asks a soul for help — he is confident of receiving help. That is one difference between the Inferno and Purgatory. The souls in Purgatory are eager to help. The souls in deep Hell are not eager to help. The souls who are willing to tell their stories to Dante often want to gain something by it — to spin their stories to cast the blame somewhere else (Francesca da Rimini) or to have continued Earthly fame (Brunetto Latini).

Farinata and Dante immediately began to talk about what separated them: family and politics. They began to try to score points off each other. Farinata pointed out that he had scattered Dante’s party twice, and Dante pointed out that his party had returned to Florence but that Farinata’s family had not. Farinata then revealed that the future held troubled times for Dante.

Sordello happens to be from Mantua, which is where Virgil is from. When Sordello learns this, he reacts in an interesting way:

But of our native land and of our life

It questioned us; and the sweet Guide began:

“Mantua,” — and the shade, all in itself recluse,

Rose tow’rds him from the place where first it was,

Saying: “O Mantuan, I am Sordello

Of thine own land!” and one embraced the other.

(Longfellow 6.70-75)

Sordello and Virgil have a birthplace in common, and they like each other because of it. (Later, we will see in Heaven that Earthly citizenship is not important. What is important is being in Paradise.) At this point, Sordello does not know that he is embracing a great Roman poet.

Another difference between the Inferno and Purgatory is the lack of factionalism, which we saw a lot of inInferno6 (Ciacco talks about factionalism in Florence) and Inferno10 (Farinata). Neither Sordello nor Virgil are trying to one-up each other or trying to score points against each other.

  • How does Dante the Poet criticize the corruption and evil in Italy?

We see Dante the Poet doing a lot of criticism from this point. He heavily criticizes factionalism, which exists throughout Italy, not just in Florence. Many warriors are in Italy, and they are killing other Italians. Two targets of Dante’s criticism are the Holy Roman Emperor and the Pope.

Dante points out the importance of Roman law, which is one of the wonders of the world. Unfortunately, the Holy Roman Emperor is in Germany rather than Italy, so no one is around to enforce the Roman law. Why isn’t the Holy Roman Emperor around? In part, because the Pope doesn’t want him around. We read:

What boots it, that for thee Justinian

The bridle mend, if empty be the saddle?

Withouten this the shame would be the less.

(Longfellow 6.88-90)

We will also see a further linkage with Canto 6 of Paradise, in which we meet Justinian, who codified the law. The point of the above passage is that Justinian codified the law, but that no one is now in Italy to enforce it.

Here is more criticism of factionalism in Dante the Poet’s apostrophe:

Come and behold Montecchi and Cappelletti,

Monaldi and Fillippeschi, careless man!

Those sad already, and these doubt-depressed!

(Longfellow 6.106-108)

The Cappelletti and the Montecchi families are better known to modern readers as the Capulets and the Montagues, which is how they appear in William Shakespeare’sRomeo and Juliet.

  • What is the importance of law in a society?

Law is enormously important in society.It lets people know what they can and cannot do legally. If the laws were not written down, we would find it difficult to know when we were breaking the law. (The Magna Carta is important in part because in it the laws are written down.) In addition, if laws were constantly changing and not stable, we would run into difficulties. Dante writes:

that by the time November is half done

the laws spun in October are in shreds.

How often within memory have you changed

coinage and customs, laws and offices,

and members of your body politic!

(Musa 6.142-147)

Florence and other places are chaotic because of constantly changing laws. When the Ghibellines kick out the Guelfs, they make new laws. When the Guelfs kick out the Ghibellines, they make new laws. With political power changing hands so quickly and so often, it is very difficult to make plans.

In order for people to respect law, it has to stay law for a while. If it changes frequently, people won’t know what is legal and what is illegal.

In the United States, we haveex post factolaws. If I do something that is legal today and it becomes illegal tomorrow, I can’t be charged with it because it wasn’t illegal when I did it. For example, when I was age 18, people could drink legally in Florida at age 18. Later, the law was changed, but I could not be charged with underage consumption because when I drank alcohol in Florida at age 18, it was legal to drink alcohol in Florida at age 18.

In Florence in Dante’s day, that wasn’t the case. You could be held liable for what you did yesterday, even if it was legal to do that yesterday. In such a society, you can have a lot of stagnation and a lot of chaos.

Dante the Poet says this about extreme factionalism in Florence:

And if thou mind thee well, and see the light,

Thou shalt behold thyself like a sick woman,

Who cannot find repose upon her down,

But by her tossing wardeth off her pain.

(Longfellow 6.148-151)

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PURGATORY: CANTO 5 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/dantes-purgatory-canto-5-retelling-prepurgatory-those-who-repented-while-meeting-violent-sudden-deaths/

PURGATORY: CANTO 6 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/dantes-purgatory-canto-6-retelling-sordello/

PURGATORY: CANTO 7  RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/dantes-purgatory-canto-7-retelling-prepurgatory-the-negligent-princes/

PURGATORY: CANTO 8 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/dantes-purgatory-canto-8/

PURGATORY: CANTO 9 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/dantes-purgatory-canto-9-retelling-prepurgatory-first-prophetic-dream-and-saint-peters-gate/

PURGATORY: CANTO 10 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/dantes-purgatory-canto-10-retelling-first-ledge-pride-purgatory/

PURGATORY: CANTO 11  RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/13/dantes-purgatory-canto-11-retelling-first-ledge-aldobrandesco-oderisi-provenzan/

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET: A Retelling in Prose — Act 1, Scenes 2-3

 — 1.2 —

In his mansion, Old Capulet was planning a party, one that he held annually. He also was hosting Count Paris. A relative of the Prince, Paris would be an important political ally if he would marry Juliet, Old Capulet’s daughter. Paris had come to Old Capulet to see about arranging that marriage.

Old Capulet said to Paris, “I believe that the upcoming days will be peaceful. If I fight, I die. If Old Montague fights, he dies. With such a penalty over our heads, and with Montague and I being so old, it should not be hard for us to keep the peace.”

“Both of you are honorable men of good reputation, and it is a pity that you have feuded,” Paris said. “But will you allow me to marry your daughter, Juliet?”

“I can say only what I have said before,” Old Capulet said. “My daughter is yet a stranger in the world — she is not yet fourteen years old. She will have to be sixteen before I can think of allowing her to get married.”

Paris replied, “Younger than she are happy mothers made.”

Thinking of his much younger wife, Old Capulet said, “And too soon marred are those so early made mothers. All of my other children are dead and buried; Juliet is my only child who is left alive. In her I place my hopes. But woo her, Paris, and win her heart. My consent to the marriage is only part of what is needed. If she agrees to the marriage, I will gladly give my consent.

“Today I am giving a party, one I hold each year. I have invited many guests whom I love, and I invite you to be a welcomed guest. Come to my house tonight. You will see young girls who will seem to be stars that walk on the Earth and light up the night sky from below. After the cold winter come warm April and many beautiful flowers. The young girls you see at my party tonight are as beautiful as April flowers — look at all of them and talk to all of them. Fall in love with the one whom you think most deserves your love. That one may be my daughter, or perhaps you will prefer another girl.”

To a servant, Old Capulet gave a paper, saying, “Go throughout Verona and invite to my party tonight the people whose names are written on this paper. Tell them that I look forward to seeing them.”

To Paris, Old Capulet said, “Come with me.”

Old Capulet and Paris left the room, and the servant said, “Find the people whose names are written here! How can I do that? I can’t read! I have been told that the fisherman should use his pencil, and I have been told that the painter should use his net. I think that’s what I’ve been told, but it doesn’t sound quite right. But how can I use this piece of paper when I can’t read! I must find an educated person.”

Old Capulet had hired extra servants for the feast and dance, and so he did not know that this servant could not read.

The illiterate servant walked out into the street and saw Romeo and Benvolio. He did not recognize them, but they looked as if they could read and so he said, “Just the people I need!”

Benvolio said to Romeo, “To put out one fire, firefighters sometimes start another fire. Seeing the pain of another person sometimes lessens one’s own pain. One evil is sometimes conquered by another evil. Your eyes have been poisoned by the woman you love; to cure that poison, infect your eyes with the poison of the sight of another beautiful woman.”

“Why not simply use aloe vera?” Romeo asked.

“Use aloe vera for what?” Benvolio asked.

“For skinned knees.”

“But I’m not talking about skinned knees!”

“You certainly aren’t talking about anything I am interested in listening to. Your kinds of remedies have nothing to do with my lovesickness.”

Romeo saw the servant eagerly looking at him and asked, “May I help you?”

The servant asked, “Can you read?”

“I can read my own future — I will continue to be miserable.”

“That’s not the kind of reading I mean, sir. Can you read something that is written on a piece of paper?”

“Yes, if what is written is a language that I can read.”

“You are not giving me a strictly straight answer, so I will assume that you do not want to help me,” the servant said, beginning to turn away.

“Wait. Don’t go. I have been joking with you. I really can read.”

The servant handed Romeo the piece of paper and Romeo read the list out loud:

“Signor Martino and his wife and daughters.

“Count Anselm and his beauteous sisters.

“The lady widow of Vitruvio.

“Signor Placentio and his lovely nieces.

“Mercutio and his brother Valentine.

“My uncle Capulet, and his wife and daughters.

“My fair niece Rosaline.

“Livia.

“Signor Valentio and his cousin Tybalt.

“Lucio and the lively Helena.”

Romeo said to the servant, “This is a list of well-known people in the city. Mercutio is a friend of mine, and I have seen Rosaline. What is the list for, if you don’t mind my asking?”

“They are coming up.”

“Up where.”

“To my master’s house, for supper.”

