ROMEO Here, here will I remain
With worms that are thy chambermaids; O here
Will I set up my everlasting rest,
And shake the yoke of inauspicious stars
From this world-wearied flesh. (5.3.108-112)
Where is here? in the tomb, this palace of dim night, certainly. But there’s implied action, perhaps: here is in Juliet’s arms, embracing her, resting his head on her shoulder, her breast. To set up his everlasting rest is, partly, to sleep forever, but it’s also a phrase that has been eroticised in the play, when the Nurse spoke of Paris, on his putative wedding night with Juliet, having set up his rest that you shall rest but little. And here it’s also Romeo’s final promise: I will stay with you. The worms that are thy chambermaids is a grisly thought, but one of the things that it’s doing is setting up this speech’s next movement, by bringing a particular close physicality, even a sensuous corporeality, to this moment. Taking it back into the body. And it’s also setting up a contrast between the disgust of the worms, and the terrible, almost transcendent beauty of the yoke of inauspicious stars (give me my Romeo, and when I shall die, take him and cut him out in little stars) – the yoke of ill-fortune, fate, bad luck, which is such a heavy burden, and which here is another way of saying, star-crossed. World-wearied, rather than world-weary: not tired of the world, but worn out by it. Which is a terrible thing to hear a young person say.