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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

It’s unnatural—just like the murder that was committed. Last Tuesday, as a falcon soared in its rightful place high in the sky, it was attacked and killed by an owl, whose normal prey are mice.

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

And this is also just as strange: Duncan’s beautiful and fast horses—the best of their breed—went wild and broke out of their stalls. They all refused to be calmed, and acted as if they were at war with mankind.

OLD MAN

‘Tis said they eat each other.

OLD MAN

It’s said that the horses ate each other.

ROSS

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

ROSS

They did. I witnessed it, and was astonished. Here comes the good Macduff.

MACDUFF enters.

ROSS

How goes the world, sir, now?

ROSS

How are things going, sir?

MACDUFF

Why, see you not?

MACDUFF

Why, can’t you see?

ROSS

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

ROSS

Is it known who committed this bloody crime?

MACDUFF

Those that Macbeth hath slain.

MACDUFF

The servants that Macbeth killed.

ROSS

Alas, the day!What good could they pretend?

ROSS

Oh, what a terrible day! What could they have hoped to gain?

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

They were bribed. The king’s two sons Malcolm and Donalbain have snuck off and fled, which makes them the main suspects.

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

Even more unnatural! What a wasteful ambition that would cause sons to kill the very thing that gave them life! Then it seems most likely that Macbeth will become king.

MACDUFF

He is already named and gone to SconeTo be invested.

MACDUFF

He’s already been named king and has left for Scone for the coronation.

ROSS

Where is Duncan’s body?

ROSS

Where is Duncan’s body?

MACDUFF

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

MACDUFF

It’s been carried to Colmekill, the sacred burial place for all Scottish kings that guards their bones.

ROSS

Will you to Scone?

ROSS

Will you now head to Scone?

MACDUFF

No, cousin, I’ll to Fife.

MACDUFF

No, cousin, I’m going to my home in Fife.

ROSS

Well, I will thither.

ROSS

Well, I’ll go to Scone.

MACDUFF

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

MACDUFF

May the ceremony there go well. Goodbye! Here’s hoping that our new king is as suited to the role as our old king was.

ROSS

Farewell, father.

ROSS

Farewell, old man.

OLD MAN

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

OLD MAN

God’s blessing on you, and on all who make good things out of bad, and turn enemies into friends!

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.