A line-by-line translation

Macbeth

Macbeth Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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ROSS and an OLD MAN enter.

OLD MAN

Threescore and ten I can remember well, Within the volume of which time I have seen Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore night Hath trifled former knowings.

OLD MAN

I remember the past seventy years. In that time, I’ve seen some strange and dreadful things. But what I saw last night made everything I’ve seen before seem like nothing.

ROSS

Ha, good father, Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man’s act, Threatens his bloody stage. By th’ clock ’tis day, And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp. Is ’t night’s predominance or the day’s shame That darkness does the face of Earth entomb When living light should kiss it?

ROSS

Yes, old man. The skies—troubled by the acts of men—threaten the bloody earth with storms. According to a clock it’s daytime, yet dark night continues to strangle the sun. Is darkness covering the earth when it’s supposed to be light because the night is so powerful? Or is the day ashamed to show itself?

OLD MAN

‘Tis unnatural, Even like the deed that’s done. On Tuesday last, A falcon, tow’ring in her pride of place, Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.

OLD MAN

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ROSS

And Duncan’s horses—a thing most strange and certain— Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race, Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out, Contending ‘gainst obedience, as they would Make war with mankind.

ROSS

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OLD MAN

‘Tis said they eat each other.

OLD MAN

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ROSS

They did so, to th’ amazement of mine eyes That looked upon ’t. Here comes the good Macduff.

ROSS

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MACDUFF enters.

ROSS

How goes the world, sir, now?

ROSS

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MACDUFF

Why, see you not?

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Is ’t known who did this more than bloody deed?

ROSS

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MACDUFF

Those that Macbeth hath slain.

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Alas, the day!What good could they pretend?

ROSS

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MACDUFF

They were suborned. Malcolm and Donalbain, the king’s two sons, Are stol’n away and fled, which puts upon them Suspicion of the deed.

MACDUFF

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ROSS

‘Gainst nature still! Thriftless ambition, that will raven up Thine own lives’ means! Then ’tis most like The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.

ROSS

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MACDUFF

He is already named and gone to SconeTo be invested.

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Where is Duncan’s body?

ROSS

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MACDUFF

Carried to Colmekill,The sacred storehouse of his predecessors,And guardian of their bones.

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Will you to Scone?

ROSS

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MACDUFF

No, cousin, I’ll to Fife.

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Well, I will thither.

ROSS

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MACDUFF

Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu,Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!

MACDUFF

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ROSS

Farewell, father.

ROSS

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OLD MAN

God’s benison go with you and with thoseThat would make good of bad and friends of foes.

OLD MAN

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All exit.

Macbeth
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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.