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Richard II

Richard II Translation Act 3, Scene 4

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Enter the QUEEN and two Ladies

QUEEN

What sport shall we devise here in this garden,To drive away the heavy thought of care?

QUEEN

What game should we play in this garden, to distract ourselves from our sad thoughts?

LADY

Madam, we'll play at bowls.

LADY

Madam, bowling! 

QUEEN

'Twill make me think the world is full of rubs,And that my fortune rubs against the bias.

QUEEN

That will make me think the world is full of rubs, and that the ball is weighted against me. 

LADY

Madam, we'll dance.

LADY

Madam, we'll dance.

QUEEN

My legs can keep no measure in delight, When my poor heart no measure keeps in grief: Therefore, no dancing, girl; some other sport.

QUEEN

My legs can't keep time in delight, when my poor heart can't keep time in grief. Therefore, no dancing, girl; something else to pass the time. 

LADY

Madam, we'll tell tales.

LADY

Madam, we'll tell stories.

QUEEN

Of sorrow or of joy?

QUEEN

Happy or sad?

LADY

Of either, madam.

LADY

Either, madam.

QUEEN

Of neither, girl: For of joy, being altogether wanting, It doth remember me the more of sorrow; Or if of grief, being altogether had, It adds more sorrow to my want of joy: For what I have I need not to repeat; And what I want it boots not to complain.

QUEEN

Neither, girl: for happy stories remind me of my sorrow, and sad stories add more sorrow to my already sad life. I already know I'm sad, and there's no point in complaining about my lack of happiness. 

LADY

Madam, I'll sing.

LADY

Madam, I'll sing.

QUEEN

'Tis well that thou hast causeBut thou shouldst please me better, wouldst thou weep.

QUEEN

I'm pleased that you feel like singing, but it would please me better if you cried. 

LADY

I could weep, madam, would it do you good.

LADY

I would cry, madam, if it would do you good. 

QUEEN

And I could sing, would weeping do me good,And never borrow any tear of thee.

QUEEN

And I could sing, if crying did me any good, and you wouldn't need to cry at all. 

Enter a Gardener, and two Servants

QUEEN

But stay, here come the gardeners: Let's step into the shadow of these trees. My wretchedness unto a row of pins, They'll talk of state; for every one doth so Against a change ; woe is forerun with woe.

QUEEN

But wait, here come the gardeners: let's hide in the shadow of these trees. Oh, God, I bet they'll talk about politics, for everyone does when they expect a change in government; sorrow is a sign that there's more sorrow to come. 

QUEEN and Ladies retire

GARDENER

Go, bind thou up yon dangling apricocks, Which, like unruly children, make their sire Stoop with oppression of their prodigal weight: Give some supportance to the bending twigs. Go thou, and like an executioner, Cut off the heads of too fast growing sprays, That look too lofty in our commonwealth: All must be even in our government. You thus employ'd, I will go root away The noisome weeds, which without profit suck The soil's fertility from wholesome flowers.

GARDENER

Go, tie up those dangling apricots, which overburden their parent tree with their weight, like unruly children—give some support to the bending twigs. Go and, like an executioner, cut off the heads of plants that grow too fast and too high: in our commonwealth, this garden, we must govern fairly and make sure no plant is taller than the others. While you're busy with that, I'll pull out the useless weeds that suck the soil's nutrients from our healthy flowers.  

SERVANT

Why should we in the compass of a pale Keep law and form and due proportion, Showing, as in a model, our firm estate, When our sea-walled garden, the whole land, Is full of weeds, her fairest flowers choked up, Her fruit-trees all upturned, her hedges ruin'd, Her knots disorder'd and her wholesome herbs Swarming with caterpillars?

SERVANT

But why we should we govern our garden this way—making sure everything is in proportion—within these walls, while the world outside is full of weeds, her fairest flowers unable to grow, her fruit-trees all cut down, her hedges ruined, her mazes disorganized, and her healthy herbs swarming with caterpillars?

GARDENER

Hold thy peace: He that hath suffer'd this disorder'd spring Hath now himself met with the fall of leaf: The weeds which his broad-spreading leaves did shelter, That seem'd in eating him to hold him up, Are pluck'd up root and all by Bolingbroke, I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, Green.

GARDENER

Be quiet: the gardener that allowed such a mess is getting what he deserves; fall is coming after spring. The weeds sheltered by the tree's leaves (parasites that seemed to hold it up by eating it) are all plucked up, root and all, by Bolingbroke—I mean the Earl of Wiltshire, Bushy, and Green. 

SERVANT

What, are they dead?

SERVANT

What, are they dead?

