Romeo and Juliet: A Verse Translation


My verse translation of Romeo and Juliet matches Shakespeare's play line-by-line with the same syntactic complexity and vocabulary range as the original. All blank verse lines remain in verse with accurate and authentic iambic pentameter.


Play Statistics

  Unique words in original: 3,655

  Unique words in translation: 3,775



  from Act One, Scene Four



I dreamt a dream last night.


                                                  And so did I.


Well, what was yours?


                                       That dreamers often lie.


In bed asleep, while things they dream are true.


O, then, I see Queen Mab has been with you,

The midwife of the fairies, and she comes

No bigger than the carvings on a ring

On the fore-finger of an alderman,

Drawn by a team of little miniatures

Across men’s noses as they lie asleep.

Her wagon-spokes are made of spider legs;

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers;

The harness, of the smallest spinner’s web;

The collars, of the moonlight’s watery beams;

Her whip, of cricket bones; the lash, of thread;

Her wagoneer, a small gray-coated gnat,

Not half as big as some round little mite

Pricked from the eyebrow of a lazy maid.

Her chariot’s an empty hazel-nut,

Chiseled by squirrels and bored out by old grubs,

The fairies’ coachmakers, since time began.

She gallops in such splendor night by night

Through lovers’ brains, and then they dream of love;

Past courtiers’ knees, who then will dream of bowing,

Past lawyers’ fingers, who then dream of fees;

Past ladies’ lips, who dream of being kissed,

Which angry Mab will often plague with sores,

Because their breath’s polluted by sweet treats.

Sometimes she gallops past that courtier’s nose,

And dreams he gets to press his patron’s suit.

And sometimes with a pig’s tail she will come,

Tickling a parson’s nose when he’s asleep,

And then he dreams he gets a different post.

Sometimes she rides above a soldier’s neck,

And then he dreams of cutting foreign throats,

Of ambushes, breached walls, and Spanish blades,

Of drinks he quaffs five gallons deep, but soon

Drums in his ear will make him flinch and wake,

And, terrified, he says a prayer or two,

And sleeps again. This is the same Queen Mab

Who snarls the manes of horses in the night,

And twists the knots in foul and sluttish hair—

Untangle it and much misfortune bodes—

A nightmare who, when maids lie on their backs,

Lays weight on them, to show them how to bear

The load that makes them women of good carriage.

This is she…


             Peace, peace, Mercutio, peace,

Your talk is empty.

© 2004 by Kent Richmond