A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 4

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FORTINBRAS enters with his army and a CAPTAIN.

FORTINBRAS

Go, Captain, from me greet the Danish king Tell him that, by his license, Fortinbras Craves the conveyance of a promised march Over his kingdom. You know the rendezvous. If that his majesty would aught with us, We shall express our duty in his eye, And let him know so.

FORTINBRAS

Go, Captain, bring my greetings to the Danish king. Tell him that, as was promised, Fortinbras asks for permission to march his troops across Denmark. You know the place where you should meet back up with our army. If His Majesty wants anything at all from us, let him know that we will do it.

CAPTAIN

I will do ’t, my lord.

CAPTAIN

I’ll do that, my lord.

FORTINBRAS

Go softly on.

FORTINBRAS

Go on, then.

All except the CAPTAIN exits.

HAMLET, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others enter.

HAMLET

Good sir, whose powers are these?

HAMLET

Good sir, whose troops are these?

CAPTAIN

They are of Norway, sir.

CAPTAIN

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HAMLET

How purposed, sir, I pray you?

HAMLET

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CAPTAIN

Against some part of Poland.

CAPTAIN

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HAMLET

Who commands them, sir?

HAMLET

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CAPTAIN

The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.

CAPTAIN

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HAMLET

Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,Or for some frontier?

HAMLET

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CAPTAIN

Truly to speak, and with no addition, We go to gain a little patch of ground That hath in it no profit but the name. To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it. Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.

CAPTAIN

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HAMLET

Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

HAMLET

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CAPTAIN

Yes, it is already garrisoned.

CAPTAIN

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HAMLET

Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats Will not debate the question of this straw. This is th’ impostume of much wealth and peace, That inward breaks and shows no cause without Why the man dies. —I humbly thank you, sir.

HAMLET

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CAPTAIN

God be wi’ you, sir.

CAPTAIN

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The CAPTAIN exits.

ROSENCRANTZ

Will ’t please you go, my lord?

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

I’ll be with you straight. Go a little before.

HAMLET

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Everyone exits except HAMLET.

HAMLET

How all occasions do inform against me, And spur my dull revenge! What is a man If his chief good and market of his time Be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more. Sure, he that made us with such large discourse, Looking before and after, gave us not That capability and godlike reason To fust in us unused. Now, whether it be Bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple Of thinking too precisely on th’ event— A thought which, quartered, hath but one part wisdom And ever three parts coward—I do not know Why yet I live to say “This thing’s to do,” Sith I have cause and will and strength and means To do ’t. Examples gross as earth exhort me. Witness this army of such mass and charge Led by a delicate and tender prince, Whose spirit with divine ambition puffed Makes mouths at the invisible event, Exposing what is mortal and unsure To all that fortune, death, and danger dare, Even for an eggshell. Rightly to be great Is not to stir without great argument, But greatly to find quarrel in a straw When honor’s at the stake. How stand I then, That have a father killed, a mother stained, Excitements of my reason and my blood, And let all sleep —while, to my shame, I see The imminent death of twenty thousand men, That for a fantasy and trick of fame Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause, Which is not tomb enough and continent To hide the slain? Oh, from this time forth, My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!

HAMLET

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He exits.

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.