“Whose house?”

“My master’s.”

“I had hoped for more information than that. Apparently, I was not clear enough when I asked my question.”

“I have been joking with you,” the servant said. “Now I will tell you what you want to know. My master is the great and rich Old Capulet, and if you and your friend are not Montagues, feel free to crash the party and drink some wine. Farewell, and God bless.”

The servant left to invite to the party all the people named in the list.

Romeo and Benvolio had been talking, and Romeo had confessed that the woman he loved was Rosaline, whose name appeared on the list of guests to be invited to the Capulet party.

Benvolio said, “The beautiful Rosaline, whom you say you love, will be at the Capulet party. So will many beautiful women of Verona. Go to the party with me, and if you look with unbiased eyes and compare Rosaline’s face with some faces that I shall show you, I will make you think that your swan whom you think is beautiful is actually as ugly as a crow.”

“My eyes worship Rosaline, and if ever my eyes would falsely regard any woman as being more beautiful than she, then let my tears turn into fires,” Romeo said. “My eyes have often drowned in tears and yet they live, but if ever my eyes regard any woman as being more beautiful than Rosaline, then they are clearly heretics and liars and so should be burnt. Can anyone be fairer than Rosaline? No. Since the creation of the world, the Sun, which sees all, has seen none more beautiful than she.”

“Come on,” Benvolio said. “When you saw Rosaline and decided that she was beautiful, she was the only woman present. Your eyes had no one to compare her to. Come to the party and compare Rosaline with some women I shall show you, and you won’t think Rosaline is as beautiful as you think she is now.”

“I will go to the party with you,” Romeo said, “but not to look at any women you seek to show me. I will go to the party so that I can look at Rosaline.”

 — 1.3 —

In a room in Old Capulet’s mansion, Mrs. Capulet and the Nurse were sitting and talking.

“Nurse, where’s my daughter? Call her to come to me.”

“By my virginity when I was only twelve years old,” the Nurse said, “I swear that I have already told her to come here.”

The Nurse called, “Lamb! Ladybird!”

Then she said to herself, “Good Heavens! Where is that girl?”

She called again, “Juliet!”

Juliet entered the room and said to the Nurse, “Here I am. What do you want?”

“Your mother wants to talk to you,” the Nurse said.

“Here I am, Mother. What do you want?”

“We need to talk about something important,” Mrs. Capulet said. “Nurse, step outside for a while. No, wait. Stay here. You should hear what I have to say. You know that Juliet is growing up.”

“I can tell her age unto an hour,” the Nurse said.

“She still is not yet fourteen years old,” Mrs. Capulet said.

“I would stake as a wager fourteen of my teeth — but to my sorrow, I have only four teeth left — that she is not yet fourteen,” the Nurse said. “How long is it now to Lammas-tide — the first of August?”

“A fortnight and odd days,” Mrs. Capulet replied.

“Even or odd, of all days in the year, on Lammas-eve at night Juliet will be fourteen years old,” the Nurse said. “My daughter — God bless Susan’s soul — and Juliet were born on the same day. Susan is with God. She was too good for me. But on Lammas-eve at night Juliet shall be fourteen years old. I remember her infancy and childhood well. It has been eleven years since the earthquake and so eleven years since she was weaned. I was her wet-nurse and fed her Susan’s milk, and on the day of the earthquake I put wormwood on my nipple to make it bitter. You and your husband were then away visiting the city of Mantua. I was sitting with Juliet in the Sun under the dove-house wall. My memory is excellent. Juliet started to suck at my breast, but when she discovered that the nipple was bitter, she grew irritable. That is when the earthquake struck and the dove-house shook. That is the day that my duties as Juliet’s wet-nurse ended. That was eleven years ago, and Juliet was able to stand by herself. Actually, she was able to run and walk by herself, too. The day before the earthquake, she was running and fell forward and cut her forehead. My husband — God bless his soul — said to her, ‘Juliet, you fell forward upon your face, didn’t you? But someday, after you reach puberty, you will fall backward and lie on your back, won’t you, Juliet?’ And I swear that pretty Juliet stopped crying and said, ‘Yes, I will.’”

Mrs. Capulet blushed, knowing that the joke was that Juliet would lie on her back with her knees in the air and her legs parted — and Juliet would not be alone.

The Nurse continued, “It was the funniest thing. If I live to be a thousand years old, I will not forget it. ‘Won’t you fall backward, Juliet?’ my husband asked her. And pretty Juliet stopped crying and said, ‘Yes, I will.’”

“No more of this talk,” Mrs. Capulet said. “Please be quiet.”

“Yes, I will be quiet,” the Nurse said. “But I cannot stop myself from laughing. Pretty Juliet stopped crying and said, ‘Yes, I will fall backward,’ although she had a bump on her forehead from the fall — a bump as big as one of the balls of a rooster. Juliet fell, and she cried, and my husband said to her, ‘You fell forward upon your face, didn’t you, Juliet? But one day you will fall backward and lie on your back, won’t you, Juliet?’ and Juliet stopped crying and said, ‘Yes.’”

