A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 1, Scene 3

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LAERTES and his sister OPHELIA enter.

LAERTES

My necessaries are embarked. Farewell. And, sister, as the winds give benefit And convey is assistant, do not sleep, But let me hear from you.

LAERTES

My belongings are on the ship. Goodbye. And, sister, as long as the winds are blowing and ships are traveling, make sure to send me news.

OPHELIA

Do you doubt that?

OPHELIA

Do you doubt I will?

LAERTES

For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor, Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood, A violet in the youth of primy nature, Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting, The perfume and suppliance of a minute. No more.

LAERTES

As for Hamlet and the attention he’s given you, consider it no more than a passing thing—the product of his hot-blooded youth. Like a violet, it’s sweet and beautiful, but won’t last more than a single minute.

OPHELIA

No more but so?

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

Think it no more. For nature, crescent, does not grow alone In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes, The inward service of the mind and soul Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now, And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch The virtue of his will, but you must fear. His greatness weighed, his will is not his own, For he himself is subject to his birth. He may not, as unvalued persons do, Carve for himself, for on his choice depends The safety and health of this whole state. And therefore must his choice be circumscribed Unto the voice and yielding of that body Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you, It fits your wisdom so far to believe it As he in his particular act and place May give his saying deed, which is no further Than the main voice of Denmark goes withal. Then weigh what loss your honor may sustain If with too credent ear you list his songs, Or lose your heart, or your chaste treasure open To his unmastered importunity. Fear it, Ophelia. Fear it, my dear sister, And keep you in the rear of your affection, Out of the shot and danger of desire. The chariest maid is prodigal enough If she unmask her beauty to the moon. Virtue itself ’scapes not calumnious strokes. The canker galls the infants of the spring Too oft before their buttons be disclosed. And in the morn and liquid dew of youth, Contagious blastments are most imminent. Be wary, then. Best safety lies in fear. Youth to itself rebels, though none else near.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

I shall the effect of this good lesson keep As watchman to my heart. But, good my brother, Do not, as some ungracious pastors do, Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven Whiles, like a puffed and reckless libertine, Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads And recks not his own rede.

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

O, fear me not.

LAERTES

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POLONIUS enters.

LAERTES

I stay too long. But here my father comes. A double blessing is a double grace. Occasion smiles upon a second leave.

LAERTES

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POLONIUS

Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame! The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail And you are stayed for. There, my blessing with thee. And these few precepts in thy memory Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue, Nor any unproportioned thought his act. Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar. Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried, Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel, But do not dull thy palm with entertainment Of each new-hatched, unfledged comrade. Beware Of entrance to a quarrel, but being in, Bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee. Give every man thy ear but few thy voice. Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment. Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy, But not expressed in fancy—rich, not gaudy, For the apparel oft proclaims the man, And they in France of the best rank and station Are of a most select and generous chief in that. Neither a borrower nor a lender be, For loan oft loses both itself and friend, And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry. This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man. Farewell. My blessing season this in thee.

POLONIUS

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LAERTES

Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.

LAERTES

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POLONIUS

The time invites you. Go. Your servants tend.

POLONIUS

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LAERTES

Farewell, Ophelia, and remember wellWhat I have said to you.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

‘Tis in my memory locked,And you yourself shall keep the key of it.

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

Farewell.

LAERTES

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LAERTES exits.

POLONIUS

What is ’t, Ophelia, he hath said to you?

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.

OPHELIA

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POLONIUS

Marry, well bethought. ‘Tis told me he hath very oft of late Given private time to you, and you yourself Have of your audience been most free and bounteous. If it be so as so ’tis put on me— And that in way of caution—I must tell you, You do not understand yourself so clearly As it behooves my daughter and your honor. What is between you? Give me up the truth.

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

He hath, my lord, of late made many tendersOf his affection to me.

OPHELIA

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POLONIUS

Affection! Pooh, you speak like a green girl,Unsifted in such perilous circumstance.Do you believe his “tenders,” as you call them?

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

I do not know, my lord, what I should think.

OPHELIA

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POLONIUS

Marry, I’ll teach you. Think yourself a baby That you have ta’en these tenders for true pay, Which are not sterling. Tender yourself more dearly, Or—not to crack the wind of the poor phrase, Running it thus—you’ll tender me a fool.

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

My lord, he hath importuned me with loveIn honorable fashion.

OPHELIA

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POLONIUS

Ay, “fashion” you may call it. Go to, go to.

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

And hath given countenance to his speech, my lord,With almost all the holy vows of heaven.

OPHELIA

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POLONIUS

Ay, springes to catch woodcocks. I do know, When the blood burns, how prodigal the soul Lends the tongue vows. These blazes, daughter, Giving more light than heat, extinct in both Even in their promise as it is a-making, You must not take for fire. F rom this time Be somewhat scanter of your maiden presence. Set your entreatments at a higher rate Than a command to parley. For Lord Hamlet, Believe so much in him that he is young, And with a larger tether may he walk Than may be given you. In few, Ophelia, Do not believe his vows, for they are brokers Not of that dye which their investments show, But mere implorators of unholy suits, Breathing like sanctified and pious bawds, The better to beguile. This is for all: I would not, in plain terms, from this time forth, Have you so slander any moment leisure, As to give words or talk with the Lord Hamlet. Look to ’t, I charge you. Come your ways.

POLONIUS

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OPHELIA

I shall obey, my lord.

OPHELIA

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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.