A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Two watchmen, BARNARDO and FRANCISCO, enter.

BARNARDO

Who’s there?

BARNARDO

Who’s there?

FRANCISCO

Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

FRANCISCO

No, you answer me. Stop and reveal yourself.

BARNARDO

Long live the king!

BARNARDO

Long live the king!

FRANCISCO

Barnardo?

FRANCISCO

Barnardo?

BARNARDO

He.

BARNARDO

Yes, me.

FRANCISCO

You come most carefully upon your hour.

FRANCISCO

You arrived right on schedule.

BARNARDO

‘Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.

BARNARDO

The clock just struck twelve. Go to bed, Francisco.

FRANCISCO

For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis bitter cold,And I am sick at heart.

FRANCISCO

Thanks for relieving me. It’s bitterly cold, and I’m miserable.

BARNARDO

Have you had quiet guard?

BARNARDO

Has your guard duty been quiet?

FRANCISCO

Not a mouse stirring.

FRANCISCO

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BARNARDO

Well, good night.If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

BARNARDO

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FRANCISCO

I think I hear them.—Stand, ho! Who’s there?

FRANCISCO

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HORATIO and MARCELLUS enter.

HORATIO

Friends to this ground.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

And liegemen to the Dane.

MARCELLUS

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FRANCISCO

Give you good night.

FRANCISCO

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MARCELLUS

O, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?

MARCELLUS

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FRANCISCO

Barnardo has my place. Give you good night.

FRANCISCO

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FRANCISCO exits.

MARCELLUS

Holla, Barnardo.

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

Say what, is Horatio there?

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

A piece of him.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.

BARNARDO

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MARCELLUS

What, has this thing appeared again tonight?

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

I have seen nothing.

BARNARDO

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MARCELLUS

Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy And will not let belief take hold of him Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us. Therefore I have entreated him along With us to watch the minutes of this night, That if again this apparition come He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

Sit down a while And let us once again assail your ears, That are so fortified against our story, What we have two nights seen.

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

Well, sit we down,And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

Last night of all, When yond same star that’s westward from the pole Had made his course t’ illume that part of heaven Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself, The bell then beating one—

BARNARDO

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The GHOST enters.

MARCELLUS

Peace, break thee off. Look where it comes again!

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

In the same figure like the king that’s dead.

BARNARDO

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MARCELLUS

[to HORATIO] Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

It would be spoke to.

BARNARDO

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MARCELLUS

Question it, Horatio.

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

What art thou that usurp’st this time of night Together with that fair and warlike form In which the majesty of buried Denmark Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

It is offended.

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

See, it stalks away.

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!

HORATIO

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The GHOST exits.

MARCELLUS

‘Tis gone and will not answer.

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.Is not this something more than fantasy?What think you on ’t?

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

Before my God, I might not this believeWithout the sensible and true avouchOf mine own eyes.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Is it not like the king?

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

As thou art to thyself. Such was the very armour he had on When he the ambitious Norway combated. So frowned he once when, in an angry parle, He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice. ‘Tis strange.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

In what particular thought to work I know not,But in the gross and scope of mine opinionThis bodes some strange eruption to our state.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Good now, sit down and tell me, he that knows, Why this same strict and most observant watch So nightly toils the subject of the land, And why such daily cast of brazen cannon And foreign mart for implements of war, Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task Does not divide the Sunday from the week. What might be toward, that this sweaty haste Doth make the night joint laborer with the day? Who is ’t that can inform me?

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

That can I. At least, the whisper goes so: our last king, Whose image even but now appeared to us, Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway, Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride, Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet (For so this side of our known world esteemed him) Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact Well ratified by law and heraldry, Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands Which he stood seized of to the conqueror, Against the which a moiety competent Was gagèd by our king, which had returned To the inheritance of Fortinbras Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same covenant And carriage of the article designed, His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras, Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full, Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes, For food and diet, to some enterprise That hath a stomach in ’t, which is no other— As it doth well appear unto our state— But to recover of us, by strong hand And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands So by his father lost. And this, I take it, Is the main motive of our preparations, The source of this our watch, and the chief head Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

I think it be no other but e’en so. Well may it sort that this portentous figure Comes armèd through our watch so like the king That was and is the question of these wars.

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye. In the most high and palmy state of Rome, A little ere the mightiest Julius fell, The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood, Disasters in the sun, and the moist star Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse. And even the like precurse of feared events, As harbingers preceding still the fates And prologue to the omen coming on, Have heaven and earth together demonstrated Unto our climatures and countrymen.

HORATIO

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The GHOST enters.

HORATIO

But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again.I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!

HORATIO

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The GHOST spreads his arms.

HORATIO

If thou hast any sound or use of voice, Speak to me. If there be any good thing to be done That may to thee do ease and grace to me, Speak to me. If thou art privy to thy country’s fate, Which happily foreknowing may avoid, Oh, speak! Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life Extorted treasure in the womb of earth, For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death, Speak of it. Stay and speak!

HORATIO

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A rooster crows.

HORATIO

—Stop it, Marcellus.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

Do, if it will not stand.

HORATIO

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BARNARDO

‘Tis here.

BARNARDO

Lorem ipsu

HORATIO

‘Tis here.

HORATIO

Lorem ipsu

The GHOST exits.

MARCELLUS

‘Tis gone. We do it wrong, being so majestical, To offer it the show of violence, For it is, as the air, invulnerable, And our vain blows malicious mockery.

MARCELLUS

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BARNARDO

It was about to speak when the cock crew.

BARNARDO

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HORATIO

And then it started like a guilty thing Upon a fearful summons. I have heard The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn, Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat Awake the god of day, and, at his warning, Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air, Th’ extravagant and erring spirit hies To his confine, and of the truth herein This present object made probation.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

It faded on the crowing of the cock. Some say that ever ‘gainst that season comes Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated, The bird of dawning singeth all night long. And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad. The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike, No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm, So hallowed and so gracious is that time.

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

So have I heard and do in part believe it. But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad, Walks o’er the dew of yon high eastward hill. Break we our watch up, and by my advice, Let us impart what we have seen tonight Unto young Hamlet, for, upon my life, This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him. Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it, As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning knowWhere we shall find him most conveniently.

MARCELLUS

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They exit.

Hamlet
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.