A line-by-line translation

Love's Labor's Lost

Love's Labor's Lost Translation Act 4, Scene 1

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Enter the PRINCESS, and her train, a Forester, BOYET, ROSALINE, MARIA, and KATHARINE

PRINCESS

Was that the king, that spurred his horse so hardAgainst the steep uprising of the hill?

PRINCESS

Did I just see the king, riding his horse fiercely, as they went up that hill?

BOYET

I know not; but I think it was not he.

BOYET

I don't know, but I don't think it was him. 

PRINCESS

Whoe'er a' was, a' show'd a mounting mind. Well, lords, to-day we shall have our dispatch: On Saturday we will return to France. Then, forester, my friend, where is the bush That we must stand and play the murderer in?

PRINCESS

Well whoever it was, they seem ambitious. Anyway, lords, today we shall be given permission to leave, and we will return to France on Saturday. Tell me forester, where should a hunter stand when committing murder?

FORESTER

Hereby, upon the edge of yonder coppice;A stand where you may make the fairest shoot.

FORESTER

Right here, on the edge of this green space. Stand here and you will make a beautiful shot.

PRINCESS

I thank my beauty, I am fair that shoot,And thereupon thou speak'st the fairest shoot.

PRINCESS

I guess that compared to other hunters I am beautiful, and that's an advantage. It means that you can call me a beautiful shooter.  

FORESTER

Pardon me, madam, for I meant not so.

FORESTER

Sorry madam, I didn't mean it like that.

PRINCESS

What, what? first praise me and again say no?O short-lived pride! Not fair? alack for woe!

PRINCESS

What sir? You are going to praise me and then take it away immediately? Oh short-lived flattery! You don't think I'm beautiful?! Oh poor me!

FORESTER

Yes, madam, fair.

FORESTER

Madam, you are beautiful.

PRINCESS

Nay, never paint me now:Where fair is not, praise cannot mend the brow.Here, good my glass, take this for telling true:Fair payment for foul words is more than due.

PRINCESS

Don't you try to flatter me now—if I am not actually beautiful then your words alone cannot change that. [Giving him money] Thank you for being my mirror and telling me the truth, you deserve this money even if the words are hurtful.

FORESTER

Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.

FORESTER

You are only made up of beautiful things.

PRINCESS

See see, my beauty will be saved by merit! O heresy in fair, fit for these days! A giving hand, though foul, shall have fair praise. But come, the bow: now mercy goes to kill, And shooting well is then accounted ill. Thus will I save my credit in the shoot: Not wounding, pity would not let me do't; If wounding, then it was to show my skill, That more for praise than purpose meant to kill. And out of question so it is sometimes, Glory grows guilty of detested crimes, When, for fame's sake, for praise, an outward part, We bend to that the working of the heart; As I for praise alone now seek to spill The poor deer's blood, that my heart means no ill.

PRINCESS

Look, my beauty can be saved by money! Oh it is a violation of beauty but is only too suitable these days! A generous hand, even though it is an ugly thing, can receive a lot of praise. Anyway, give me the bow. Now I, in my mercy, must kill this deer, and even if I shoot well, my shot should be considered a bad thing. Indeed, I can save my reputation in this shoot as, if I don't hit the deer, then I can say that my pity made me miss it on purpose, or, if I do hit the deer, then I only did it to show my skill and to be praised, not because I wanted to kill it. And it is undeniable that sometimes, people have to do things that they hate in order to gain the honor that they want. It is for the fame, for the praise, these superficial things, that we commit our hearts to this activity. So I now aim to spill this poor deer's blood only for fame, not because I want to harm it at all.

BOYET

Do not curst wives hold that self-sovereigntyOnly for praise sake, when they strive to beLords o'er their lords?

BOYET

Don't difficult wives like to have power over their husbands, simply for the praise they will get when they boss them around?

PRINCESS

Only for praise: and praise we may affordTo any lady that subdues a lord.

PRINCESS

Yes, only for the praise, and indeed we give this praise to any lady that manages to get the better of her husband.

