A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 5

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HORATIO, GERTRUDE, and a GENTLEMAN enter.

GERTRUDE

I will not speak with her.

GERTRUDE

I won’t speak to her.

GENTLEMAN

She is importunate,Indeed distract. Her mood will needs be pitied.

GENTLEMAN

She demands it. In fact, she’s crazed. Her bahavior will inspire your pity.

GERTRUDE

What would she have?

GERTRUDE

What does she want?

GENTLEMAN

She speaks much of her father, says she hears There’s tricks i’ th’ world, and hems, and beats her heart, Spurns enviously at straws, speaks things in doubt That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing, Yet the unshaped use of it doth move The hearers to collection. They aim at it, And botch the words up fit to their own thoughts, Which, as her winks and nods and gestures yield them, Indeed would make one think there might be thought, Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.

GENTLEMAN

She talks often of her father, and says she’s learned there are deceptions in the world, and coughs, and beats her chest, and takes offense at little things, and says things that don’t make sense. Her words are meaningless—yet those who hear her babbling attempt to understand its meaning. They patch up the gaps within her words, and end up hearing what they want to hear. And the winks and nods and gestures she makes while speaking imply—without being at all clear—that she’s hinting at some terrible deeper meaning.

HORATIO

‘Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strewDangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.

HORATIO

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GERTRUDE

Let her come in.

GERTRUDE

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The GENTLEMAN exits.

GERTRUDE

[aside] To my sick soul (as sin’s true nature is) Each toy seems prologue to some great amiss. So full of artless jealousy is guilt, It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA enters, insane.

OPHELIA

Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?

OPHELIA

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GERTRUDE

How now, Ophelia?

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA

[sings] How should I your true love know From another one? By his cockle hat and staff, And his sandal shoon.

OPHELIA

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GERTRUDE

Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA

Say you? Nay, pray you, mark. [sings] He is dead and gone, lady, He is dead and gone, At his head a grass-green turf, At his heels a stone. Oh, ho!

OPHELIA

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GERTRUDE

Nay, but, Ophelia—

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA

Pray you, mark. [sings]White his shroud as the mountain snow—

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS enters.

GERTRUDE

Alas, look here, my lord.

GERTRUDE

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OPHELIA

[sings]Larded all with sweet flowers,Which bewept to the ground did not goWith true-love showers.

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS

How do you, pretty lady?

CLAUDIUS

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OPHELIA

Well, God’ield you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table.

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS

Conceit upon her father.

CLAUDIUS

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OPHELIA

Pray you, let’s have no words of this, but when they ask you what it means, say you this: [sings] Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s day, All in the morning betime, And I a maid at your window, To be your Valentine. Then up he rose, and donned his clothes, And dupped the chamber door. Let in the maid that out a maid Never departed more.

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS

Pretty Ophelia—

CLAUDIUS

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OPHELIA

Indeed, without an oath I’ll make an end on ’t: [sings] By Gis and by Saint Charity, Alack, and fie, for shame! Young men will do ’t, if they come to ’t. By Cock, they are to blame. Quoth she, “Before you tumbled me, You promised me to wed.” He answers, “So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun, An thou hadst not come to my bed.”

OPHELIA

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CLAUDIUS

How long hath she been thus?

CLAUDIUS

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OPHELIA

I hope all will be well. We must be patient, but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i’ th’ cold ground. My brother shall know of it, and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good night, ladies. Good night, sweet ladies. Good night, good night.

OPHELIA

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OPHELIA exits.

CLAUDIUS

Follow her close. Give her good watch, I pray you.

CLAUDIUS

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HORATIO exits.

CLAUDIUS

Oh, this is the poison of deep grief. It springs All from her father’s death, and now behold! O Gertrude, Gertrude, When sorrows come, they come not single spies But in battalions. First, her father slain. Next, your son gone, and he most violent author Of his own just remove. The people muddied, Thick, and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers For good Polonius’ death, and we have done but greenly In hugger-mugger to inter him. Poor Ophelia Divided from herself and her fair judgment, Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts. Last—and as much containing as all these— Her brother is in secret come from France, Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds, And wants not buzzers to infect his ear With pestilent speeches of his father’s death, Wherein necessity, of matter beggared, Will nothing stick our person to arraign In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this, Like to a murdering piece, in many places Gives me superfluous death.

CLAUDIUS

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A noise offstage.

GERTRUDE

Alack, what noise is this?

GERTRUDE

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CLAUDIUS

Where are my Switzers? Let them guard the door.

CLAUDIUS

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A MESSENGER enters.

CLAUDIUS

What is the matter?

