A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 1, Scene 5

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The GHOST and HAMLET enter.

HAMLET

Where wilt thou lead me? Speak, I’ll go no further.

HAMLET

Where are you leading me? Speak. I’m not going any farther.

GHOST

Mark me.

GHOST

Listen to me.

HAMLET

I will.

HAMLET

I will.

GHOST

My hour is almost comeWhen I to sulfurous and tormenting flamesMust render up myself.

GHOST

The hour has almost come when I must return to the torment of the flames of purgatory.

HAMLET

Alas, poor ghost!

HAMLET

Oh no, poor ghost!

GHOST

Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearingTo what I shall unfold.

GHOST

Don’t pity me. But listen carefully to what I have to say.

HAMLET

Speak. I am bound to hear.

HAMLET

Speak. I promise to listen.

GHOST

So art thou to revenge when thou shalt hear.

GHOST

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HAMLET

What?

HAMLET

Lorem

GHOST

I am thy father’s spirit, Doomed for a certain term to walk the night And for the day confined to fast in fires, Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres, Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part And each particular hair to stand on end, Like quills upon the fearful porpentine. But this eternal blazon must not be To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love—

GHOST

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HAMLET

O God!

HAMLET

Lorem i

GHOST

Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

GHOST

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HAMLET

Murder?

HAMLET

Lorem i

GHOST

Murder most foul, as in the best it is.But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

GHOST

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HAMLET

Haste me to know ’t, that I, with wings as swiftAs meditation or the thoughts of love,May sweep to my revenge.

HAMLET

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GHOST

I find thee apt, And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf, Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear. ‘Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard, A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark Is by a forgèd process of my death Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father’s life Now wears his crown.

GHOST

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HAMLET

O my prophetic soul! My uncle?

HAMLET

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GHOST

Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts— O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen. O Hamlet, what a falling off was there! From me, whose love was of that dignity That it went hand in hand even with the vow I made to her in marriage, and to decline Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor To those of mine. But virtue, as it never will be moved, Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven, So lust, though to a radiant angel linked, Will sate itself in a celestial bed And prey on garbage. But soft! Methinks I scent the morning air. Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard, My custom always of the afternoon, Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial, And in the porches of my ears did pour The leperous distilment, whose effect Holds such an enmity with blood of man That swift as quicksilver it courses through The natural gates and alleys of the body And with a sudden vigor doth posset And curd, like eager droppings into milk, The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine. And a most instant tetter barked about, Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust All my smooth body. Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother’s hand Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched, Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin, Unhouseled, disappointed, unaneled. No reckoning made, but sent to my account With all my imperfections on my head. Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible! If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not. Let not the royal bed of Denmark be A couch for luxury and damnèd incest. But howsoever thou pursuest this act, Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once. The glowworm shows the matin to be near, And ‘gins to pale his uneffectual fire. Adieu, adieu, adieu. Remember me.

GHOST

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The GHOST exits.

HAMLET

O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else? And shall I couple hell? Oh, fie! Hold, hold, my heart, And you, my sinews, grow not instant old, But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee! Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat In this distracted globe. Remember thee! Yea, from the table of my memory I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records, All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past That youth and observation copied there, And thy commandment all alone shall live Within the book and volume of my brain, Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven! O most pernicious woman! O villain, villain, smiling, damnèd villain! My tables!—Meet it is I set it down That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain. At least I’m sure it may be so in Denmark. [writes] So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word. It is “Adieu, adieu. Remember me.” I have sworn ’t.

HAMLET

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HORATIO and MARCELLUS enter.

HORATIO

My lord, my lord!

HORATIO

Lorem ipsum dolor

MARCELLUS

Lord Hamlet—

MARCELLUS

Lorem ipsum

HORATIO

Heaven secure him!

HORATIO

Lorem ipsum dolo

HAMLET

So be it.

HAMLET

Lorem ips

HORATIO

Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Hillo, ho, ho, boy. Come, bird, come.

HAMLET

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MARCELLUS

How is ’t, my noble lord?

MARCELLUS

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HORATIO

What news, my lord?

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Oh, wonderful!

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Good my lord, tell it.

HORATIO

Lorem ipsum dolor

HAMLET

No. You’ll reveal it.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Not I, my lord, by heaven.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Nor I, my lord.

MARCELLUS

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HAMLET

How say you, then? Would heart of man once think it?But you’ll be secret?

HAMLET

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HORATIO, MARCELLUS

Ay, by heaven, my lord.

HORATIO, MARCELLUS

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HAMLET

There’s ne’er a villain dwelling in all DenmarkBut he’s an arrant knave.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the graveTo tell us this.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Why, right, you are in the right. And so, without more circumstance at all, I hold it fit that we shake hands and part. You, as your business and desire shall point you— For every man has business and desire, Such as it is—and for my own poor part, Look you, I’ll go pray.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

I’m sorry they offend you, heartily.Yes faith, heartily.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

There’s no offense, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio, And much offense too. Touching this vision here, It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you. For your desire to know what is between us, O’ermaster ’t as you may. And now, good friends, As you are friends, scholars and soldiers, Give me one poor request.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

What is ’t, my lord? We will.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Never make known what you have seen tonight.

HAMLET

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HORATIO, MARCELLUS

My lord, we will not.

HORATIO, MARCELLUS

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HAMLET

Nay, but swear ’t.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

In faith, my lord, not I.

HORATIO

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MARCELLUS

Nor I, my lord, in faith.

MARCELLUS

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HAMLET

Upon my sword.

HAMLET

Lorem ipsum dolor

MARCELLUS

We have sworn, my lord, already.

MARCELLUS

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HAMLET

Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

HAMLET

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GHOST

[cries under the stage] Swear!

GHOST

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HAMLET

Ah, ha, boy! Sayst thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage.Consent to swear.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Propose the oath, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Never to speak of this that you have seen.Swear by my sword.

HAMLET

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GHOST

[beneath] Swear.

GHOST

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HAMLET

Hic et ubique? Then we’ll shift our ground. Come hither, gentlemen, And lay your hands again upon my sword. Swear by my sword Never to speak of this that you have heard.

HAMLET

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GHOST

[beneath] Swear by his sword.

GHOST

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HAMLET

Well said, old mole! Canst work i’ th’ earth so fast?A worthy pioneer! Once more remove, good friends.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HORATIO

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HAMLET

And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come, Here, as before, never, so help you mercy, How strange or odd soe’er I bear myself (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet To put an antic disposition on), That you, at such times seeing me, never shall— With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake, Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase, As “Well, well, we know,” or “We could an if we would,” Or “If we list to speak,” or “There be an if they might,” Or such ambiguous giving out— to note That you know aught of me. This not to do, So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.

HAMLET

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GHOST

[beneath] Swear!

GHOST

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HAMLET

Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit! —So, gentlemen, With all my love I do commend me to you, And what so poor a man as Hamlet is May do, to express his love and friending to you, God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together, And still your fingers on your lips, I pray. The time is out of joint. O cursèd spite, That ever I was born to set it right! Nay, come, let’s go together.

HAMLET

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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.