A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 4, Scene 6

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HORATIO and a SERVANT enter.

HORATIO

What are they that would speak with me?

HORATIO

Who wants to speak with me?

SERVANT

Seafaring men, sir. They say they have letters for you.

SERVANT

Sailors, sir. They say they have letters for you.

HORATIO

Let them come in.

HORATIO

Bring them in.

SERVANT exits.

HORATIO

I do not know from what part of the worldI should be greeted, if not from Lord Hamlet.

HORATIO

I don’t know who else in the world would send me letters, except Lord Hamlet.

SAILORS enter.

SAILOR

God bless you, sir.

SAILOR

God bless you, sir.

HORATIO

Let him bless thee too.

HORATIO

May he bless you as well.

SAILOR

He shall, sir, an ’t please him. There’s a letter for you, sir— it comes from the ambassador that was bound for England—if your name be Horatio, as I am let to knowit is. [He gives HORATIO a letter]

SAILOR

Sir, he will if it pleases him. Here’s a letter for you, sir. It’s from the ambassador, Lord Hamlet, who was going to England—if your name’s Horatio, as I’ve been told it is. [He hands HORATIO a letter]

HORATIO

[reads] “Horatio, When thou shalt have overlooked this, give these fellows some means to the king. They have letters for him. Ere we were two days old at sea, a pirate of very warlike appointment gave us chase. Finding ourselves tooslow of sail, we put on a compelled valor, and in the grapple I boarded them. On the instant, they got clear of our ship, so I alone became their prisoner. They havedealt with me like thieves of mercy, but they knew whatthey did; I am to do a good turn for them. Let the kinghave the letters I have sent, and repair thou to me with as much speed as thou wouldst fly death. I have words to speak in thine ear will make thee dumb, yet arethey much too light for the bore of the matter. These good fellows will bring thee where I am. Rosencrantz andGuildenstern hold their course for England. Of them I have much to tell thee. Fare-well. He that thou knowest thine, Hamlet.” Come, I will give you way for these your letters, And do ’t the speedier, that you may direct me To him from whom you brought them.

HORATIO

[Reading the letter] “Horatio, When you’ve read this, make sure these men see the king. They have letters for him. Before we were at sea for even two days, a pirate ship equipped for battle came after us. Realizing we were too slow to escape, we were forced to fight, and during the battle I boarded the pirate ship. At that moment, the pirates disengaged from our ship, making me their sole prisoner. For thieves, they’ve treated me very mercifully, but they knew what they were doing. They want me to do a favor for them. Give the king the letters I’ve sent, and come to me as fast as you would run from death. I’ve got things to tell you that will make you speechless, and they aren’t even the most important details. These sailors will bring you to me. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern continue on their way to England. I have a lot to tell you about them. Goodbye. From the man that you know is your friend, Hamlet.” Come, men. I’ll bring you to the place where you can deliver these letters as quickly as possible, so that you can lead me to the man who sent them.

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.