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Love's Labor's Lost

Love's Labor's Lost Translation Act 2, Scene 1

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Enter the PRINCESS of France, ROSALINE, MARIA, KATHARINE, BOYET, Lords, and other Attendants

BOYET

Now, madam, summon up your dearest spirits: Consider who the king your father sends, To whom he sends, and what's his embassy: Yourself, held precious in the world's esteem, To parley with the sole inheritor Of all perfections that a man may owe, Matchless Navarre; the plea of no less weight Than Aquitaine, a dowry for a queen. Be now as prodigal of all dear grace As Nature was in making graces dear When she did starve the general world beside And prodigally gave them all to you.

BOYET

Now, madam, you must gather all of your energy and consider who the King, your father, sends you to talk to and what message you must deliver. Since the world thinks so highly of you, it is only right that you have been sent to speak with the remarkable King of Navarre, a man who is said to be perfect. You are speaking on behalf of your country, speak with the grace that this important message deserves. Be as graceful as Nature intended for you to be, when she gave you all the honors and beauty of this world and left none for anyone else.

PRINCESS

Good Lord Boyet, my beauty, though but mean, Needs not the painted flourish of your praise: Beauty is bought by judgement of the eye, Not utter'd by base sale of chapmen's tongues: I am less proud to hear you tell my worth Than you much willing to be counted wise In spending your wit in the praise of mine. But now to task the tasker: good Boyet, You are not ignorant, all-telling fame Doth noise abroad, Navarre hath made a vow, Till painful study shall outwear three years, No woman may approach his silent court: Therefore to's seemeth it a needful course, Before we enter his forbidden gates, To know his pleasure; and in that behalf, Bold of your worthiness, we single you As our best-moving fair solicitor. Tell him, the daughter of the King of France, On serious business, craving quick dispatch, Importunes personal conference with his grace: Haste, signify so much; while we attend, Like humble-visaged suitors, his high will.

PRINCESS

Good Lord Boyet, although my beauty is only moderate, that does not mean I need you to praise it so much. Beauty is something which only the eye can judge, it cannot be bought and sold in some kind of business deal. I feel more unhappy when you describe my beauty, than you feel wise when praising me with your wit. But now I will give you your task: Good Boyet, you are not stupid, you have heard the many rumors that have spread abroad. It is said that the King of Navarre has made a promise that no women are allowed to enter his silent court until he has spent three years focused on studying. Therefore, it seems necessary that we find out if this is true before we enter his forbidden gates. That's where you come in. We've picked you to be our spokesperson, as we know you are worthy and persuasive. Tell him that the daughter of the King of France needs to talk to him privately about important matters and must return to France as soon as possible. Go quickly and tell him this; we will wait out here to find out what he will say, like some poor and unappealing admirers.

BOYET

Proud of employment, willingly I go.

BOYET

I am proud to do this task, I will willingly go now.

PRINCESS

All pride is willing pride, and yours is so.

PRINCESS

If you are proud to do it, you should always be willing.

Exit BOYET

PRINCESS

Who are the votaries, my loving lords,That are vow-fellows with this virtuous Duke?

PRINCESS

Who are the other men, the adoring lords, who have supposedly agreed to these same promises with our good Duke?

FIRST LORD

Lord Longaville is one.

FIRST LORD

One of them is Lord Longaville.

PRINCESS

Know you the man?

PRINCESS

[To the ladies] Do you know this man? 

MARIA

I know him, madam: at a marriage-feast, Between Lord Perigort and the beauteous heir Of Jaques Falconbridge, solemnized In Normandy, saw I this Longaville: A man of sovereign parts he is esteem'd; Well fitted in arts, glorious in arms: Nothing becomes him ill that he would well. The only soil of his fair virtue's gloss, If virtue's gloss will stain with any soil, Is a sharp wit matched with too blunt a will; Whose edge hath power to cut, whose will still wills It should none spare that come within his power.