Juliet was embarrassed because her mother was present, but if her mother had not been present, she would have laughed.

Juliet said, “Please stop telling that story, Nurse.”

Having told it four times, the Nurse said, “I am done telling the story. You were the prettiest baby I ever nursed, and I hope that I live long enough to see you married.”

“That is exactly what I want to talk about,” Mrs. Capulet said. “Juliet, what do you think about getting married?”

Juliet replied, “It is an honor that I have never dreamed about.”

“An honor,” the Nurse said. She thought, Yes, if Juliet gets married, her husband will be on her.

The Nurse said out loud, “That is a wise remark. I would say that you sucked wisdom from my nipples, but that would be complimenting myself as well as you.”

Mrs. Capulet said to Juliet, “Think about marriage now. Here in Verona, many ladies of esteem younger than you are already mothers. I myself was a mother when I was your age. Let me tell you straight out that the valiant Paris wishes to marry you.”

The Nurse said, “Paris really is a man, Juliet, and such a man! His figure is as perfect as if he were a sculpture.”

“Speaking poetically,” Mrs. Capulet said, “summertime in Verona has not such a flower as Paris.”

“True,” the Nurse said, “Paris is a flower.”

“What do you say, Juliet?” Mrs. Capulet asked. “Do you think you can love Paris? He will attend our party tonight. Look him over carefully. I think you will be pleased by what you see. If he were a book, a pen of beauty would have written it. Examine his features and see how they work together to create a harmonious whole — he is a handsome man. Continue your examination by looking into his eyes. He will make a handsome groom — he lacks only a beautiful bride. A man needs a woman to be complete. He has handsomeness outside and virtues inside, and with you as his wife, he will be complete. As the wife of such a man, you shall share all his virtues and his reputation. Speaking poetically, by having him as your husband, you will make yourself no less.”

The Nurse joked, “Juliet, you will certainly be no less. Women grow by men — they become pregnant!”

“Tell me, Juliet,” Mrs. Capulet said. “Can you learn to return Paris’ love?”

“I will look at him and see if I like him,” Juliet said. “I certainly will not do anything that you do not want me to do.”

A servant entered the room and said to Mrs. Capulet, “The guests have arrived and dinner is supposed to be ready. People are asking for you and for Juliet. Servants in the pantry are cursing the Nurse because she is not there to help. Everything is a mess right now, and I have to go back and serve the food. I beg you, come with me and restore order.”

“We will go with you,” Mrs. Capulet said.

She said to Juliet, “Paris is here now, and he wants you to approve of him as a groom.”

The Nurse said, “Juliet, seek happy nights to happy days. A honeymoon has many happy nights.”

***

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David Bruce: Dante’s PURGATORY: A Discussion Guide — “Canto 5: Prepurgatory — Those Who Repented While Meeting Violent, Sudden Deaths”

Canto 5: Prepurgatory — Those Who Repented While Meeting Violent, Sudden Deaths

  • Which group of repentant sinners does Dante run into in Canto 5 (the third class of the Late Repentant sinners)?

The third group of the Late Repentant consists of those who died a violent death but repented at the last minute. Of course, Manfred fits in well with this group, although he is with the excommunicated.

This group must wait to begin purging their sins. How long? As long as the time they lived. Manfred, of course, is with the excommunicated, and apparently he must wait a time at least as long as the time he was excommunicated.

  • Write a short character analysis of Buonconte of Montefeltro.

Many of the sinners in Antepurgatory have interesting relationships with sinners whom we saw in the Inferno. For example, the father of Buonconte of Montefeltro is Guido da Montefeltro. Their stories are very different.

Guido da Montefeltro thought that he was going to Paradise, and Saint Francis even came for his soul, but a black devil intervened and pointed out that Guido had not truly repented his sins. So at the last moment, his soul was snatched into Hell.

Buonconte of Montefeltro, however, called on Mary’s name at the last moment of his life, and so at the last moment he truly repented his sins and therefore he will eventually be in Paradise.

Note that Buonconte of Montefeltro was a Ghibelline, and he will make it into Paradise. Dante is not keeping his enemies out of Paradise.

By the way, “da” means “of.” Guido da Montefeltro means Guido of Montefeltro. In other words, the person meant is a Guido who lived in Montefeltro.

  • Compare the repentance of Buonconte of Montefeltro with the “repentance” of his father Guido in Inferno27.

Guido attempted to scam God with a fake repentance. Pope Boniface VIII scammed Guido into going back to his evil ways.

Buonconte’s repentance is sincere. He utters one sincere word with his last breath, and that is enough to save him. The devil that comes to collect Buonconte’s soul is angry and abuses his corpse, but the corpse is not important — the soul is.

