A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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GERTRUDE and POLONIUS enter.

POLONIUS

He will come straight. Look you lay home to him. Tell him his pranks have been too broad to bear with, And that your grace hath screened and stood between Much heat and him. I’ll silence me even here. Pray you, be round with him.

POLONIUS

He’ll be here right away. Be sure to really yell at him. Tell him his pranks have been too big to ignore, and that you have protected him from feeling the full heat of their consequences. I’ll be silent, right here. Please, be tough with him.

HAMLET

[within] Mother, mother, mother!

HAMLET

[Offstage] Mother, mother, mother!

GERTRUDE

I’ll warrant you. Fear me not. Withdraw, I hear him coming.

GERTRUDE

I’ll do as you say. Don’t worry. Hide, I hear him coming.

POLONIUS hides behind the tapestry.

HAMLET enters.

HAMLET

Now mother, what’s the matter?

HAMLET

Now, mother, what’s the matter?

GERTRUDE

Hamlet, thou hast thy father much offended.

GERTRUDE

Hamlet, you have insulted your father.

HAMLET

Mother, you have my father much offended.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Come, come, you answer with an idle tongue.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Go, go, you question with a wicked tongue.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Why, how now, Hamlet?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

What’s the matter now?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Have you forgot me?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

No, by the rood, not so.You are the queen, your husband’s brother’s wife,And—would it were not so!—you are my mother.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Nay, then I’ll set those to you that can speak.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Come, come, and sit you down. You shall not budge.You go not till I set you up a glassWhere you may see the inmost part of you.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

What wilt thou do? Thou wilt not murder me?Help, help, ho!

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

[from behind the arras] What, ho? Help, help, help!

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

How now, a rat? Dead for a ducat, dead!

HAMLET

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HAMLET stabs his sword through the tapestry and kills POLONIUS

POLONIUS

[from behind the arras] Oh, I am slain.

POLONIUS

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GERTRUDE

O me, what hast thou done?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Nay, I know not. Is it the king?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Oh, what a rash and bloody deed is this!

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

A bloody deed? Almost as bad, good mother,As kill a king and marry with his brother.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

As kill a king?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Ay, lady, ’twas my word.

HAMLET

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HAMLET pulls back the tapestry and discovers POLONIUS

HAMLET

Thou wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell. I took thee for thy better. Take thy fortune. Thou find’st to be too busy is some danger. [to GERTRUDE] Leave wringing of your hands. Peace. Sit you down And let me wring your heart. For so I shall If it be made of penetrable stuff, If damnèd custom have not brassed it so That it is proof and bulwark against sense.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

What have I done, that thou darest wag thy tongueIn noise so rude against me?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Such an act That blurs the grace and blush of modesty, Calls virtue hypocrite, takes off the rose From the fair forehead of an innocent love And sets a blister there, makes marriage vows As false as dicers’ oaths —oh, such a deed As from the body of contraction plucks The very soul, and sweet religion makes A rhapsody of words. Heaven’s face doth glow O’er this solidity and compound mass With tristful visage, as against the doom, Is thought-sick at the act.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Ay me, what actThat roars so loud and thunders in the index?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Look here upon this picture and on this, The counterfeit presentment of two brothers. See, what a grace was seated on this brow? Hyperion’s curls, the front of Jove himself, An eye like Mars to threaten and command, A station like the herald Mercury New-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill— A combination and a form indeed Where every god did seem to set his seal To give the world assurance of a man. This was your husband. Look you now, what follows. Here is your husband, like a mildewed ear Blasting his wholesome brother. Have you eyes? Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed And batten on this moor? Ha, have you eyes? You cannot call it love, for at your age The heyday in the blood is tame, it’s humble, And waits upon the judgment. And what judgment Would step from this to this? Sense sure you have, Else could you not have motion. But sure that sense Is apoplexed, for madness would not err, Nor sense to ecstasy was ne’er so thralled, But it reserved some quantity of choice To serve in such a difference. What devil was ’t That thus hath cozened you at hoodman-blind? Eyes without feeling, feeling without sight, Ears without hands or eyes, smelling sans all, Or but a sickly part of one true sense Could not so mope. O shame, where is thy blush? Rebellious hell, If thou canst mutine in a matron’s bones, To flaming youth let virtue be as wax And melt in her own fire. Proclaim no shame When the compulsive ardor gives the charge, Since frost itself as actively doth burn, And reason panders will.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

O Hamlet, speak no more! Thou turn’st mine eyes into my very soul, And there I see such black and grainèd spots As will not leave their tinct.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Nay, but to live In the rank sweat of an enseamèd bed, Stewed in corruption, honeying and making love Over the nasty sty—

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

O, speak to me no more!These words like daggers enter in my ears.No more, sweet Hamlet.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

A murderer and a villain, A slave that is not twentieth part the tithe Of your precedent lord, a vice of kings, A cutpurse of the empire and the rule, That from a shelf the precious diadem stole, And put it in his pocket—

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

No more!