MARIA

I know him madam. I met him at a marriage ceremony in Normandy, between Lord Perigord and the beautiful heiress of Jacques Falconbridge. He is said to be a man who has many excellent qualities: he is gifted in the arts, he is a strong fighter. Whatever he does he does well and he looks good doing it. The only flaw on an otherwise perfect character, if every character must have a flaw, is that he has a quick wit, but he never uses it. His wit is as sharp as a knife and could put down anyone that he talked to, if he chose to use it.

PRINCESS

Some merry mocking lord, belike; is't so?

PRINCESS

He is more of a happy-go-lucky kind of lord, is that right?

MARIA

They say so most that most his humours know.

MARIA

People who know his moods the best do say so.

PRINCESS

Such short-lived wits do wither as they grow.Who are the rest?

PRINCESS

Such wit is short-lived and inconsequential. Who are the others?

KATHARINE

The young Dumain, a well-accomplished youth, Of all that virtue love for virtue loved: Most power to do most harm, least knowing ill; For he hath wit to make an ill shape good, And shape to win grace though he had no wit. I saw him at the Duke Alencon's once; And much too little of that good I saw Is my report to his great worthiness.

KATHARINE

The young Dumain, a very talented young man, but he is so innocent and virtuous that he can end up doing more harm than good, because he is so unaware of the harm that he is doing. He is clever enough to make even a bad thing look good, and his appearance certainly makes him appealing even when his wit can't. I met him at Duke Alencon's house once, and I admit that I didn't see enough of this talent that he is reported to have.

ROSALINE

Another of these students at that time Was there with him, if I have heard a truth. Biron they call him; but a merrier man, Within the limit of becoming mirth, I never spent an hour's talk withal: His eye begets occasion for his wit; For every object that the one doth catch The other turns to a mirth-moving jest, Which his fair tongue, conceit's expositor, Delivers in such apt and gracious words That aged ears play truant at his tales And younger hearings are quite ravished; So sweet and voluble is his discourse.

ROSALINE

Another one of these students was there with him on that occasion, if I remember correctly. They call him Biron and I have certainly never chatted with a man who is so amusing. He finds any opportunity he can to make a witty joke; everything he sees he manages to turn into a hilarious joke, which he delivers so cleverly, using such smart words that older people don't understand his hilarity and young people are delighted by what they hear—so sweet and quick is his tongue!

PRINCESS

God bless my ladies! are they all in love,That every one her own hath garnishedWith such bedecking ornaments of praise?

PRINCESS

Oh my poor ladies! You must all be in love, to describe your lords with such incredible words of praise?

FIRST LORD

Here comes Boyet.

FIRST LORD

Here comes Boyet.

Re-enter BOYET

PRINCESS

Now, what admittance, lord?

PRINCESS

Can we enter now, my lord?

BOYET

Navarre had notice of your fair approach; And he and his competitors in oath Were all address'd to meet you, gentle lady, Before I came. Marry, thus much I have learnt: He rather means to lodge you in the field, Like one that comes here to besiege his court, Than seek a dispensation for his oath, To let you enter his unpeopled house. Here comes Navarre.

BOYET

The King of Navarre was told that you were coming and him and his partners in oath were preparing to meet you, gentle lady, before I arrived. So far I have learnt this: He has decided that you will stay in the field, as if you were an army coming to attack his court, rather than go against his oath and let you enter his empty house. Here comes the King now.

Enter FERDINAND, LONGAVILLE, DUMAIN, BIRON, and Attendants

FERDINAND

Fair princess, welcome to the court of Navarre.

FERDINAND

Welcome to the court of Navarre, fair princess.

PRINCESS

'Fair' I give you back again; and 'welcome' I havenot yet: the roof of this court is too high to beyours; and welcome to the wide fields too base to be mine.

PRINCESS

You can take back calling me "fair," and I have not yet been welcomed into the court of Navarre. This sky is far too high to belong to you and being welcomed in these fields is far below me.

