Read Shakespeare’s ‘What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?’ soliloquy from Romeo and Juliet below with modern English translation and analysis, plus a video performance.
‘What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?’, Spoken by Romeo, Act 2 Scene 2
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.
Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,
Who is already sick and pale with grief,
That thou her maid art far more fair than she:
Be not her maid, since she is envious;
Her vestal livery is but sick and green
And none but fools do wear it; cast it off.
It is my lady, O, it is my love!
O, that she knew she were!
She speaks yet she says nothing: what of that?
Her eye discourses; I will answer it.
I am too bold, ’tis not to me she speaks:
Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
What if her eyes were there, they in her head?
The brightness of her cheek would shame those stars,
As daylight doth a lamp; her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night.
See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!
‘What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks?’ Soliloquy Translation
A light came on in a window.
Perhaps it was her! Lighting the world like the morning sun! She was the sun, so much more beautiful than the goddess of the night, the moon.
As though in answer to his wishes a door opened and she came out on to a balcony.
‘It’s her!’ he whispered. ‘Oh, it’s my love.’
He wished she could know he was there, sitting on the wall, watching her. Her lips were moving but he couldn’t hear what she was saying. Anyway, she couldn’t be talking to him.
As he stared at her he tried to understand how anyone could be so beautiful. It was as though the two most radiant stars in the sky had businesssomewhere else and had begged her eyes to take their place while they were away. It was as though they had changed places and the stars were in her head, her eyes in the heavens.
But even then, the beauty of her cheek would dim those eyes in the same way as daylight overwhelms a lamp. Her eyes would shine so brightly in the heavens that birds would start singing, thinking it was daytime
As he watched she leant her cheek on her hand!
Oh how he wished he could be a glove on that hand so that he could touch that cheek! Oh how .
She sighed loudly
He had to get closer
At any other time he might have hurt himself but now he didn’t even feel the ground as he landed. All he was thinking was that he wanted her to speak again. She was an angel. Wherever she was the night would be lit up.