BOYET

Here comes a member of the commonwealth.

BOYET

Oh look, here comes one of the common men.

Enter COSTARD

COSTARD

God dig-you-den all! Pray you, which is the head lady?

COSTARd

Good day to you all! Who is the head lady?

PRINCESS

Thou shalt know her, fellow, by the rest that have no heads.

PRINCESS

Surely you will know her, boy, by the fact that she is the only one with a head.

COSTARD

Which is the greatest lady, the highest?

COSTARD

Okay, which of you is the greatest lady, the highest one?

PRINCESS

The thickest and the tallest.

PRINCESS

The fattest and the tallest one.

COSTARD

The thickest and the tallest! it is so; truth is truth. An your waist, mistress, were as slender as my wit, One o' these maids' girdles for your waist should be fit. Are not you the chief woman? you are the thickest here.

COSTARD

The fattest and the tallest! Of course! That must be it! Imagine mistress, if your waist was as small as my brain is, you would be able to fit into any of these maids' corsets!
But since you are the fattest here, does that mean that you are the woman in charge?

PRINCESS

What's your will, sir? what's your will?

PRINCESS

What do you want, sir? Why are you here?

COSTARD

I have a letter from Monsieur Biron to one Lady Rosaline.

COSTARD

I have a letter from Monsieur Biron to one Lady Rosaline.

PRINCESS

O, thy letter, thy letter! he's a good friend of mine:Stand aside, good bearer. Boyet, you can carve;Break up this capon.

PRINCESS

[Taking the letter] Oh a letter, a letter! Biron is a good friend of mine, so hand it over messenger. Boyet, you can open it—let's hear this love letter.

BOYET

I am bound to serve.This letter is mistook, it importeth none here;It is writ to Jaquenetta.

BOYET

As you wish. Hang on a minute, this letter must be a mistake, it has nothing to do with anyone here. This letter is for Jaquenetta.

PRINCESS

We will read it, I swear.Break the neck of the wax, and every one give ear.

PRINCESS

We will read it, I insist. Open up the letter and let everyone hear what it has to say.

Reads

BOYET

'By heaven, that thou art fair, is most infallible; true, that thou art beauteous; truth itself, that thou art lovely. More fairer than fair, beautiful than beauteous, truer than truth itself, have commiseration on thy heroical vassal! The magnanimous and most illustrate king Cophetua set eye upon the pernicious and indubitate beggar Zenelophon; and he it was that might rightly say, Veni, vidi, vici; which to annothanize in the vulgar,—O base and obscure vulgar!—videlicet, He came, saw, and overcame: he came, one; saw two; overcame, three. Who came? the king: why did he come? to see: why did he see? to overcome: to whom came he? to the beggar: what saw he? the beggar: who overcame he? the beggar. The conclusion is victory: on whose side? the king's. The captive is enriched: on whose side? the beggar's. The catastrophe is a nuptial: on whose side? the king's: no, or both in one, or one in both. I am the king; for so stands the comparison: thou the beggar; for so witnesseth thy lowliness. Shall I command thy love? I may: shall I enforce thy love? I could: shall I entreat thy love? I will. What shalt thou exchange for rags? robes; for tittles? titles; for thyself? me. Thus, expecting thy reply, I profane my lips on thy foot, my eyes on thy picture. and my heart on thy every part. Thine, in the dearest design of industry, ADRIANODE ARMADO.' Thus dost thou hear the Nemean lion roar 'Gainst thee, thou lamb, that standest as his prey. Submissive fall his princely feet before, And he from forage will incline to play: But if thou strive, poor soul, what art thou then? Food for his rage, repasture for his den.