FERDINAND

You shall be welcome, madam, to my court.

FERDINAND

You will be welcome, madam, to the court of Navarre.

PRINCESS

I will be welcome, then: conduct me thither.

PRINCESS

If I am welcome, then lead me inside.

FERDINAND

Hear me, dear lady; I have sworn an oath.

FERDINAND

Listen to me, dear lady, I have made a promise.

PRINCESS

Our Lady help my lord! he'll be forsworn.

PRINCESS

Ladies, we must help my lord! He must break his promise.

FERDINAND

Not for the world, fair madam, by my will.

FERDINAND

I will not break it for the world, fair madam, not of my own accord.

PRINCESS

Why, will shall break it; will and nothing else.

PRINCESS

Why, in the end you shall break it of your own accord, no one else will force you to do it.

FERDINAND

Your ladyship is ignorant what it is.

FERDINAND

Your ladyship does not understand our oath.

PRINCESS

Were my lord so, his ignorance were wise, Where now his knowledge must prove ignorance. I hear your grace hath sworn out house-keeping: Tis deadly sin to keep that oath, my lord, And sin to break it. But pardon me. I am too sudden-bold: To teach a teacher ill beseemeth me. Vouchsafe to read the purpose of my coming, And suddenly resolve me in my suit.

PRINCESS

Normally my lord, even in your ignorance you are wise, but now a desire for knowledge has made you act foolishly. I have heard that you have promised to stop welcoming guests, my lord. I must warn you, this is a dangerous promise to keep, but now it is a dangerous promise for you to break as well. But you must excuse me, I have said too much. It is not right for me to try to teach an academic like you. [Giving FERDINAND a piece of paper] Promise to read why I have come here and answer me immediately.

FERDINAND

Madam, I will, if suddenly I may.

FERDINAND

Madam, I will, right away.

PRINCESS

You will the sooner, that I were away;For you'll prove perjured if you make me stay.

PRINCESS

You will want me to leave as quickly as possible, or you will end up breaking your promise if I have to stay longer.

BIRON

Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?

BIRON

Did I dance with you once in Brabant?

ROSALINE

Did not I dance with you in Brabant once?

ROSALINE

Did I dance with you once in Brabant?

BIRON

I know you did.

BIRON

Yes you did.

ROSALINE

How needless was it then to ask the question!

ROSALINE

Why did you bother asking the question then?

BIRON

You must not be so quick.

BIRON

You should not be so sharp with me.

ROSALINE

'Tis 'long of you that spur me with such questions.

ROSALINE

It is only because you encourage me with such silly questions.

BIRON

Your wit's too hot, it speeds too fast, 'twill tire.

BIRON

Your wit is too quick, you will get tired soon.

ROSALINE

Not till it leave the rider in the mire.

ROSALINE

I won't tire until I leave you lying in a ditch.

BIRON

What time o' day?

BIRON

What time is it?

ROSALINE

The hour that fools should ask.

ROSALINE

A time when foolish people ask foolish questions.

BIRON

Now fair befall your mask!

BIRON

Well good luck to that mask that you wear!

ROSALINE

Fair fall the face it covers!

ROSALINE

May it continue to cover my pretty face!

BIRON

And send you many lovers!

BIRON

And send you many lovers!

ROSALINE

Amen, so you be none.

ROSALINE

As long as you're not one of them!

BIRON

Nay, then will I be gone.

BIRON

I will go then.