By comparing and contrasting the “repentance” of Guido and the repentance of Buonconte, we are able to see how repentance works. Repentance must be sincere; no one gets away with trying to scam God.

This shows that you really have to read both Purgatoryand Paradisein addition to Inferno. Just reading the Infernowill not give you the whole story.

  • Do your family connections determine where you will end up in the afterlife?

We see Manfred in Prepurgatory and his father, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, in the Inferno.

We see Buonconte in Prepurgatory and his father, Guido, in the Inferno.

Both Manfred and Buonconte will be in Paradise one day.

Family connections do not determine whether you make it to Paradise. What does determine whether you make it to Paradise is whether you sincerely repent your sins.

  • Write a short character analysis of La Pia.

La Pia makes a big impact in six lines of speech:

“Oh, please, when you are in the world again,

and are quite rested from your journey here,”

a third soul, following on the second, said,

“Oh, please remember me! I am called Pia.

Siena gave me life, Maremma death,

as he knows who began it when he put

his gem upon my finger, pledging faith.”

(Musa 5.130-136)

La Pia is courteous. She wants Dante to remember her afterhe is rested from his journey. La Pia is simply a charming character.

  • Compare and contrast La Pia (Purgatory5) and Francesca (Inferno5).

Very often Dante will set up comparisons. Here Canto 5 in the Infernoand Canto 5 in the Purgatoryare meant to be compared and contrasted. La Pia and Francesca da Rimini are very different. This kind of linkage is deliberate on Dante’s part.

Similarities

  • Francesca da Rimini and La Pia are both women in the afterlife.
  • Francesca da Rimini and La Pia both appear in the 5th cantos of the canticle each appears in.
  • Francesca da Rimini and La Pia both speak elegantly.
  • Apparently, both Francesca da Rimini and La Pia were caught in adultery and killed by their husbands. Or in La Pia’s case, her husband thoughtshe was committing adultery and killed her.

Differences

  • A major difference, of course, is that La Pia sincerely repented her sins.
  • A major difference, of course, is that Francesca is in the Inferno, while La Pia is in Antepurgatory.
  • Francesca speaks about her husband and puts him in Caina — her message is that the SOB is going to get his. La Pia mentions her husband, but does not say what his sin is — apparently he thought that she was committing adultery and so he had her killed.
  • Francesca puts herself at the center of the universe, while La Pia is self-effacing. La Pia wants Dante to rest first, and then remember her.
  • Francesca uses many, many flowery, elegant words, while La Pia’s speech is elegant but very brief.

Note

Very few women speak in theInfernoand in the Purgatory. Francesca da Rimini spoke in the Inferno, and now in the Purgatorya second woman speaks in The Divine Comedy. Later, of course, Beatrice will speak many lines in the Purgatoryand the Paradise. Women will play a much greater role in the Forest of Eden at the top of the Mountain of Purgatory and in Paradise.

  • Many souls low in the Inferno do not want to reveal their names to Dante the Pilgrim, while many souls in Purgatory want to reveal their names to Dante. Why?

One reason, of course, is that souls in Purgatory will benefit from prayers that are said for them. We do pray for the souls of deceased loved ones, and if we are pure of heart, our prayers will be heard in Heaven.

Another reason is that the souls in the lowest circles of the Inferno do not want to be remembered for the great sins they have committed. The souls in Purgatory want their loved ones to know that the souls in Purgatory will make it to Paradise.

***

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PURGATORY: CANTO 2 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/04/dantes-purgatory-canto-2-retelling-ew-souls-arrive-in-purgatory/

PURGATORY: CANTO 3 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/dantes-purgatory-canto-3-retelling-prepurgatory-the-excommunicated/

PURGATORY: CANTO 4 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/06/dantes-purgatpry-canto-4-retelling-prepurgatory-the-spiritually-lazy-purgatory/

PURGATORY: CANTO 5 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/07/dantes-purgatory-canto-5-retelling-prepurgatory-those-who-repented-while-meeting-violent-sudden-deaths/

PURGATORY: CANTO 6 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/08/dantes-purgatory-canto-6-retelling-sordello/

PURGATORY: CANTO 7  RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/09/dantes-purgatory-canto-7-retelling-prepurgatory-the-negligent-princes/

PURGATORY: CANTO 8 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/dantes-purgatory-canto-8/

PURGATORY: CANTO 9 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/11/dantes-purgatory-canto-9-retelling-prepurgatory-first-prophetic-dream-and-saint-peters-gate/

PURGATORY: CANTO 10 RETELLING

https://davidbruceblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/12/dantes-purgatory-canto-10-retelling-first-ledge-pride-purgatory/

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DIVINE COMEDY KINDLE EBOOK

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David Bruce: William Shakespeare’s ROMEO AND JULIET: A Retelling in Prose — Cast of Characters, Prologue, and Act 1, Scene 1

