A line-by-line translation

Measure for Measure

Measure for Measure Translation Act 1, Scene 2

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Enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen

LUCIO

If the duke with the other dukes come not tocomposition with the King of Hungary, why then allthe dukes fall upon the king.

LUCIO

If the Duke and the other dukes don't unite with the King of Hungary, then all the dukes will rebel against the king.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Heaven grant us its peace, but not the King ofHungary's!

FIRST GENTLEMAN

May heaven give us peace, but not peace with the King of Hungary!

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Amen.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Amen.

LUCIO

Thou concludest like the sanctimonious pirate, thatwent to sea with the Ten Commandments, but scrapedone out of the table.

LUCIO

You sound like the hypocritical pirate, who took the Ten Commandments with him to sea, but scraped one of the commandments off.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

"Thou shalt not steal?"

SECOND GENTLEMAN

"Thou shalt not steal?"

LUCIO

Ay, that he razed.

LUCIO

Yes, he burned that one off.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Why, 'twas a commandment to command the captain and all the rest from their functions: they put forth to steal. There's not a soldier of us all, that, in the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition well that prays for peace.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Well, it was a commandment commanding the captain and all the rest not to do their jobs! They went out to steal. There isn't a soldier among us that, when he sits down to pray before a meal, wants to hear someone pray for peace.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

I never heard any soldier dislike it.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

I've never heard a soldier say he didn't like it.

LUCIO

I believe thee; for I think thou never wast wheregrace was said.

LUCIO

I believe you, since I think you've never heard someone say a prayer before.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

No? a dozen times at least.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

No? A dozen times at least.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

What, in metre?

FIRST GENTLEMAN

A dozen times in poetic form?

LUCIO

In any proportion or in any language.

LUCIO

In any form or in any language.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

I think, or in any religion.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

I think, or in any religion.

LUCIO

Ay, why not? Grace is grace, despite of allcontroversy: as, for example, thou thyself art awicked villain, despite of all grace.

LUCIO

Yes, why not? Grace is grace, in spite of all the controversy. For example, you're a twisted crook, in spite of all grace. 

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Well, there went but a pair of shears between us.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Well, you just cut all ties between us.

LUCIO

I grant; as there may between the lists and thevelvet. Thou art the list.

LUCIO

I swear, just as you'd cut between the hem and the velvet. You're the hem.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

And thou the velvet: thou art good velvet; thou'rt a three-piled piece, I warrant thee: I had as lief be a list of an English kersey as be piled, as thou art piled, for a French velvet. Do I speak feelingly now?

FIRST GENTLEMAN

And you're the velvet? You're good velvet; I bet you're a three-layer piece. I'd rather be a hem of English wool than be layered the way you are, into a French velvet. Am I speaking clearly enough now?

LUCIO

I think thou dost; and, indeed, with most painful feeling of thy speech: I will, out of thine own confession, learn to begin thy health; but, whilst I live, forget to drink after thee.

LUCIO

I think you are. And, in fact, it's having a painful effect on the listeners. From what you've said, I'll drink to you but, while I live, I won't drink after you

FIRST GENTLEMAN

I think I have done myself wrong, have I not?

FIRST GENTLEMAN

I feel like I've done myself wrong, haven't I?

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Yes, that thou hast, whether thou art tainted or free.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Yes, you have, whether you're sick or not.

LUCIO

Behold, behold. where Madam Mitigation comes! Ihave purchased as many diseases under her roof as come to—

LUCIO

Look, look, here comes Mrs. Moderation! I've bought so many diseases in her house, to the tune of—

SECOND GENTLEMAN

To what, I pray?

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Of what, indeed?

LUCIO

Judge.

LUCIO

Guess.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

To three thousand dolours a year.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Three thousand dollars a year.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Ay, and more.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Yes, and more.

LUCIO

A French crown more.

LUCIO

A French crown more.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Thou art always figuring diseases in me; but thouart full of error; I am sound.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

You're always accusing me of having diseases, but you're wrong; I'm solidly healthy.

LUCIO

Nay, not as one would say, healthy; but so sound as things that are hollow: thy bones are hollow; impiety has made a feast of thee.

LUCIO

Well, we wouldn't exactly say you're healthy, but you're as solid as things that are hollow. Your bones are hollow! Your sin is eating you alive.

Enter MISTRESS OVERDONE

FIRST GENTLEMAN

How now! which of your hips has the most profound sciatica?

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Really, now?  Which of your hips has the worst ache in it?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well, well; there's one yonder arrested and carriedto prison was worth five thousand of you all.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well, well! Someone over there was arrested and carried to prison who's worth five thousand of you all.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Who's that, I pray thee?

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Who's that, then?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Marry, sir, that's Claudio, Signior Claudio.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well, sir, that's Claudio, Mr. Claudio.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Claudio to prison? 'tis not so.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Claudio's going to prison? It can't be.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Nay, but I know 'tis so: I saw him arrested, saw him carried away; and, which is more, within these three days his head to be chopped off.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Unfortunately, I know it is. I saw him arrested, saw him carried away, and—even worse—three days from now he'll have his head chopped off.