FERDINAND

Madam, your father here doth intimate The payment of a hundred thousand crowns; Being but the one half of an entire sum Disbursed by my father in his wars. But say that he or we, as neither have, Received that sum, yet there remains unpaid A hundred thousand more; in surety of the which, One part of Aquitaine is bound to us, Although not valued to the money's worth. If then the king your father will restore But that one half which is unsatisfied, We will give up our right in Aquitaine, And hold fair friendship with his majesty. But that, it seems, he little purposeth, For here he doth demand to have repaid A hundred thousand crowns; and not demands, On payment of a hundred thousand crowns, To have his title live in Aquitaine; Which we much rather had depart withal And have the money by our father lent Than Aquitaine so gelded as it is. Dear Princess, were not his requests so far From reason's yielding, your fair self should make A yielding 'gainst some reason in my breast And go well satisfied to France again.

FERDINAND

Madam, in this letter your father asks for the repayment of a hundred thousand crowns, which is only half of what my father lent to you in his wars! We have never received that money from you and neither did he, yet you still owe us a hundred thousand more and until we get that, one part of Aquitaine belongs to us, although the land isn't even worth that much. If the King, your father, will give back the half which is not settled by payments, we will give up our power in Aquitaine, and maintain a good relationship with him. But he doesn't seem to want that. For in this letter he claims he is entitled to the hundred thousand crowns, instead of demanding that, for this sum, he can have control over Aquitaine back. We would much rather give up Aquitaine, as it is so separated from the rest of our land, and have the money that was lent by your father. Dear Princess, if these requests weren't so unreasonable, then your beautiful self would be able to convince me to agree, and you could return to France happy again.

PRINCESS

You do the king my father too much wrongAnd wrong the reputation of your name,In so unseeming to confess receiptOf that which hath so faithfully been paid.

PRINCESS

You cause offense to my father, the King, and shame your own name, in refusing to accept that you received this money from us.

FERDINAND

I do protest I never heard of it;And if you prove it, I'll repay it backOr yield up Aquitaine.

FERDINAND

I maintain that I have never heard of it, but if you can prove it, I will either repay the money or I will give you back the region of Aquitaine.

PRINCESS

We arrest your word.Boyet, you can produce acquittancesFor such a sum from special officersOf Charles his father.

PRINCESS

We will hold you to your word. Boyet, you can collect documents to prove this deal took place from some of the officers of his father Charles.

FERDINAND

Satisfy me so.

FERDINAND

That would be enough to convince me.

BOYET

So please your grace, the packet is not comeWhere that and other specialties are bound:To-morrow you shall have a sight of them.

BOYET

So be it. The package containing the contracts hasn't arrived yet but you will be able to see them tomorrow.

FERDINAND

It shall suffice me: at which interview All liberal reason I will yield unto. Meantime receive such welcome at my hand As honour without breach of honour may Make tender of to thy true worthiness: You may not come, fair princess, in my gates; But here without you shall be so received As you shall deem yourself lodged in my heart, Though so denied fair harbour in my house. Your own good thoughts excuse me, and farewell: To-morrow shall we visit you again.

FERDINAND

That will be okay—once I have seen them I will be able to respond to you in a polite and reasonable manner. Until then, I hope you feel truly welcomed, as you deserve to be, but without breaking my oath. Although you cannot come inside my gates, fair princess, you will be treated so well out here that you will feel like you are staying in my heart, even if you can't enter my house. May your good thoughts excuse me and goodbye, we shall visit you again tomorrow.

PRINCESS

Sweet health and fair desires consort your grace!

PRINCESS

May you have good health and happiness!

FERDINAND

Thy own wish wish I thee in every place!

FERDINAND

And the same to you!

Exit

BIRON

Lady, I will commend you to mine own heart.

BIRON

Lady, I will keep you in my heart.

ROSALINE

Pray you, do my commendations; I would be glad to see it.

ROSALINE

Please do, I would be happy to see what goes on in that organ of yours.

BIRON

I would you heard it groan.

BIRON

I wish you could hear my pains.

ROSALINE

Is the fool sick?

ROSALINE

Poor thing, are you sick?

BIRON

Sick at the heart.

BIRON

Sick in the heart!

ROSALINE

Alack, let it blood.

ROSALINE

Oh dear, let that wound bleed out.