BOYET

[Reading] "By heaven, it is certain that you are beautiful; it is true that you are pretty and it is even more true that you are lovely. You are more beautiful that the word beautiful suggests, you are prettier than a pretty person, you are truer than truth itself, so have some pity on your heroic slave! Once, the great and illustrious King Cophetua set eyes upon the fatal and undoubtable beggar Zenelophon and right away he might have said "Veni, vidi, vici,"  which to explain in common language for the common people, means, "He came, he saw, he conquered." First he came, then he saw, and then he conquered. Who came? The King! Why did he come? To see! Why did he need to see? To conquer! Who did he come to? The beggar! What did he see? The beggar! What did he conquer? The beggar! The conclusion of this is a victory—but for who? The King. The prisoner has been improved, but who is the prisoner? The beggar. This ended in a marriage, but on whose side? The King's? No. Or were they both married, or married together. I am the King in this story, and so you must be the beggar, because of your poverty. Shall I order you to love me? I might. Shall I force you to love me? I could. Shall I ask you to love me? I will. What will you get in exchange? For your rags, you will get amazing dresses; for your pennies you will now get titles; for yourself you will get me. I am waiting for your reply. I will kiss your foot, I will stare at your picture, and will heart will constantly think of you.

Yours, with the most loving intentions. Don Adriano de Armado." 

You must hear the Nemean lion as it roars at you, you are its lamb, its prey. Fall before its paws obediently, and he will turn from aggressive to playful immediately. But if you fight against him, you poor thing, what will happen to you then? You will simply be food for his anger, a meal for his family.

PRINCESS

What plume of feathers is he that indited this letter?What vane? what weathercock? did you ever hear better?

PRINCESS

What kind of show-off wrote this letter? What kind of inconstant and unreliable man is he? Have you ever heard something so ridiculous?

BOYET

I am much deceived but I remember the style.

BOYET

I am convinced that I know the person who has written it.

PRINCESS

Else your memory is bad, going o'er it erewhile.

PRINCESS

Well I should hope so, or your memory isn't very good—you only just read it!

BOYET

This Armado is a Spaniard, that keeps here in court;A phantasime, a Monarcho, and one that makes sportTo the prince and his bookmates.

BOYET

This "Armado" is a Spanish man that stays here in the court. He lives in his own, mad fantasy world, and is a source of amusement for the prince and his fellow students.

PRINCESS

Thou fellow, a word:Who gave thee this letter?

PRINCESS

A word, Costard. Who gave you this letter?

COSTARD

I told you; my lord.

COSTARD

I told you—my lord.

PRINCESS

To whom shouldst thou give it?

PRINCESS

Who did he tell you to give it to?

COSTARD

From my lord to my lady.

COSTARD

He said to give it to my lady, from my lord.

PRINCESS

From which lord to which lady?

PRINCESS

From which lord to which lady?

COSTARD

From my lord Biron, a good master of mine,To a lady of France that he call'd Rosaline.

COSTARD

It came from my lord Biron, a good master of mine, to be given to a lady of France that he said was called Rosaline.

PRINCESS

Thou hast mistaken his letter. Come, lords, away.

PRINCESS

You have got the wrong letter. Come, lords, let's go.

To ROSALINE

PRINCESS

Here, sweet, put up this: 'twill be thine another day.

PRINCESS

[To ROSALINE] Here you go, my sweet friend, keep this—it will truly be yours one day soon.

Exeunt PRINCESS and train

BOYET

Who is the suitor? who is the suitor?

BOYET

Who is the next shooter? Who is the next shooter?

ROSALINE

Shall I teach you to know?

ROSALINE

Shall I let you in on a secret?

BOYET

Ay, my continent of beauty.

BOYET

Why yes, you beautiful thing.

ROSALINE

Why, she that bears the bow.Finely put off!

ROSALINE

Well of course, it's the person that has the bow. Dodged that one well!

BOYET

My lady goes to kill horns; but, if thou marry,Hang me by the neck, if horns that year miscarry.Finely put on!

BOYET

My lady is going to kill deer right now, but if you ever marry, then I'll be sure, men aren't getting what they want. What a good come back!

ROSALINE

Well, then, I am the shooter.

ROSALINE

Okay then, I am the shooter.

BOYET

And who is your deer?

BOYET

And who will be your prey?

