A line-by-line translation

Cymbeline

Cymbeline Translation Act 2, Scene 2

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

A trunk is carried in. IMOGEN in bed, reading; a Lady attending

IMOGEN

Who's there? my woman Helen?

IMOGEN

Who's there? Is it my attendant Helen?

LADY

Please you, madam

LADY

Yes, ma'am.

IMOGEN

What hour is it?

IMOGEN

What time is it?

LADY

Almost midnight, madam.

LADY

Almost midnight, ma'am.

IMOGEN

I have read three hours then: mine eyes are weak: Fold down the leaf where I have left: to bed: Take not away the taper, leave it burning; And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock, I prithee, call me. Sleep hath seized me wholly

IMOGEN

I have read for three hours, then. My eyes are tired. Fold down the page I stopped at. I'll go to bed. Don't take the candle. Leave it lit. And if you can wake up by four o'clock, please wake me. I'm so tired I'll fall asleep immediately.

Exit Lady

IMOGEN

To your protection I commend me, gods. From fairies and the tempters of the night Guard me, beseech ye.

IMOGEN

Gods, I give myself up to your protection. Save me from fairies and night-time demons, please.

Sleeps. IACHIMO comes from the trunk

IACHIMO

The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense Repairs itself by rest. Our Tarquin thus Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd The chastity he wounded. Cytherea, How bravely thou becomest thy bed, fresh lily, And whiter than the sheets! That I might touch! But kiss; one kiss! Rubies unparagon'd, How dearly they do't! 'Tis her breathing that Perfumes the chamber thus: the flame o' the taper Bows toward her, and would under-peep her lids, To see the enclosed lights, now canopied Under these windows, white and azure laced With blue of heaven's own tinct. But my design, To note the chamber: I will write all down: Such and such pictures; there the window; such The adornment of her bed; the arras; figures, Why, such and such; and the contents o' the story. Ah, but some natural notes about her body, Above ten thousand meaner moveables Would testify, to enrich mine inventory. O sleep, thou ape of death, lie dull upon her! And be her sense but as a monument, Thus in a chapel lying! Come off, come off:

IACHIMO

[To himself] The crickets are singing, and people's tired-out senses are being healed by sleep. Tarquin tiptoed over the floors this way, before he woke up his victim and raped her. Aphrodite, you fresh lily, you look so beautiful on your bed and you're whiter than the sheets! I wish I could touch you! And only kiss you—one kiss! Your lips are like the most beautiful rubies and kiss so delightfully! It's her breath that makes the room smell so good. The flame of the candle leans towards her and wants to look under her eyelids to see the lights closed up inside the windows of her eyes, which are white and the same blue as the sky. But my plan is to take notes about the room. I will write everything down. [He starts taking notes]  There paintings, there a window, her bed is decorated in this way and has a canopy with these things embroidered on it, and what story is being told. Oh, but to make my list better I should add some notes about natural marks on her body. That would be more convincing than describing ten thousand less important objects. Deathlike sleep, keep her lying there! May she feel as little as a carved statue lying in a church!

[To her bracelet]
Come off, come off.

Taking off her bracelet

As slippery as the Gordian knot was hard! 'Tis mine; and this will witness outwardly, As strongly as the conscience does within, To the madding of her lord. On her left breast A mole cinque-spotted, like the crimson drops I' the bottom of a cowslip: here's a voucher, Stronger than ever law could make: this secret Will force him think I have pick'd the lock and ta'en The treasure of her honour. No more. To what end? Why should I write this down, that's riveted, Screw'd to my memory? She hath been reading late The tale of Tereus; here the leaf's turn'd down Where Philomel gave up. I have enough: To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it. Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning May bare the raven's eye! I lodge in fear; Though this a heavenly angel, hell is here.

That was as easy as the Gordian knot was hard! This is mine. Seeing this, added to his own thoughts, will make her husband crazy. On her left breast there's a mole with five spots that look like the red marks on the petals of a cowslip. This is proof stronger than you could ever find in a court of law. My knowing this secret will make him think that I've picked her lock and stolen her honor. I don't need any more. What use would it be? Why would I write this down, when it's nailed into my memory? She was just reading the story of Tereus. The page is dog-eared where Philomel was raped. I have enough proof. I'll get back to the trunk, and shut the lid. Pass quickly, quickly, night, so that it's dawn soon and the birds wake up! I'm scared lying here. Although she's an angel from heaven, this is hell.

Clock strikes

One, two, three: time, time!

One, two, three, strikes. It's time!

Goes into the trunk. The scene closes

Cymbeline
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Cymbeline Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 789 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 18,689 quotes covering 789 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms