Read Shakespeare’s ‘The Clock Struck Nine When I Did Send The Nurse’ soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.
‘The Clock Struck Nine When I Did Send The Nurse’, Spoken by Juliet, Act 2 Scene 5
The clock struck nine when I did send the nurse;
In half an hour she promised to return.
Perchance she cannot meet him: that’s not so.
O, she is lame! love’s heralds should be thoughts,
Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams,
Driving back shadows over louring hills:
Therefore do nimble-pinion’d doves draw love,
And therefore hath the wind-swift Cupid wings.
Now is the sun upon the highmost hill
Of this day’s journey, and from nine till twelve
Is three long hours, yet she is not come.
Had she affections and warm youthful blood,
She would be as swift in motion as a ball;
My words would bandy her to my sweet love,
And his to me:
But old folks, many feign as they were dead;
Unwieldy, slow, heavy and pale as lead.
‘The Clock Struck Nine When I Did Send The Nurse’ Soliloquy Translation
Juliet could see by the way the sun hung over the distant hill that it was twelve o’clock. Her Nurse had been gone three hours! She had promised to return in half an hour.
Perhaps she hadn’t found him! No, that couldn’t be. Oh, Nurse. was pathetic. The messengers oflove should be as light as thoughts, traveling ten times faster than sunbeams, pushing all doubts and fears away, as light does to threatening shadows. That’s why Love’s coach is always drawn by swiftly flying doves: that’s why Cupid has wings!
If her Nurse had any feelings – any passion whatsoever – her message would travel as fast as a tennis ball. The Nurse would be the ball. Juliet would serve and Romeo would return it just as fast. But like all old people, the Nurse might as well be dead. She was clumsy, slow, heavy and dull, like lead.
Juliet stuck her head out of the window every few seconds, searching the alleyway along which the Nurse would come.