LUCIO

But, after all this fooling, I would not have it so.Art thou sure of this?

LUCIO

All joking aside, that can't be true. Are you sure about this?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

I am too sure of it: and it is for getting MadamJulietta with child.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

I'm too sure of it. And it's for getting Ms. Juliet pregnant.

LUCIO

Believe me, this may be: he promised to meet me twohours since, and he was ever precise inpromise-keeping.

LUCIO

Believe me, it might be true. He promised to meet me two hours ago, and he's always kept his promises. 

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Besides, you know, it draws something near to thespeech we had to such a purpose.

SECOND GENTLEMAN

Besides, you know, it's in line with the speech we heard to that effect. 

FIRST GENTLEMAN

But, most of all, agreeing with the proclamation.

FIRST GENTLEMAN

Yes, above all, it matches up with the proclamation

LUCIO

Away! let's go learn the truth of it.

LUCIO

Come on! Let's go figure out if it's true. 

Exeunt LUCIO and Gentlemen

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Thus, what with the war, what with the sweat, what with the gallows and what with poverty, I am custom-shrunk.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

So because of the war, and the sweat, and the gallows, and poverty, I have no customers left.

Enter POMPEY

How now! what's the news with you?

Hello there! What news do you have?

POMPEY

Yonder man is carried to prison.

POMPEY

That man was carried off to prison.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well; what has he done?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well? What did he do?

POMPEY

A woman.

POMPEY

A woman.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

But what's his offence?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

But what's his offense?

POMPEY

Groping for trouts in a peculiar river.

POMPEY

Groping for fish in a strange river.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What, is there a maid with child by him?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What, has he knocked up a girl?

POMPEY

No, but there's a woman with maid by him. You havenot heard of the proclamation, have you?

POMPEY

Well, she's not a girl anymore, but she is knocked up. You haven't heard the proclamation, have you?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What proclamation, man?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What proclamation, man?

POMPEY

All houses in the suburbs of Vienna must be plucked down.

POMPEY

All the brothels on the outskirts of Vienna have to be shut down.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

And what shall become of those in the city?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

And what about the ones in the city?

POMPEY

They shall stand for seed: they had gone down too,but that a wise burgher put in for them.

POMPEY

They get to stay. They would have gone down, too, but a smart businessman stood up for them.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

But shall all our houses of resort in the suburbs bepulled down?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

So will all the brothels in the outskirts be pulled down?

POMPEY

To the ground, mistress.

POMPEY

To the ground, mistress.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Why, here's a change indeed in the commonwealth!What shall become of me?

MISTRESS OVERDONE

Well, this is certainly a change in our country! What will happen to me?

POMPEY

Come; fear you not: good counsellors lack no clients: though you change your place, you need not change your trade; I'll be your tapster still. Courage! there will be pity taken on you: you that have worn your eyes almost out in the service, you will be considered.

POMPEY

Come on, don't be afraid. Good lawyers don't have to look far for clients; even if you change locations, you don't have to change your business. And I'll still be your bartender. Courage! They'll take pity on you; you've worked yourself to the bone in this business, and you'll be taken care of.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What's to do here, Thomas tapster? let's withdraw.

MISTRESS OVERDONE

What can we do, Mr. Bartender? Let's go in.

POMPEY

Here comes Signior Claudio, led by the provost toprison; and there's Madam Juliet.

POMPEY

Here comes Sir Claudio, with the provost leading him to prison. And there's Ms. Juliet.

Exeunt

Enter Provost, CLAUDIO, JULIET, and Officers

CLAUDIO

Fellow, why dost thou show me thus to the world?Bear me to prison, where I am committed.

CLAUDIO

Man, why are you showing me to the whole world like this? Take me to prison, where I've been committed. 

PROVOST

I do it not in evil disposition,But from Lord Angelo by special charge.

PROVOST

I'm not doing it out of spite; it's Lord Angelo's special orders.

CLAUDIO

Thus can the demigod Authority Make us pay down for our offence by weight The words of heaven; on whom it will, it will; On whom it will not, so; yet still 'tis just.

CLAUDIO

So the mighty government can make us pay for our crimes as if it were God himself. They punish who they'll punish, and don't who they don't, and yet it's still "just."

Re-enter LUCIO and two Gentlemen

LUCIO

Why, how now, Claudio! whence comes this restraint?

LUCIO

Well, how are you, Claudio? Why the handcuffs?

CLAUDIO

From too much liberty, my Lucio, liberty: As surfeit is the father of much fast, So every scope by the immoderate use Turns to restraint. Our natures do pursue, Like rats that ravin down their proper bane, A thirsty evil; and when we drink we die.

CLAUDIO

Too much freedom, Lucio, too much freedom. After overeating we want to fast for a while; in the same way, other kinds of excess lead us to restraint. Our human nature thirsts for evil, like rats devouring their scavenged food. And when we drink, we die.

