A line-by-line translation

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

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LADY

Of either, madam.

LADY

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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

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LADY

Madam, I'll sing.

LADY

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QUEEN

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

QUEEN

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LADY

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

LADY

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QUEEN

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

QUEEN

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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

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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

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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

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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

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SERVANT

What, are they dead?

SERVANT

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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

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SERVANT

What, think you then the king shall be deposed?

SERVANT

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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

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QUEEN

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

QUEEN

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.