Cast of Characters

Juliet — Capulet’s daughter


Romeo — Montague’s son


Mercutio — Kinsman to the Prince of Verona and friend of Romeo


Tybalt — Lady Capulet’s nephew and Juliet’s cousin


The Nurse — Juliet’s nursemaid


Friar Lawrence — A brother of the Franciscan order and Romeo’s confessor


Capulet — Juliet’s father


Paris — A noble kinsman to the Prince


Benvolio — Montague’s nephew


Lady Capulet — Juliet’s mother


Montague — Romeo’s father


Balthasar — Romeo’s servant


Apothecary — a chemist
(pharmacist)

Escalus — the Prince of Verona

Friar John — A brother of the Franciscan order


Lady Montague — Romeo’s mother


Peter — A Capulet servant attending the Nurse


Abram — A servant to Montague


Sampson — Servant of the Capulet household


Gregory — Servant of the Capulet household

Prologue

The Capulets and the Montagues — two families, very much alike in most respects — in the beautiful city of Verona, Italy, battle each other because of a long-standing feud. Because of this feud, the hands of the citizens of Verona become dirty with the blood of other citizens of Verona. The two families have given birth to two children — a boy named Romeo and a girl named Juliet — who become ill-fated lovers and commit suicide. The burial of these lovers also buries the quarrel between their two families. These lovers’ story is told in this book.

 — 1.1 —

On a street of Verona, Samson and Gregory, two servants of the Capulet family, walked and talked. They wore swords and carried small, round shields. Samson was in a mood to boast about his masculinity, and both were in a mood to make jokes.

Sampson said, “Gregory, you and I are not the type to take insults lightly.”

Gregory replied, “Neither of us is a lightweight.”

“If anyone should make us angry and choleric, we would draw our swords.”

“I definitely recommend that you not be collared by the city guards.”

Sampson said, “When I am moved by anger, I strike quickly with my sword.”

Gregory replied, “True, but it is best to not be quickly moved to strike.”

“Any member of the family of Montague can quickly move me to anger.”

“To quickly move is to run. A courageous man will stand and face the enemy. Are you telling me that when you meet a Montague you will run away?”

Sampson said, “A male Montague will move me to anger and a female Montague will make a certain part of my body move to make a stand. If we meet a Montague man on the street, I will make the Montague man walk in the gutter while I walk next to this wall.”

Gregory replied, “Doesn’t that mean that you are weak? The weaker sex walks on the side away from the street while the stronger sex walks next to the street. Members of the weaker sex will walk next to this wall.”

“You talk truthfully. Women are weak and need to be specially treated. If we meet a Montague man, I will push him into the gutter. But if we meet a Montague woman, I will nail her ass to this wall.”

“This feud is between the heads of the Capulets and the Montagues. And yet, the feud extends between other members of the two families and even to servants such as us.”

Sampson replied, “So be it. I will act like a tyrant. I will fight the Montague men, and then I will cruelly cut off the heads of the Montague maidens.”

“The heads of the maidens?” Gregory asked.

“Yes, the heads of the maidens, or better, I will break their maidenheads. Take it either way, but while I am alive, let no Montague hymen be unbroken.”

“If the Montague maidens take it, they will feel it inside them.”

Sampson said, “I will stand and deliver. Part of me will stand up, and I will deliver it to the Montague maidens. What I will deliver to the Montague maidens is a pretty piece of flesh.”

“It is good that you are flesh and not fish,” Gregory said. “If you were fish, you would be dried fish — dried and shriveled up.”

Gregory saw Abraham and Balthasar, two servants of the Montague family, and said to Samson, “Draw your sword. Here come two Montagues.”

“My naked sword is out of its scabbard, but if these two Montagues were Montague women and not Montague men, my sword is not the naked tool I would now be displaying. Pick a quarrel with these Montagues — I have your back.”

“In what way? Will you turn your back and run?”

“Don’t worry.”

“As long as I have youat my back, I worry.”

Sampson said, “Let’s not break the law. Let them start a quarrel.”

“I will frown as I pass by them,” Gregory said. “They can take it as they wish.”

“That’s not enough,” Samson said. “I will rub my nose with my middle finger. If they don’t start a fight, they will be thought to be cowardly.”

As Abraham and Balthasar neared them, Samson pulled his fingers into a fist, extended his middle finger, and rubbed the tip of his nose while staring at the Montague servants.

Abraham asked angrily, “Are you giving us the finger?”

“I am indeed giving the finger,” Samson replied.

“Yes, I can see that you are,” Abraham said, “but are you giving usthe finger?”

Samson asked Gregory, “Is the law on our side, if I say yes?”

“No,” Gregory replied.

Samson said to the Montague servants, “No, I am not giving you the finger, but I am giving the finger.”

Gregory said to the Montague servants, “Are you picking a fight with us?”

“A fight?” Abraham said. “No.”

“If you want to fight, I will fight you,” Sampson said. “My boss is as good as yours.”

“He is no better,” Abraham said.