GARDENER

They are; and Bolingbroke Hath seized the wasteful king. O, what pity is it That he had not so trimm'd and dress'd his land As we this garden! We at time of year Do wound the bark, the skin of our fruit-trees, Lest, being over-proud in sap and blood, With too much riches it confound itself: Had he done so to great and growing men, They might have lived to bear and he to taste Their fruits of duty: superfluous branches We lop away, that bearing boughs may live: Had he done so, himself had borne the crown, Which waste of idle hours hath quite thrown down.

GARDENER

They are; and Bolingbroke has imprisoned the wasteful king. Oh, it's a pity that he didn't manage his land as we take care of this garden! At this time of year, we harvest the sap from our fruit-trees, so they don't rot with over-sweetness; if he had done the same with his nobleman, they might have lived to produce the fruits of duty.  We cut away unnecessary branches, so that the more fruitful branches can live: if he had done so, he might still wear the crown which he has cast away by being so lazy and careless. 

SERVANT

What, think you then the king shall be deposed?

SERVANT

What, so you think the king will be deposed, then?

GARDENER

Depress'd he is already, and deposed 'Tis doubt he will be: letters came last night To a dear friend of the good Duke of York's, That tell black tidings.

GARDENER

Well, he's been cast down already, so it seems likely that he'll be deposed: letters came last night to a dear friend of the good Duke of York's, telling bad news. 

QUEEN

O, I am press'd to death through want of speaking!

QUEEN

Oh, I'll die if I don't reply!

Coming forward

QUEEN

Thou, old Adam's likeness, set to dress this garden, How dares thy harsh rude tongue sound this unpleasing news? What Eve, what serpent, hath suggested thee To make a second fall of cursed man? Why dost thou say King Richard is deposed? Darest thou, thou little better thing than earth, Divine his downfall? Say, where, when, and how, Camest thou by this ill tidings? speak, thou wretch.

QUEEN

You, old man—who, like Adam, are commanded to tend this garden—how dare you talk about this sad news so rudely? What Eve, what serpent, has persuaded you to make man fall a second time? Why do you say King Richard is deposed? Do you dare—since you're little better than dust—to predict his downfall? Say, where, when, and how you heard this news? Speak, you fool. 

GARDENER

Pardon me, madam: little joy have I To breathe this news; yet what I say is true. King Richard, he is in the mighty hold Of Bolingbroke: their fortunes both are weigh'd: In your lord's scale is nothing but himself, And some few vanities that make him light; But in the balance of great Bolingbroke, Besides himself, are all the English peers, And with that odds he weighs King Richard down. Post you to London, and you will find it so; I speak no more than every one doth know.

GARDENER

Forgive me, madam: I am sad to say it, but what I say is true. King Richard is imprisoned by the powerful Bolingbroke. Weighed against each other, Richard has only himself (and his vanities make him light); on his side of the scale, Bolingbroke has, in addition to himself, all the English noblemen, and with those odds the scale tips in his favor. If you send a letter to London to ask for news, you'll hear the same; I'm only saying what everyone already knows. 

QUEEN

Nimble mischance, that art so light of foot, Doth not thy embassage belong to me, And am I last that knows it? O, thou think'st To serve me last, that I may longest keep Thy sorrow in my breast. Come, ladies, go, To meet at London London's king in woe. What, was I born to this, that my sad look Should grace the triumph of great Bolingbroke? Gardener, for telling me these news of woe, Pray God the plants thou graft'st may never grow.

QUEEN

Bad luck, do you move so quickly that I'm the last to know it? Oh, I see, you think to come to me last, so that I'll be sorry for longer. Come ladies, go, let's meet the king at London. What, was I born for this, that I should give Bolingbroke satisfaction by looking sad at his triumph? Gardener, for telling me this sad news, I pray to God your plants may never grow. 

Exeunt QUEEN and Ladies

GARDENER

Poor queen! so that thy state might be no worse, I would my skill were subject to thy curse. Here did she fall a tear; here in this place I'll set a bank of rue, sour herb of grace: Rue, even for ruth, here shortly shall be seen, In the remembrance of a weeping queen.

GARDENER

Poor queen! I would take that curse, if only it would help you. [Looking at the ground] Here did she let a tear fall to the ground; so in this place I'll plant a bed of rue, a sour but noble herb. Soon we'll see rue here—which stands for ruth—to remember a queen's tears. 

Exeunt

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Eve houghton
About the Translator: Eve Houghton

Eve Houghton graduated from Yale College in 2017 and is currently pursuing the MPhil in Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, she will return to Yale to begin her PhD in English. Her research interests include early modern commonplace books and note-taking practices, paratexts, reception studies, and the history of reading.