LUCIO

If could speak so wisely under an arrest, I would send for certain of my creditors: and yet, to say the truth, I had as lief have the foppery of freedom as the morality of imprisonment. What's thy offence, Claudio?

LUCIO

If I thought I could talk like that under arrest, I'd call up some of my creditors! And yet, to tell you the truth, I'd rather have the indulgence of freedom than the morality of imprisonment. What was your crime, Claudio?

CLAUDIO

What but to speak of would offend again.

CLAUDIO

To speak of it would be another crime

LUCIO

What, is't murder?

LUCIO

What was it, murder?

CLAUDIO

No.

CLAUDIO

No.

LUCIO

Lechery?

LUCIO

Sexual immorality?

CLAUDIO

Call it so.

CLAUDIO

You could call it that.

PROVOST

Away, sir! you must go.

PROVOST

Come on, sir! You have to go.

CLAUDIO

One word, good friend. Lucio, a word with you.

CLAUDIO

Just a minute, good friend. Lucio, can I speak with you?

LUCIO

A hundred, if they'll do you any good.Is lechery so look'd after?

LUCIO

As long as you want, if it'll do you any good. Is sex such a serious crime?

CLAUDIO

Thus stands it with me: upon a true contract I got possession of Julietta's bed: You know the lady; she is fast my wife, Save that we do the denunciation lack Of outward order: this we came not to, Only for propagation of a dower Remaining in the coffer of her friends, From whom we thought it meet to hide our love Till time had made them for us. But it chances The stealth of our most mutual entertainment With character too gross is writ on Juliet.

CLAUDIO

This is how it is with me: I slept with Juliet on the condition that we would be married. You know her, she's basically my wife, except that we haven't had a public wedding. We came to this because we were waiting for a dowry to materialize, which is still in her family's bank at the moment. And we thought it might be smart to keep our love a secret until they came around to us. But, as it happens, the evidence of our liaisons has become all too apparent in Juliet.

LUCIO

With child, perhaps?

LUCIO

She's pregnant, that is?

CLAUDIO

Unhappily, even so. And the new deputy now for the duke— Whether it be the fault and glimpse of newness, Or whether that the body public be A horse whereon the governor doth ride, Who, newly in the seat, that it may know He can command, lets it straight feel the spur; Whether the tyranny be in his place, Or in his emmence that fills it up, I stagger in: —but this new governor Awakes me all the enrolled penalties Which have, like unscour'd armour, hung by the wall So long that nineteen zodiacs have gone round And none of them been worn; and, for a name, Now puts the drowsy and neglected act Freshly on me: 'tis surely for a name.

CLAUDIO

Unfortunately, yes. And the Duke's new deputy—whether by mistake because he's new, or because he's intentionally trying to punish the public, like a new rider breaking in a horse and letting it know he's in charge with the kick of a spur—well, whether the role of governor is tyrannical, or just the man that's currently in that role, I'm not sure. But this new governor has dredged up all the old punishments which, like unwashed armor, have hung on the wall for nineteen years without being worn. Now, for the sake of his reputation, he's called these old, forgotten rules into effect. It surely has to be for the sake of his reputation. 

LUCIO

I warrant it is: and thy head stands so tickle on thy shoulders that a milkmaid, if she be in love, may sigh it off. Send after the duke and appeal to him.

LUCIO

I bet it is. And you've got such a pretty face on those shoulders of yours that any old girl, if she were in love, would go to pieces over it. Write to the Duke and appeal to him.

CLAUDIO

I have done so, but he's not to be found. I prithee, Lucio, do me this kind service: This day my sister should the cloister enter And there receive her approbation: Acquaint her with the danger of my state: Implore her, in my voice, that she make friends To the strict deputy; bid herself assay him: I have great hope in that; for in her youth There is a prone and speechless dialect, Such as move men; beside, she hath prosperous art When she will play with reason and discourse, And well she can persuade.

CLAUDIO

I've done that, but he's nowhere to be found. Please, Lucio, do this for me: today my sister is supposed to enter the convent and take her vows; let her know what danger I'm in. Ask her to make friends with the deputy governor; ask her to win him over. I have high hopes for that because she's young, and her honest, plain way of speaking has the power to convince men. Besides, she's usually successful when she argues or debates, and can easily persuade someone. 

LUCIO

I pray she may; as well for the encouragement of the like, which else would stand under grievous imposition, as for the enjoying of thy life, who I would be sorry should be thus foolishly lost at a game of tick-tack. I'll to her.

LUCIO

I hope she can, both to encourage lovers that others could be horribly punished, and to save your life. I'd be sorry to lose you over something as silly as a game of tic-tac-toe. I'll go to her.

CLAUDIO

I thank you, good friend Lucio.

CLAUDIO

Thanks, Lucio; you're a good friend.

LUCIO

Within two hours.

LUCIO

I'll go to her within these two hours.

CLAUDIO

Come, officer, away!

CLAUDIO

Come on, officer, let's go!

Exeunt

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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.