PRINCE A glooming peace this morning with it brings,
The sun for sorrow will not show his head.
Go hence to have more talk of these sad things;
Some will be pardoned, and some punishèd:
For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.
[Exeunt omnes] (5.3.305-310)
Although morning has broken, there is no sun to be seen. (It is the east, and Juliet is the sun. No sun.) The sun too is in mourning, wrapped in a sombre cloak of clouds. Although there is apparently peace, there will be no celebration. The difficult, heartbroken conversations will continue, until every detail is pieced together, everything possible salvaged. There will be pardon, and punishment. (But there are things that only Romeo and Juliet said and heard and know, that not even we were privy to. They will remain private.)
Unlike the Prologue, this is not a sonnet, and emphatically so; it’s a sestet, the second not-quite-half of a sonnet, concluded with a couplet. We might register the absence, the sense of something missing, of a promised whole that has lost its other half. Versification itself mourns. And now the story has been told, the story which was promised in the Prologue, perhaps even spoken by the Prince himself. To hear it described as a story distances it as something that is told, not seen, especially within the temporal framework the Prince employs here: never was a story…. It’s already receding, into the past tense, into narrative, into art. (Golden statues.) A final couplet, and a familiar one: woe, and Romeo. But – Juliet and her Romeo. Her Romeo. It’s partly about meter, yes, but that final line could as well be this of Juliet and of Romeo. But it’s her Romeo. She claimed him, and remade him – give me my Romeo – and gave him a new name, her Romeo, and husband, and friend, and my lord. And she gave him herself, and a grown-up, tender, playful version of himself – and both of them, just briefly, an us.
This is the last scheduled instalment of a blog that began on 1 January (and has missed only 3 days). I’ll be posting some further reflections over the next days and weeks, both here and on Twitter @starcrossed2018, and would welcome comments.