stainless hood

ROMEO AND JULIET, ACT III, SCENE 2

JULIET:

Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging: such a wagoner
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway’s eyes may wink and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk’d of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play’d for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back.
Come, gentle night, come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.
O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possess’d it, and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy’d: so tedious is this day
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them. O, here comes my nurse,
And she brings news; and every tongue that speaks
But Romeo’s name speaks heavenly eloquence.

The Driver

We’ll cross that river
when we come to it
says the man
who’s crossed 10,000

hooded eyes
stainless steel
reflect the image
of bridges burned

thick scent
smoke and hot steel
diesel
seem to seep
from his pores
dust
from a road
three thousand miles away
fills the creases
of leather boots
that never sit empty
beside the door
of a place called
Home

clouds
seem to stop
in the pale blue sky
if he owns anything
it’s the emptiness
of a road
running long
running out of sight

Get in
he says to an open door
get in it’s time to go
forever isn’t a place
it isn’t a destination

It’s everything

6

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Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging: such a wagoner
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway’s eyes may wink, and Romeo
Leap to these arms untalkt-of and unseen.
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. - Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match,
Play’d for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.
Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night;
For thou wilt lie upon the wings of night
Whiter than new snow on a raven’s back. -
Come, gentle night, - come, loving, black-brow’d night,
Give me my Romeo; and, when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine,
That all the world will be in love with night,
And pay no worship to the garish sun. -

O, I have bought the mansion of a love,
But not possest it; and, though I am sold,
Not yet enjoy’d: so tedious is this day,
As is the night before some festival
To an impatient child that hath new robes
And may not wear them.
— 

Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare (Act 3, Scene 2).

So let me tell you something fascinating about this scene.

Juliet has married Romeo in secret, but they have not yet consummated their marriage. She’s waiting at her house for nightfall, which is when Romeo will come to her and they will finally have sex. Juliet is very giddy about the prospect, comparing herself to “an impatient child that hath new robes / And may not wear them.”

You might be familiar with the lines I have italicised (this is a very famous speech, after all), but there is something curious about these words: if you look up this bit in other editions of Romeo and Juliet, you will see that some of them have replaced the word “he” with “I” (making it “when I shall die”).

You may think: “wait, but that doesn’t make any sense. Why would he be cut into pieces when she dies?” Well, in early modern times, sex was associated with death; some believed that each orgasm shortened a man’s life by a day. So you could argue that, in a speech that is all about how badly Juliet wants to have sex with Romeo, she is actually talking about her own “death” at his hand (insert suggestive eyebrow wiggle here).

We don’t actually know whether Shakespeare wrote “I” or “he” in his original document, because not a single manuscript has survived. The earliest publications all say something different: some say “I”, some say “he.” It definitely doesn’t help that early modern publication was notoriously inconsistent (no first folio is the same!) and editors felt free to make changes wherever they thought a few tweaks were necessary.

So take out your own copy of Romeo and Juliet and look up these lines. What does your edition say? And which option would you choose?

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JULIET CAPULET

Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds,
Towards Phoebus’ lodging: such a wagoner 
As Phaethon would whip you to the west,
And bring in cloudy night immediately.
Spread thy close curtain, love-performing night,
That runaway’s eyes may wink and Romeo
Leap to these arms, untalk’d of and unseen. 
Lovers can see to do their amorous rites
By their own beauties; or, if love be blind,
It best agrees with night. Come, civil night,
Thou sober-suited matron, all in black,
And learn me how to lose a winning match, 
Play’d for a pair of stainless maidenhoods:
Hood my unmann’d blood, bating in my cheeks,
With thy black mantle; till strange love, grown bold,
Think true love acted simple modesty.