CLAUDIUS

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MESSENGER

Save yourself, my lord. The ocean, overpeering of his list, Eats not the flats with more impiteous haste Than young Laertes, in a riotous head, O’erbears your officers. The rabble call him “lord” And—as the world were now but to begin, Antiquity forgot, custom not known, The ratifiers and props of every word— They cry, “Choose we! Laertes shall be king!” Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds: “Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!”

MESSENGER

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GERTRUDE

How cheerfully on the false trail they cry.O, this is counter, you false Danish dogs!

GERTRUDE

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A noise offstage.

CLAUDIUS

The doors are broke.

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES enters with others.

LAERTES

Where is this king?—Sirs, stand you all without.

LAERTES

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ALL

No, let’s come in!

ALL

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LAERTES

I pray you, give me leave.

LAERTES

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ALL

We will, we will.

ALL

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LAERTES’ FOLLOWERS exit.

LAERTES

I thank you. Keep the door.—O thou vile king,Give me my father!

LAERTES

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GERTRUDE

Calmly, good Laertes.

GERTRUDE

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LAERTES

That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard, Cries “Cuckold!” to my father, brands the “harlot” Even here between the chaste unsmirchèd brow Of my true mother.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

What is the cause, Laertes, That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?— Let him go, Gertrude. Do not fear our person. There’s such divinity doth hedge a king That treason can but peep to what it would, Acts little of his will. —Tell me, Laertes, Why thou art thus incensed. —Let him go, Gertrude.— Speak, man.

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

Where is my father?

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Dead.

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

But not by him.

GERTRUDE

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CLAUDIUS

Let him demand his fill.

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

How came he dead? I’ll not be juggled with. To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil! Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit! I dare damnation. To this point I stand That both the worlds I give to negligence. Let come what comes, only I’ll be revenged Most thoroughly for my father.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Who shall stay you?

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

My will, not all the world.And for my means, I’ll husband them so well,They shall go far with little.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Good Laertes, If you desire to know the certainty Of your dear father’s death, is ’t writ in your revenge, That, swoopstake, you will draw both friend and foe, Winner and loser?

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

None but his enemies.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Will you know them then?

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my armsAnd, like the kind life-rendering pelican,Repast them with my blood.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Why, now you speak Like a good child and a true gentleman. That I am guiltless of your father’s death And am most sensible in grief for it, It shall as level to your judgment pierce As day does to your eye.

CLAUDIUS

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A voice offstage, “Let her in!”

LAERTES

How now? What noise is that?

LAERTES

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OPHELIA enters.

LAERTES

O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt, Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye! By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight, Till our scale turn the beam. O rose of May, Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia! O heavens, is ’t possible a young maid’s wits Should be as mortal as an old man’s life? Nature is fine in love, and where ’tis fine, It sends some precious instance of itself After the thing it loves.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

[sings] They bore him barefaced on the bier, Hey, non nonny, nonny, hey, nonny, And in his grave rained many a tear. Fare you well, my dove.

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

Hadst thou thy wits, and didst persuade revenge,It could not move thus.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

You must sing A-down a-down—And you, Call him a- down-a—Oh, how the wheel becomes it! It is the false steward that stole his master’s daughter.

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

This nothing’s more than matter.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

A document in madness. Thoughts and remembrance fitted.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

There’s fennel for you, and columbines.—There’s rue foryou, and here’s some for me. We may call it “herb of grace” o’ Sundays.—Oh, you must wear your rue with a difference.— There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. Theysay he made a good end [sings] For bonny sweet Robin isall my joy—

OPHELIA

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LAERTES

Thought and affliction, passion, hell itself,She turns to favor and to prettiness.

LAERTES

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OPHELIA

[sings] And will he not come again? And will he not come again? No, no, he is dead, Go to thy deathbed. He never will come again. His beard was as white as snow, All flaxen was his poll. He is gone, he is gone, And we cast away moan, God ha’ mercy on his soul. And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God be wi’ ye.

OPHELIA

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OPHELIA exits.

LAERTES

Do you see this, O God?

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

Laertes, I must commune with your grief, Or you deny me right. Go but apart, Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will. And they shall hear and judge ’twixt you and me. If by direct or by collateral hand They find us touched, we will our kingdom give, Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours, To you in satisfaction. But if not, Be you content to lend your patience to us, And we shall jointly labor with your soul To give it due content.

CLAUDIUS

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LAERTES

Let this be so. His means of death, his obscure funeral— No trophy, sword, nor hatchment o’er his bones, No noble rite nor formal ostentation— Cry to be heard as ’twere from heaven to earth, That I must call ’t in question.

LAERTES

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CLAUDIUS

So you shall.And where the offense is, let the great ax fall.I pray you, go with me.

CLAUDIUS

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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.