A line-by-line translation

Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter DUKE VINCENTIO, ESCALUS, Lords and Attendants

DUKE VINCENTIO

Escalus.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Escalus.

ESCALUS

My lord.

ESCALUS

My lord.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Of government the properties to unfold, Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse; Since I am put to know that your own science Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice My strength can give you: then no more remains, But that to your sufficiency as your Worth is able, And let them work. The nature of our people, Our city's institutions, and the terms For common justice, you're as pregnant in As art and practise hath enriched any That we remember. There is our commission, From which we would not have you warp. Call hither, I say, bid come before us Angelo.

DUKE VINCENTIO

It seems like I should make a speech to explain all the ins and outs of government to you. But since I know that your knowledge of that exceeds all the lists of advice I would give you, there's nothing left to do other than to put them into your capable hands and let them work. When it comes to the nature of our people, our city's institutions, and the standards of public law, you have as much theory and practice as anyone I can remember. There's our commission, from which I don't want you to waver.

[To an attendant] Hey, call up Angelo; ask him to come to me.

Exit an attendant

What figure of us think you he will bear? For you must know, we have with special soul Elected him our absence to supply, Lent him our terror, dress'd him with our love, And given his deputation all the organs Of our own power: what think you of it?

How do you think Angelo will measure up to me? You should know that I've especially chosen him to fill in during my absence: I've given him my authority, dressed him in my love, and granted him access to all the implements of my own power. What do you think about it?

ESCALUS

If any in Vienna be of worthTo undergo such ample grace and honour,It is Lord Angelo.

ESCALUS

If anyone in Vienna is worthy of such plentiful grace and honor, it is Lord Angelo.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Look where he comes.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Look, here he comes.

Enter ANGELO

ANGELO

Always obedient to your grace's will,I come to know your pleasure.

ANGELO

I am always obedient to you, your Grace. I came to find out what you want.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Angelo, There is a kind of character in thy life, That to the observer doth thy history Fully unfold. Thyself and thy belongings Are not thine own so proper as to waste Thyself upon thy virtues, they on thee. Heaven doth with us as we with torches do, Not light them for themselves; for if our virtues Did not go forth of us, 'twere all alike As if we had them not. Spirits are not finely touch'd But to fine issues, nor Nature never lends The smallest scruple of her excellence But, like a thrifty goddess, she determines Herself the glory of a creditor, Both thanks and use. But I do bend my speech To one that can my part in him advertise; Hold therefore, Angelo: In our remove be thou at full ourself; Mortality and mercy in Vienna Live in thy tongue and heart: old Escalus, Though first in question, is thy secondary. Take thy commission.

DUKE VINCENTIO

Angelo, there is a level of quality in your life that makes your whole story apparent to any observer. Your circumstances and your very self are not exclusively your own, for you to weary yourself in becoming virtuous. Heaven does with us what we do with torches; we don't light them for their own sake. If our virtues didn't radiate from us, it would be as if we didn't have them. Our spirits are finely created to do fine things. Nature's a penny-pinching goddess: she won't give even the tiniest piece of greatness without figuring out how she will profit from it—both from people thanking her for it, and from them using it. But I'm speaking to someone that can take on my role himself. Kneel, then, Angelo. [ANGELO kneels]  With my permission: be completely like me. Mortality and mercy in Vienna are at your word and in your heart. Old Escalus, though my right-hand man, is second to you. Take your commission.

ANGELO

Now, good my lord,Let there be some more test made of my metal,Before so noble and so great a figureBe stamp'd upon it.

ANGELO

But now, my good lord, there should be some more tests for me to go through before I'm given such a noble and important job.

DUKE VINCENTIO

No more evasion: We have with a leaven'd and prepared choice Proceeded to you; therefore take your honours. Our haste from hence is of so quick condition That it prefers itself and leaves unquestion'd Matters of needful value. We shall write to you, As time and our concernings shall importune, How it goes with us, and do look to know What doth befall you here. So, fare you well; To the hopeful execution do I leave you Of your commissions.

DUKE VINCENTIO

No more side-stepping. I carefully considered and deliberated before I chose you, so take your role. My exit has to be so quick that I have to leave now–-we won't have time to cover some of the important matters. I'll write to you, as time and circumstances require, and let you know how things are going with me. And I'll want to know what's happened to you here. So, take care. I leave you to your post with the highest expectations.

ANGELO

Yet give leave, my lord,That we may bring you something on the way.

ANGELO

My lord, may I have permission to bring you something along the way?

DUKE VINCENTIO

My haste may not admit it; Nor need you, on mine honour, have to do With any scruple; your scope is as mine own So to enforce or qualify the laws As to your soul seems good. Give me your hand: I'll privily away. I love the people, But do not like to stage me to their eyes: Though it do well, I do not relish well Their loud applause and Aves vehement; Nor do I think the man of safe discretion That does affect it. Once more, fare you well.

DUKE VINCENTIO

I'm in too much of a hurry to allow it. And I swear on my honor that I don't need you to have anything to do with any controversy. Your power is the same as my own; you can enforce or modify the laws as you see fit. Give me your hand: I'll leave discreetly. I love the people, but I don't like being watched all the time. Though it does good in the long run, I don't really enjoy their loud applause and shouting, "Hail!"–-and I don't know any trustworthy man that does enjoy it. Once again, take care!

ANGELO

The heavens give safety to your purposes!

ANGELO

May the heavens keep you safe on your journey!

ESCALUS

Lead forth and bring you back in happiness!

ESCALUS

May they guide you and bring you back happy!

DUKE

I thank you. Fare you well.

DUKE

Thank you. Goodbye.

Exit

ESCALUS

I shall desire you, sir, to give me leave To have free speech with you; and it concerns me To look into the bottom of my place: A power I have, but of what strength and nature I am not yet instructed.

ESCALUS

Sir, I ask you to give me permission to speak freely with you. I want to fully understand my position: I know I have power, but I'm not sure its extent, and what it entails.

ANGELO

'Tis so with me. Let us withdraw together,And we may soon our satisfaction haveTouching that point.

ANGELO

I agree. Let's leave together so that we can quickly reach an agreement on that point.

ESCALUS

I'll wait upon your honour.

ESCALUS

I'll follow you, your Honor.

Exeunt

Measure for measure
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Bailey sincox
About the Translator: Bailey Sincox

Bailey Sincox is a PhD student in English at Harvard University, where she researches the theatre of Shakespeare and his contemporaries. Her teaching experience includes accessible online courses with edX on Hamlet and The Merchant of Venice. She holds a Master's from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's from Duke University.