A line-by-line translation

Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 2, Scene 1

Line Map Clear Line Map Add

BANQUO enters with FLEANCE, who carries a torch.

BANQUO

How goes the night, boy?

BANQUO

What time is it, boy?

FLEANCE

The moon is down. I have not heard the clock.

FLEANCE

The moon has set. I haven’t heard a clock strike, though.

BANQUO

And she goes down at twelve.

BANQUO

The moon sets at twelve.

FLEANCE

I take ’t ’tis later, sir.

FLEANCE

I think it’s later than that, sir.

BANQUO

Hold, take my sword. There’s husbandry in heaven; Their candles are all out. Take thee that too. A heavy summons lies like lead upon me, And yet I would not sleep. Merciful powers, Restrain in me the cursèd thoughts that nature Gives way to in repose.

BANQUO

Wait, take my sword. The heavens are being thrifty, keeping the stars dark. Take this, too. [He gives FLEANCE his belt and dagger] Sleepiness weighs on me like lead, but I don’t want to sleep. Angels of mercy, help me to control the evil thoughts that fill my mind whenever I lay down to rest.

MACBETH enters with a SERVANT, who carries a torch.

BANQUO

Give me my sword. Who’s there?

BANQUO

Give me my sword. Who’s there?

MACBETH

A friend.

MACBETH

A friend.

BANQUO

What, sir, not yet at rest? The king’s a-bed. He hath been in unusual pleasure, and Sent forth great largess to your offices. This diamond he greets your wife withal, By the name of most kind hostess, and shut up In measureless content.

BANQUO

What, you’re not asleep yet? The king’s in bed. He’s been unusually pleased, and has given gift after gift to your servants. He wants to give this diamond to your wife for being such an attentive hostess and ensuring his total comfort.

MACBETH

Being unprepared,Our will became the servant to defect,Which else should free have wrought.

MACBETH

As we were unprepared for his visit, we could only be imperfect hosts. If we had been prepared, everything would have been much better.

BANQUO

All’s well.I dreamt last night of the three weird sisters: To you they have showed some truth.

BANQUO

Everything is all right. I had a dream last night about the three witches. Some of their predictions about you have come true.

MACBETH

I think not of them. Yet, when we can entreat an hour to serve, We would spend it in some words upon that business, If you would grant the time.

MACBETH

I don’t think about them. But when we have an hour to spare, I’d like to talk about it a bit more, if you’d be willing.

BANQUO

At your kind’st leisure.

BANQUO

Whenever you like.

MACBETH

If you shall cleave to my consent, when ’tis, It shall make honor for you.

MACBETH

If you will agree to follow me when the time comes, it will result in more honor for you.

BANQUO

So I lose none In seeking to augment it, but still keep My bosom franchised and allegiance clear, I shall be counselled.

BANQUO

As long as I don’t lose any honor in trying to gain more, and can keep a clear conscience, I will listen to you.

MACBETH

Good repose the while!

MACBETH

In the meantime, rest well.

BANQUO

Thanks, sir: the like to you!

BANQUO

Thanks, sir. The same to you!

BANQUO and FLEANCE exit.

MACBETH

[to the SERVANT] Go bid thy mistress, when my drink is ready,She strike upon the bell. Get thee to bed.

MACBETH

[To the SERVANT] Go and tell Lady Macbeth that, when my drink is ready, she should strike the bell. Then get yourself to bed.

The SERVANT exits.

MACBETH

Is this a dagger which I see before me, The handle toward my hand? Come, let me clutch thee. I have thee not, and yet I see thee still. Art thou not, fatal vision, sensible To feeling as to sight? Or art thou but A dagger of the mind, a false creation, Proceeding from the heat-oppressèd brain? I see thee yet, in form as palpable As this which now I draw. Thou marshall’st me the way that I was going, And such an instrument I was to use. Mine eyes are made the fools o’ th’ other senses, Or else worth all the rest. I see thee still, And on thy blade and dudgeon gouts of blood, Which was not so before. There’s no such thing. It is the bloody business which informs Thus to mine eyes. Now o’er the one half-world Nature seems dead, and wicked dreams abuse The curtained sleep. Witchcraft celebrates Pale Hecate’s offerings, and withered murder, Alarumed by his sentinel, the wolf, Whose howl’s his watch, thus with his stealthy pace, With Tarquin’s ravishing strides, towards his design Moves like a ghost. Thou sure and firm-set earth, Hear not my steps, which way they walk, for fear Thy very stones prate of my whereabout, And take the present horror from the time, Which now suits with it. Whiles I threat, he lives. Words to the heat of deeds too cold breath gives.

MACBETH

Is this a dagger I see in front of me, with its handle aimed toward my hand? Come here, dagger, and let me grasp you. [He grabs at the dagger but his hand passes right through] I don’t have you, and yet I can still see you. Deadly apparition, is it possible to see you but not touch you? Or are you just a dagger created by the mind, an illusion of my feverish brain? I still see you, and you look as real as this other dagger that I’m unsheathing now. [He draws a dagger] You’re leading me the way I was going already, and I was going to use a weapon just like you. Either my eyesight is the only sense of mine that isn’t working, or it’s the only one that’s working correctly. I still see you—and some spots of blood on your blade and handle that weren’t there before. This dagger doesn’t exist. It’s the murder I’m planning that’s affecting my eyes. Now half the world is asleep and being attacked by nightmares. Witches offer sacrifices to their goddess Hecate. Meanwhile old man Murder—having been awakened by the howls of his wolf—walks like a ghost, like that ancient Roman rapist Tarquin, to do the deed. You firm, hard earth: don’t listen to my steps or their direction. I fear the stones will echo and reveal where I am, breaking the awful silence that suits what I’m about to do so well. While I talk here about the plan, Duncan lives. Speaking cools the heat of my willingness to act.

A bell rings.

MACBETH

I go, and it is done. The bell invites me.Hear it not, Duncan, for it is a knellThat summons thee to heaven or to hell.

MACBETH

Now I go, and the deed is as good as done. The bell invites me to act. Duncan, don't hear the bell, because it is the sound of your summon to heaven or to hell.

MACBETH exits.

Macbeth
Join LitCharts A+ and get the entire Macbeth Translation as a printable PDF.
LitCharts A+ members also get exclusive access to:
  • Downloadable translations of every Shakespeare play and sonnet
  • Downloads of 671 LitCharts Lit Guides
  • Explanations and citation info for 16,595 quotes covering 671 books
  • Teacher Editions for every Lit Guide
  • PDFs defining 136 key Lit Terms
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.