BIRON

Would that do it good?

BIRON

Would that help?

ROSALINE

My physic says 'ay.'

ROSALINE

My doctor says it will.

BIRON

Will you prick't with your eye?

BIRON

Will you stab it with your eye?

ROSALINE

No point, with my knife.

ROSALINE

That's pointless, but I will with my knife?

BIRON

Now, God save thy life!

BIRON

Oh never mind, good luck to you!

ROSALINE

And yours from long living!

ROSALINE

And may you not live long with this pain!

BIRON

I cannot stay thanksgiving.

BIRON

Sorry but I cannot stay to thank you.

Retiring

DUMAIN

Sir, I pray you, a word: what lady is that same?

DUMAIN

[To BOYET] Sir, I have a question for you. Who is that lady?

BOYET

The heir of Alencon, Katharine her name.

BOYET

That is the heir of Alencon, her name is Katharine.

DUMAIN

A gallant lady. Monsieur, fare you well.

DUMAIN

A pretty lady. Monsieur, goodbye to you now.

Exit

LONGAVILLE

I beseech you a word: what is she in the white?

LONGAVILLE

[To BOYET] One quick word sir, who is that wearing white?

BOYET

A woman sometimes, an you saw her in the light.

BOYET

A woman I believe, if you see her in the light.

LONGAVILLE

Perchance light in the light. I desire her name.

LONGAVILLE

I want to know her name.

BOYET

She hath but one for herself; to desire that were a shame.

BOYET

She has only one name for herself, and you should not wish to have it for yourself. 

LONGAVILLE

Pray you, sir, whose daughter?

LONGAVILLE

Please sir, whose daughter is she?

BOYET

Her mother's, I have heard.

BOYET

Her mother's, I have heard.

LONGAVILLE

God's blessing on your beard!

LONGAVILLE

Come on, grow up!

BOYET

Good sir, be not offended.She is an heir of Falconbridge.

BOYET

Don't be offended good sir. She is an heir of the Falconbridge family.

LONGAVILLE

Nay, my choler is ended.She is a most sweet lady.

LONGAVILLE

Now my anger is gone. She is such a sweet lady.

BOYET

Not unlike, sir, that may be.

BOYET

That is very likely true.

Exit LONGAVILLE

BIRON

What's her name in the cap?

BIRON

What is her name, the one in the hat?

BOYET

Rosaline, by good hap.

BOYET

Rosaline, it so happens

BIRON

Is she wedded or no?

BIRON

Is she married or not?

BOYET

To her will, sir, or so.

BOYET

To her own will sir, or something like that.

BIRON

You are welcome, sir: adieu.

BIRON

Thank you sir, goodbye.

BOYET

Farewell to me, sir, and welcome to you.

BOYET

Goodbye to me sir, and welcome to you!

Exit BIRON

MARIA

That last is Biron, the merry madcap lord:Not a word with him but a jest.

MARIA

That last lord is Biron, every word he says is some kind of joke.

BOYET

And every jest but a word.

BOYET

And every joke is merely one word.

PRINCESS

It was well done of you to take him at his word.

PRINCESS

You did well at fighting back against his word play.

BOYET

I was as willing to grapple as he was to board.

BOYET

I was as willing to have such a fight of words, as he was to respond.

MARIA

Two hot sheeps, marry.

MARIA

Two hot sheep, indeed.

BOYET

And wherefore not ships?No sheep, sweet lamb, unless we feed on your lips.

BOYET

Why can't we be ships instead? We'll only be sheep, my sweet child, if we can kiss you.

MARIA

You sheep, and I pasture: shall that finish the jest?

MARIA

If you are a sheep, then I am a field...is that the joke?

BOYET

So you grant pasture for me.

BOYET

If your field is mine....

Offering to kiss her

MARIA

Not so, gentle beast:My lips are no common, though several they be.

MARIA

No, my gentle animal. Although my lips are parted, that does not mean they are for any common person to enjoy.

