Measure for Measure

Act I
Act II
Act IV
Act V
Enter Duke and Friar Thomas


No, holy father, throw away that thought;

Believe not that the dribbling dart of love
dart (n.) arrow; or: light spear

Can pierce a complete bosom. Why I desire thee
complete, compleat (adj.) 2 fully equipped, with everything present

To give me secret harbour hath a purpose
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count

More grave and wrinkled than the aims and ends
aim (n.) 2 target, object, goal
end (n.) 1 purpose, aim, design
grave (adj.) 1 respected, revered, wise

Of burning youth.


                         May your grace speak of it?


My holy sir, none better knows than you

How I have ever loved the life removed
removed (adj.) 1 remote, secluded, further away

And held in idle price to haunt assemblies

Where youth and cost a witless bravery keeps.
bravery (n.) 2 splendour, fine display, ostentation
cost (n.) 1 outlay, expense, expenditure
keep (v.) 4 keep up, maintain, carry on
witless (adj.) stupid, foolish, crazy

I have delivered to Lord Angelo,
deliver (v.) 4 hand over, convey, commit to the keeping [of someone]

A man of stricture and firm abstinence,
stricture (n.) self-constraint, rigour; or: strictness, severity

My absolute power and place here in Vienna,
place (n.) 1 position, post, office, rank See Topics: Frequency count

And he supposes me travelled to Poland,

For so I have strewed it in the common ear,
strew (v.) 1 scatter, broadcast, spread about

And so it is received. Now, pious sir,

You will demand of me why I do this.


Gladly, my lord.


We have strict statutes and most biting laws,

The needful bits and curbs to headstrong weeds,
jade (n.) 1 worn-out horse, hack, worthless nag
weed (n.) 1 (plural) garments, dress, clothes

Which for this fourteen years we have let slip;

Even like an o'ergrown lion in a cave,

That goes not out to prey. Now, as fond fathers,
fond (adj.) 1 foolish, stupid, mad

Having bound up the threatening twigs of birch,

Only to stick it in their children's sight

For terror, not to use, in time the rod

Becomes more mocked than feared, so our decrees,

Dead to infliction, to themselves are dead,
infliction (n.) being inflicted, implementation, enforcement

And liberty plucks justice by the nose;

The baby beats the nurse, and quite athwart
athwart (adv.) 2 askew, awry, out of the normal course

Goes all decorum.


                         It rested in your grace

To unloose this tied-up justice when you pleased,

And it in you more dreadful would have seemed

Than in Lord Angelo.


                         I do fear, too dreadful.

Sith 'twas my fault to give the people scope,
scope (n.) 3 opportunity, liberty, free course of action

'Twould be my tyranny to strike and gall them
gall (v.) 1 vex, annoy, irritate

For what I bid them do: for we bid this be done

When evil deeds have their permissive pass

And not the punishment. Therefore, indeed, my father,

I have on Angelo imposed the office,
office (n.) 1 task, service, duty, responsibility See Topics: Frequency count

Who may, in th' ambush of my name, strike home,

And yet my nature never in the sight

To do it slander. And to behold his sway
sway (n.) 2 controlling influence, guiding power, direction

I will, as 'twere a brother of your order,

Visit both prince and people. Therefore, I prithee,

Supply me with the habit, and instruct

How I may formally in person bear me
bear (v.), past forms bore, borne 1 behave, look, conduct [oneself]

Like a true friar. More reasons for this action

At our more leisure shall I render you;

Only this one – Lord Angelo is precise,
precise (adj.) 1 puritanical, strictly moral, scrupulously correct

Stands at a guard with envy, scarce confesses
envy (n.) 1 malice, ill-will, enmity
guard (n.) 4 [fencing] defensive position, posture of defence

That his blood flows, or that his appetite

Is more to bread than stone. Hence shall we see,

If power change purpose, what our seemers be.
purpose (n.) 1 intention, aim, plan See Topics: Frequency count
seemer (n.) make-believer, pretender, one who assumes a behaviour


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