A line-by-line translation

All's Well That Ends Well

All's Well That Ends Well Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter COUNTESS and Steward

COUNTESS

Alas! and would you take the letter of her?Might you not know she would do as she has done,By sending me a letter? Read it again.

COUNTESS

Oh no! And you took the letter from her? Didn't you figure out what she was going to do when she gave you a letter to send to me? Read it again. 

STEWARD

[Reads] I am Saint Jaques' pilgrim, thither gone: Ambitious love hath so in me offended, That barefoot plod I the cold ground upon, With sainted vow my faults to have amended. Write, write, that from the bloody course of war My dearest master, your dear son, may hie: Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far His name with zealous fervor sanctify: His taken labours bid him me forgive; I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth From courtly friends, with camping foes to live, Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth: He is too good and fair for death and me: Whom I myself embrace, to set him free.

STEWARD

[Reading] "I am a pilgrim of Saint Jaques, gone on a pilgrimage. My love for a man above my station has caused so much pain that I will walk the cold ground barefoot and try to make amends for my faults with prayers to the saints. Write, write to my dearest husband, your dear son, so that he can leave the war as soon as possible. He can come home to live in peace with your blessing while I wander far away to pray and honor his name. Ask him to forgive me for forcing him to go to war. It's because of me, his wicked Juno, that he left his friends at court, taking up camp closer to his enemies, where great men are pursued by death and danger. He is too good and just for me and for death. Now I embrace death myself in order to set him free." 

COUNTESS

Ah, what sharp stings are in her mildest words! Rinaldo, you did never lack advice so much, As letting her pass so: had I spoke with her, I could have well diverted her intents, Which thus she hath prevented.

COUNTESS

Oh, how sharply even her mildest words sting me! Rinaldo, you've never made such an awful mistake as letting her leave like this. If I had spoken with her, I could have changed her mind, but she's prevented me from interfering this way. 

STEWARD

Pardon me, madam: If I had given you this at over-night, She might have been o'erta'en; and yet she writes, Pursuit would be but vain.

STEWARD

I'm sorry, madam. If I had given this to you in the middle of the night, she might have been overtaken. At the same time, she writes that pursuing her would be in vain. 

COUNTESS

What angel shall Bless this unworthy husband? he cannot thrive, Unless her prayers, whom heaven delights to hear And loves to grant, reprieve him from the wrath Of greatest justice. Write, write, Rinaldo, To this unworthy husband of his wife; Let every word weigh heavy of her worth That he does weigh too light: my greatest grief. Though little he do feel it, set down sharply. Dispatch the most convenient messenger: When haply he shall hear that she is gone, He will return; and hope I may that she, Hearing so much, will speed her foot again, Led hither by pure love. Which of them both Is dearest to me, I have no skill in sense To make distinction. Provide this messenger. My heart is heavy and mine age is weak. Grief would have tears, and sorrow bids me speak.

COUNTESS

What angel will bless this unworthy husband of hers? He cannot expect salvation, unless her prayers, which God will delight to hear and surely will grant, save him from damnation. Write, write, Rinaldo, to Helena's unworthy husband. In every word, make it clear how much she's worth and how little he values her. That's my greatest sorrow. He won't care much, but write it down harshly. Then get the fastest messenger. When he hears that she's gone, he'll happily come back. I really do hope that when she hears he's come home, she'll run back to him, spurred on by her pure love. I really couldn't say which of Helena and Bertram is dearest to me. Go get this messenger. My heart is heavy and I'm feeling my age. Such grief demands my tears, and this sorrow compels me to speak my mind. 

Exeunt

All s well that ends well
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Dan rubins
About the Translator: Dan Rubins

Dan Rubins is currently completing his MA in Shakespeare Studies from King's College London/Shakespeare's Globe and will be pursuing an MA in Elementary Inclusive Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. He holds a BA in English from Yale University. His Masters dissertation focuses on announcements of death in early modern drama, and other research areas of interest include Shakespeare in transformative contexts (prisons, schools, etc.) and rhyme in Shakespeare's dramatic texts. In addition to teaching and learning, he also writes theatre reviews (often of Shakespeare productions), composes musical theatre (frequently with Shakespearean inspirations), and sings in choirs (occasionally in Shakespearean choral settings).