Gregory said, “Say that our boss is better than his boss. I see a reinforcement coming: Benvolio, a relative of our boss.”

“You are wrong,” Samson said to Abraham. “Our boss is better than your boss.”

“You lie!” Abraham shouted.

“Draw your swords if you are men,” Sampson said. “Gregory, get ready to fight — you know how to cut and slash with your sword.”

Benvolio, a peacemaker, drew his sword and tried to stop the fight. He shouted, “Part, fools! Put up your swords; you know not what you do!” He used his sword to beat down their swords.

Tybalt, a Montague, came running with his sword drawn and said to Benvolio, “You have drawn your sword among these stupid servants. Turn, and face a worthy opponent. Turn, and face your death.”

“I do but try to keep the peace,” Benvolio said. “Put up your sword, or use it to help me separate these quarreling men.”

“What! You have drawn your sword, and you are talking about being a peacekeeper!” Tybalt mocked. “I hate the word ‘peace’ as I hate Hell, all Montagues, and you. Let’s fight, coward!”

Tybalt and Benvolio fought.

News of the fight spread quickly, and soon several Capulets and Montagues came running and started to fight. Some guards — officers of the law — also arrived.

A guard shouted, “Beat down the weapons of both the Capulets and the Montagues! Stop this fight!”

Old Capulet, the head of the Capulet family, heard the commotion. Still in his nightgown, he ran out of his house and shouted, “What noise is this? Give me my long sword!”

His much younger wife, Mrs. Capulet, said to him, “Why are you asking for a sword? You can get much more use out of a crutch!”

Old Capulet repeated, “Bring me my sword, I say! Old Montague has come, and he has drawn his blade in defiance of me.”

Old Montague and his wife arrived on the scene. Old Montague shouted, “Old Capulet, you are a villain!”

His wife grabbed onto him. He shouted at her, “Hold me not! Let me go!”

She told him, “You shall not stir a foot to seek a foe.”

The Prince of Verona and his armed bodyguards rode into the street. Prince Escalus wanted a peaceful city, and he was determined to have one, even if he had to threaten to torture and kill some people to get peace.

The Prince shouted, “Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace, you who coat your steel swords with your neighbors’ blood, listen to me! Either throw your weapons to the ground or be sentenced to death by torture.”

They threw down their weapons. The Prince was the ruler of the city, and if he ordered his bodyguards to kill someone, his bodyguards would instantly obey him.

The Prince continued, “Three brawls in the street have disturbed the peace of our city. Three brawls that were caused by words that dissipated into the air — words spoken by you, Old Capulet, and by you, Old Montague. Your airy words have caused you two old men of Verona to put aside your dignified and appropriate behavior and caused you to wield old weapons in your old hands. You are putting weapons that are rusty with peace and disuse in your arthritic hands to serve your hatred of each other. Listen to what I decree: If ever you or your families fight in our streets again, you will pay for your crime with your lives: If you fight, you die!

“Old Capulet, come with me now. Old Montague, come to me this afternoon. Meet me in old Freetown, the court where I make judgments.

“All of you, I order you to leave here. Leave peacefully and immediately, or die.”

Everyone left. Old Montague, his wife, and Benvolio walked away slowly together.

Old Montague asked Benvolio, “What happened? Who caused this newest fight in our ancient feud? Were you here when it happened?”

“Before I arrived, servants of the Capulet family and servants of our family were already fighting,” Benvolio said. “I drew my sword in an attempt to part them and reestablish the peace. But Tybalt of the Capulet family came running with his sword drawn. He shouted his hatred of me and other Montagues while he swung his sword around his head. His sword did not hurt the air, which hissed at him in scorn. Tybalt talks a good fight, but his talking is better than his fighting. He and I fought, and more and more people arrived and began fighting either for the Capulets or for our side. The Prince then arrived and stopped the fighting.”

Mrs. Montague said, “Where is my son, Romeo? Have you seen him? I am glad that he was not fighting here.”

“An hour before sunrise, I took a walk because my mind was troubled,” Benvolio said. “I saw your son walking in a grove of sycamore trees to the West of the city. I was walking toward him, but he saw me and walked away. I could tell that he wished to be alone, as did I. I did not go to him.”

Old Montague said, “Romeo has often been seen there before sunrise. His tears fall and are added to the morning dew. But as soon as the Sun begins to rise, my melancholy son returns home and shuts himself up alone in his room. He closes the windows and shuts out the sunlight, turning what should be a brightly lit room into an artificial night. His mood will stay black and ominous unless someone can find out what is bothering him.”

“My noble uncle, do you know the cause of Romeo’s depression?”

“I don’t know the cause, and he won’t tell me what is bothering him.”

“Have you tried to find out?”

“Yes, I have asked him,” Old Montague said. “So have many of my friends. But he keeps his thoughts private and won’t talk to us. His depression is like a worm that bites the bud of a flower and keeps it from spreading its petals and displaying its beauty to the Sun. I want to know what is bothering him so I can fix the problem.”