ROSALINE

If we choose by the horns, yourself come not near.Finely put on, indeed!

ROSALINE

If we're looking for the things that have horns, then you should probably stay out of my way. Take that!

MARIA

You still wrangle with her, Boyet, and she strikesat the brow.

MARIA

You keep trying to argue with her Boyet, but she hits you right in the head.

BOYET

But she herself is hit lower: have I hit her now?

BOYET

But she herself has been hit lower, in the heart, hasn't she? Have I got to her now?

ROSALINE

Shall I come upon thee with an old saying, that wasa man when King Pepin of France was a little boy, astouching the hit it?

ROSALINE

Shall I fight back against you with such an old saying, that was around even when King Pepin of France was a little boy, in song?

BOYET

So I may answer thee with one as old, that was awoman when Queen Guinover of Britain was a littlewench, as touching the hit it.

BOYET

As long as I can reply with a similarly old saying, that had been around for a while even when Queen Guinevere of Britain was a little girl herself, if that would do it?

ROSALINE

Thou canst not hit it, hit it, hit it,Thou canst not hit it, my good man.

ROSALINE

[Singing] You cannot hit the mark, you cannot hit the mark,
You cannot hit the right thing, my good man.

BOYET

An I cannot, cannot, cannot,An I cannot, another can.

BOYET

If I cannot, if I cannot,
Then I'm sure another can.

Exeunt ROSALINE and KATHARINE

COSTARD

By my troth, most pleasant: how both did fit it!

COSTARD

My goodness, what an exchange of words!

MARIA

A mark marvellous well shot, for they both did hit it.

MARIA

A target that has been well shot, seeing as they both did hit their mark.

BOYET

A mark! O, mark but that mark! A mark, says my lady!Let the mark have a prick in't, to mete at, if it may be.

BOYET

A target! Oh, remember that target! A target, says my lady! Let that target have a bull's-eye in it and I will take aim now.

MARIA

Wide o' the bow hand! i' faith, your hand is out.

MARIA

You are aiming too wide from the target! Indeed, you are out of practice.

COSTARD

Indeed, a' must shoot nearer, or he'll ne'er hit the clout.

COSTARD

Indeed, he should shoot from closer, or he will never hit the cloth at all.

BOYET

An if my hand be out, then belike your hand is in.

BOYET

Well if my hand isn't touching anything, then yours must be.

COSTARD

Then will she get the upshoot by cleaving the pin.

COSTARD

Then she'll get the best shot in the end.

MARIA

Come, come, you talk greasily; your lips grow foul.

MARIA

Stop that now, don't say such indecent things—your mouth is dirty.

COSTARD

She's too hard for you at pricks, sir: challenge her tobowl.

COSTARD

She's too good at archery for you, sir. Challenge her to bowl instead.

BOYET

I fear too much rubbing. Good night, my good owl.

BOYET

I fear the balls will rub too much. Good night, you wise thing.

Exeunt BOYET and MARIA

COSTARD

By my soul, a swain! a most simple clown! Lord, Lord, how the ladies and I have put him down! O' my troth, most sweet jests! most incony vulgar wit! When it comes so smoothly off, so obscenely, as it were, so fit. Armado o' th' one side,—O, a most dainty man! To see him walk before a lady and to bear her fan! To see him kiss his hand! and how most sweetly a' will swear! And his page o' t' other side, that handful of wit! Ah, heavens, it is a most pathetical nit! Sola, sola!

COSTARD

Oh dear, what a suitor! Such a simple fellow! Lord, lord, how the ladies and I have mocked him! Oh my word, what hilarious jokes! What fine, common wit! When it is done so well, so crudely, it seems so fitting! Yet, there is also Armado, and what a particular kind of man he is! I love seeing him walking in front of a woman, fanning her! I love seeing him kiss his own hand and swearing his love for a woman so strongly! Then there is also his page, that small clever thing! Oh heavens, he is quite a touching little guy! [Shouts are heard within] Hey there, hey there!

Exit COSTARD, running

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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.