A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 2

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HAMLET enters.

HAMLET

Safely stowed.

HAMLET

Safely hidden.

GENTLEMEN

[from within] Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!

GENTLEMEN

[Offstage] Hamlet, Lord Hamlet!

HAMLET

But soft, what noise? Who calls on Hamlet?Oh, here they come.

HAMLET

But wait, what’s that noise? Who’s calling for Hamlet? Oh, here they come.

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter with others.

ROSENCRANTZ

What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?

ROSENCRANTZ

What have you done with the dead body, my lord?

HAMLET

Compounded it with dust, whereto ’tis kin.

HAMLET

Gotten it dirty—ashes to ashes, and dust to dust.

ROSENCRANTZ

Tell us where ’tis, that we may take it thenceAnd bear it to the chapel.

ROSENCRANTZ

Tell us where it is, so we can take it to the chapel.

HAMLET

Do not believe it.

HAMLET

Don’t believe it.

ROSENCRANTZ

Believe what?

ROSENCRANTZ

Believe what?

HAMLET

That I can keep your counsel and not mine own. Besides,to be demanded of a sponge! What replication should be made by the son of a king?

HAMLET

That I’d take your advice and then keep my own secret. Besides, to be questioned by a sponge! How should the son of a king respond to a sponge?

ROSENCRANTZ

Take you me for a sponge, my lord?

ROSENCRANTZ

You think that I’m a sponge, my lord?

HAMLET

Ay, sir, that soaks up the king’s countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again.

HAMLET

Yes, sir, a sponge that soaks up the king’s approval, his rewards, and his decisions. Officers like that give the king the best service in the end. He keeps them in his mouth like an ape, moving them around from one side of his mouth to the other. When he needs to know what you have learned, he can just squeeze you like a sponge, and then you’ll be dry again.

ROSENCRANTZ

I understand you not, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

I don’t understand you, my lord.

HAMLET

I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.

HAMLET

I’m glad about that. Mischievous words will never get a response from a fool, because the fool won't understand them.

ROSENCRANTZ

My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go withus to the king.

ROSENCRANTZ

My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and then go with us to the king.

HAMLET

The body is with the king, but the king is not with thebody.The king is a thing—

HAMLET

The body’s with the real king, but the current king’s not with the body. The king’s a thing—

GUILDENSTERN

A thing, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN

A “thing,” my lord?

HAMLET

Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide, fox, and all after.

HAMLET

Of no importance. Take me to him. Actually, try and catch me!

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.