Benvolio said, “I see Romeo walking toward us now. Let me be alone with him. I will do everything I can to find out what is bothering him.”

Old Montague replied, “Good luck. I hope that he tells you what is making him depressed.”

He then said to his wife, “Let’s go away and leave Benvolio and our son alone.”

They left, and Benvolio walked toward Romeo.

“Good morning, Romeo,” Benvolio said.

“Is it still morning?”

“The clock just now struck nine.”

“Sad hours seem long,” Romeo said. “Was that my father who left just now?”

“Yes, it was. What sadness makes your hours seem long?”

“My sadness is that I do not have the thing that if I had it would make my hours seem short.”

“You sound as if you are in love,” Benvolio said.

“Out —”

“Of love?”

“Out of the favor of the person I love.”

“Being in love seems like a good thing, but all too often love is harsh.”

“Love is supposed to be blind, but it has made me its bitch — so, where do you want to eat?”

Benvolio was wise enough not to smile, but he thought, Romeo can’t be very deeply in love if he can still think of his stomach instead of the woman who does not love him although he thinks he loves her.

Romeo noticed blood on the ground and said, “Who has been fighting here? Don’t tell me. I can guess. It’s the feud. Here has been a battle among men who hate each other but love to fight each other. Here has been brawling love and loving hate. With these men, love and hate are entwined with each other. We might as well talk of creating something out of nothing! We might as well talk of heavy lightness and serious vanity! We might as well talk of beautiful forms that look ugly! We might as well talk of lead feathers and bright smoke and cold fire and sick health! We might as well talk of still-waking sleep. These fighting men know nothing of love. The love I feel makes me feel no love for this brawl.

“Benvolio, are you laughing at me?”

“No, Romeo. Instead, I weep.”

“Why?”

“Because you are unhappy.”

Romeo said, “Unhappiness is often the consequence of love. I have griefs to bear in my heart, and yet your grief becomes added to my griefs, although I already have too much grief to bear. What is love? Love is a smoke that rises with the sighs of lovers. When love is returned, you can see a fire burning in both lovers’ eyes. When love is refused, a sea is created with the rejected lover’s tears. What else is love? It is a most intelligent madness. It is a thing that chokes, and it is a thing that tastes sweet. Farewell, Benvolio.”

“Wait!” Benvolio said. “I will go with you. If you leave me now, you do me wrong.”

“I have lost myself,” Romeo said. “I am not Romeo — he is some other where.”

“Be serious,” Benvolio said, “and tell me who it is you love.”

“Shall I groan and tell you?”

“You need not groan,” Benvolio said, “but be serious and do tell me who it is you love.”

“‘Serious’ is a word that ought not to be used in front of a dying man who needs to make a will,” Romeo said, “but seriously, Benvolio, I love a woman.”

“When you said you loved someone, I did indeed think you loved a woman. I know you that well. Tell me more.”

“When you thought I loved a woman, you hit a bull’s-eye,” Romeo said. “She is indeed beautiful.”

“I have hit another bull’s-eye,” Benvolio said. “I also thought that she would be beautiful. If she is the target of your love, what kind of a marksman have you been?”

“The worst possible,” Romeo replied. “She is a target who will not allow herself to be hit with the arrow of Cupid. She wants nothing to do with romantic love. She is a follower of Diana, a virgin goddess, and she wishes, like Diana, always to remain a virgin. She vigilantly defends her chastity and wears metaphorical armor that defends her body from the arrows of Cupid. She will not listen to loving compliments. She ignores loving looks. She will not open her lap to receive gifts of saint-seducing gold. She is rich with beauty, but when she dies her beauty will be buried with her.”

“Then she has sworn always to remain a virgin?”

“She has, indeed,” Romeo said, “and so she is wasting her beauty. By remaining forever a virgin, she will never give birth to a daughter who will inherit her beauty. She is too beautiful and too intelligent and too fashionable to be allowed into Paradise after refusing to return my love. She should not receive eternal bliss as a result of making me despair. She has sworn never to love, and that is something she should never have sworn. By doing so, she has killed the best part of me, leaving only a husk to tell you my story.”

“Take my advice,” Benvolio said. “Forget about her.”

“Tell me how it is possible to do that.”

“Simply allow your eyes to look at other beautiful women.”

“If I do that, I will only remember the more her beauty,” Romeo said. “At masked balls, women put masks over their face but we remember that beauty lies underneath the mask. A man who goes blind will still remember the beauty that he has seen. Show me a beautiful woman, and I will simply remember the woman I love — a woman who is more beautiful than any woman you show me. You cannot teach me how to forget my love, so farewell, Benvolio.”

Romeo left, and Benvolio said, “You think I cannot teach how to forget your love, but I think I can.”

He walked after Romeo.

***

Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved

***

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