BOYET

Belonging to whom?

BOYET

Who do they belong to?

MARIA

To my fortunes and me.

MARIA

To my fate, and to me.

PRINCESS

Good wits will be jangling; but, gentles, agree:This civil war of wits were much better usedOn Navarre and his book-men; for here 'tis abused.

PRINCESS

Clever people will always bicker, but come now friends, and get along. Save this battle of wits and use it on the king of Navarre and his book-loving friends; it is wasted here.

BOYET

If my observation, which very seldom lies,By the heart's still rhetoric disclosed with eyes,Deceive me not now, Navarre is infected.

BOYET

If my observations are correct, which they normally are, I have seen in the king's eyes, things which his heart has tried to hide. I am certain, the king of Navarre is sick.

PRINCESS

With what?

PRINCESS

With what?

BOYET

With that which we lovers entitle affected.

BOYET

The thing that romantics would call being lovesick.

PRINCESS

Your reason?

PRINCESS

Why do you think this?

BOYET

Why, all his behaviors did make their retire To the court of his eye, peeping thorough desire: His heart, like an agate, with your print impress'd, Proud with his form, in his eye pride express'd: His tongue, all impatient to speak and not see, Did stumble with haste in his eyesight to be; All senses to that sense did make their repair, To feel only looking on fairest of fair: Methought all his senses were lock'd in his eye, As jewels in crystal for some prince to buy; Who, tendering their own worth from where they were glass'd, Did point you to buy them, along as you pass'd: His face's own margent did quote such amazes That all eyes saw his eyes enchanted with gazes. I'll give you Aquitaine and all that is his, An you give him for my sake but one loving kiss.

BOYET

Well, all of his emotions were hidden in his eyes, as his desires peeped out of them. His heart was like a precious stone, and it was your name that was engraved into it, and he was proud of this engraving, I could see it in his eyes! His tongue, desperate to speak, stumbled over his words as he looked at you. All of his senses made his way to his eye, to feel what it was like to look at the most beautiful person. I felt like I could see all of his senses in his eye, like jewels in a glass container that a prince could buy and, having offered you everything he could, did hope that you would be convinced by them, during your conversation. His own face gave away the amazing things he felt about the Princess, as everything he saw made his eyes light up. I'll get you Aquitaine and all that is his, all you have to do is give him one loving kiss!

PRINCESS

Come to our pavilion: Boyet is disposed.

PRINCESS

Let's go to our tent, Boyet is in a silly mood.

BOYET

But to speak that in words which his eye hathdisclosed.I only have made a mouth of his eye,By adding a tongue which I know will not lie.

BOYET

But I am only telling you things that I have seen in his eyes; I am only telling you about true feelings that he cannot yet put into words.

ROSALINE

Thou art an old love-monger and speakest skilfully.

ROSALINE

You are an old match-maker and you speak very well.

MARIA

He is Cupid's grandfather and learns news of him.

MARIA

He is Cupid's grandfather and finds out things from him.

ROSALINE

Then was Venus like her mother, for her father is but grim.

ROSALINE

Then Venus must be beautiful like her mother, since her father is ugly.

BOYET

Do you hear, my mad wenches?

BOYET

Do you understand what I've told you, you foolish women?

MARIA

No.

MARIA

No.

BOYET

What then, do you see?

BOYET

What then, do you see?

ROSALINE

Ay, our way to be gone.

ROSALINE

Oh yes, our cue to leave.

BOYET

You are too hard for me.

BOYET

You are too much for me to deal with.

Exeunt

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Lani strange
About the Translator: Lani Strange

Lani is currently studying for an MA in Shakespeare Studies at King's College London and Shakespeare's Globe. She has a BA in English and Latin Literature from the University of Warwick and worked as a Teacher of Drama for a year in between her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. She has a love for all things theatrical and spends all of her free time either watching theatre or taking part in it herself.