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

A king of shreds and patches—

HAMLET

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The GHOST enters.

HAMLET

Save me and hover o’er me with your wings,You heavenly guards!—What would your gracious figure?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Alas, he’s mad!

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Do you not come your tardy son to chide, That, lapsed in time and passion, lets go by The important acting of your dread command? O, say!

HAMLET

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GHOST

Do not forget. This visitation Is but to whet thy almost blunted purpose. But look, amazement on thy mother sits. O, step between her and her fighting soul. Conceit in weakest bodies strongest works. Speak to her, Hamlet.

GHOST

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HAMLET

How is it with you, lady?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Alas, how is ’t with you, That you do bend your eye on vacancy And with th’ incorporal air do hold discourse? Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep, And, as the sleeping soldiers in th’ alarm, Your bedded hair, like life in excrements, Starts up and stands on end. O gentle son, Upon the heat and flame of thy distemper Sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares! His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones, Would make them capable. [to GHOST] Do not look upon me, Lest with this piteous action you convert My stern effects. Then what I have to do Will want true color—tears perchance for blood.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

To whom do you speak this?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Do you see nothing there?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Nothing at all, yet all that is I see.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Nor did you nothing hear?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

No, nothing but ourselves.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Why, look you there! Look how it steals away—My father, in his habit as he lived—Look where he goes, even now, out at the portal!

HAMLET

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The GHOST exits.

GERTRUDE

This the very coinage of your brain.This bodiless creation ecstasyIs very cunning in.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Ecstasy? My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time And makes as healthful music. It is not madness That I have uttered. Bring me to the test, And I the matter will reword, which madness Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace, Lay not that flattering unction to your soul That not your trespass but my madness speaks. It will but skin and film the ulcerous place Whilst rank corruption, mining all within, Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven. Repent what’s past. Avoid what is to come. And do not spread the compost on the weeds To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue, For in the fatness of these pursy times Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg, Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Oh, throw away the worser part of it, And live the purer with the other half. Good night—but go not to mine uncle’s bed. Assume a virtue if you have it not. That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat, Of habits devil, is angel yet in this: That to the use of actions fair and good He likewise gives a frock or livery That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight, And that shall lend a kind of easiness To the next abstinence, the next more easy. For use almost can change the stamp of nature, And either rein the devil or throw him out With wondrous potency. Once more, good night, And when you are desirous to be blessed, I’ll blessing beg of you. [points to POLONIUS] For this same lord, I do repent. But heaven hath pleased it so, To punish me with this and this with me, That I must be their scourge and minister. I will bestow him and will answer well The death I gave him. So, again, good night. I must be cruel only to be kind. Thus bad begins and worse remains behind. One word more, good lady—

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

What shall I do?

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Not this, by no means, that I bid you do— Let the bloat king tempt you again to bed, Pinch wanton on your cheek, call you his mouse, And let him, for a pair of reechy kisses Or paddling in your neck with his damned fingers, Make you to ravel all this matter out: That I essentially am not in madness But mad in craft. ‘Twere good you let him know, For who that’s but a queen, fair, sober, wise, Would from a paddock, from a bat, a gib, Such dear concernings hide? Who would do so? No, in despite of sense and secrecy, Unpeg the basket on the house’s top. Let the birds fly, and like the famous ape, To try conclusions, in the basket creep And break your own neck down.

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Be thou assured, if words be made of breathAnd breath of life, I have no life to breatheWhat thou hast said to me.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

I must to England, you know that?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

Alack,I had forgot. ‘Tis so concluded on.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

There’s letters sealed, and my two schoolfellows, Whom I will trust as I will adders fanged, They bear the mandate. They must sweep my way And marshal me to knavery. Let it work, For ’tis the sport to have the engineer Hoist with his own petard. And ’t shall go hard, But I will delve one yard below their mines, And blow them at the moon. Oh, ’tis most sweet When in one line two crafts directly meet. [indicates POLONIUS] This man shall set me packing. I’ll lug the guts into the neighbor room. Mother, good night. Indeed this counselor Is now most still, most secret, and most grave Who was in life a foolish prating knave.— Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.— Good night, mother.

HAMLET

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They exit, HAMLET dragging POLONIUS.

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.