I will stay here with you, always (5.3.101-108)

ROMEO                                   Ah, dear Juliet,

                        Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe

                        That unsubstantial death is amorous,

                        And that the lean abhorrèd monster keeps

                        Thee here in dark to be his paramour?

                        For fear of that, I still will stay with thee,

                        And never from this palace of dim night

                        Depart again. (5.3.101-108)

And now Romeo is completely focused, once again, on Juliet, and on what he’s about to do. He is so caught up in his agony, his resolve, and his isolation – even as he addresses himself to Juliet – that he doesn’t consider that his question, Why art thou yet so fair? might have more than one answer. He’s asking it rhetorically – this is so unfair, you’re dead, and you’re still so beautiful – when of course the screaming answer is, because she’s not really dead. But the speech rolls on, its momentum assured by that continued pattern of run-on lines, and sentences beginning on the half-line. Then once again, that mixture of eroticised horror and great tenderness: Juliet is being kept by death (that lean abhorrèd monster – reminiscent of the apothecary) to be death’s own lover. But I’ll stay with you, Romeo promises, I’ll protect you, I won’t let any harm come to you, don’t be afraid (don’t be afraid of the dark). He’s speaking as if to a child with a nightmare, and also to himself, comforting them both. I’ll stay with you, while you sleep, while we sleep. (And it’s a palace, still, because Juliet’s here.)

In the UK,  Samaritans, phone 116 123, jo@samaritans.org and, for young men in particular, CALM, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (for resources, not crisis support).

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