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

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FORESTER

Pardon me, madam, for I meant not so.

FORESTER

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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FORESTER

Yes, madam, fair.

FORESTER

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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

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FORESTER

Nothing but fair is that which you inherit.

FORESTER

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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

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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BOYET

Here comes a member of the commonwealth.

BOYET

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Enter COSTARD

COSTARD

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

COSTARd

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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COSTARD

Which is the greatest lady, the highest?

COSTARD

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PRINCESS

The thickest and the tallest.

PRINCESS

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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

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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COSTARD

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

COSTARD

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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

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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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

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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BOYET

I am much deceived but I remember the style.

BOYET

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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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

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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COSTARD

I told you; my lord.

COSTARD

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PRINCESS

To whom shouldst thou give it?

PRINCESS

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COSTARD

From my lord to my lady.

COSTARD

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PRINCESS

From which lord to which lady?

PRINCESS

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COSTARD

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

COSTARD

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PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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To ROSALINE

PRINCESS

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

PRINCESS

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Exeunt PRINCESS and train

BOYET

Who is the suitor? who is the suitor?

BOYET

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ROSALINE

Shall I teach you to know?

ROSALINE

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BOYET

Ay, my continent of beauty.

BOYET

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ROSALINE

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

ROSALINE

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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

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ROSALINE

Well, then, I am the shooter.

ROSALINE

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BOYET

And who is your deer?

BOYET

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ROSALINE

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

ROSALINE

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MARIA

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

MARIA

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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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

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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

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ROSALINE

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

ROSALINE

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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Exeunt ROSALINE and KATHARINE

COSTARD

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

COSTARD

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MARIA

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

MARIA

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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

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MARIA

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

MARIA

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COSTARD

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

COSTARD

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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COSTARD

Then will she get the upshoot by cleaving the pin.

COSTARD

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MARIA

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

MARIA

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COSTARD

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

COSTARD

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BOYET

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

BOYET

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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

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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.