A line-by-line translation

Richard II

Richard II Translation Act 5, Scene 5

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Enter KING RICHARD

KING RICHARD II

I have been studying how I may compare This prison where I live unto the world: And for because the world is populous And here is not a creature but myself, I cannot do it; yet I'll hammer it out. My brain I'll prove the female to my soul, My soul the father; and these two beget A generation of still-breeding thoughts, And these same thoughts people this little world, In humours like the people of this world, For no thought is contented. The better sort, As thoughts of things divine, are intermix'd With scruples and do set the word itself Against the word: As thus, 'Come, little ones,' and then again, 'It is as hard to come as for a camel To thread the postern of a small needle's eye.' Thoughts tending to ambition, they do plot Unlikely wonders; how these vain weak nails May tear a passage through the flinty ribs Of this hard world, my ragged prison walls, And, for they cannot, die in their own pride. Thoughts tending to content flatter themselves That they are not the first of fortune's slaves, Nor shall not be the last; like silly beggars Who sitting in the stocks refuge their shame, That many have and others must sit there; And in this thought they find a kind of ease, Bearing their own misfortunes on the back Of such as have before endured the like. Thus play I in one person many people, And none contented: sometimes am I king; Then treasons make me wish myself a beggar, And so I am: then crushing penury Persuades me I was better when a king; Then am I king'd again: and by and by Think that I am unking'd by Bolingbroke, And straight am nothing: but whate'er I be, Nor I nor any man that but man is With nothing shall be pleased, till he be eased With being nothing. Music do I hear?

KING RICHARD II

I've been thinking how I might compare my prison to the world: but because the world is full of people and here there's no one but me, I can't do it. But I'll give it a try. My brain will be the mother and my soul will be the father, and together they'll produce a generation of children, my thoughts. Those thoughts will populate this little world—they'll have moods just like people in the real world, none of them satisfied. The better sort of thoughts, thoughts of heaven, have too many doubts and make me read the Bible against itself: for example, "Come, little one" versus "It is as hard to come as for a camel to thread the eye of a small needle." Ambitious thoughts dwell on ways to escape, like tearing a passage through my rough prison walls with my weak fingernails—and since, there's no hope of escape, die before they have the chance to go any further. Happier thoughts flatter themselves that they aren't the first people to be unlucky, and won't be the last: like beggars sitting in the stocks who tell themselves that many have and other will be in the same place, and in that thought find a kind of comfort, imagining others who have endured the same misfortunes. So I, in one person, play many people—none happy. Sometimes I'm a king; then treason makes me wish to be a beggar (and so I am); then crushing suffering persuades me that it was better when I was a king; then I'm king again, but soon remember that Bolingbroke has taken my throne, and I am nothing at all. But whatever I am, neither I nor anyone will pleased with anything, unless he's happy with being nothing. Is this music that I'm hearing?

Music

KING RICHARD II

Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is, When time is broke and no proportion kept! So is it in the music of men's lives. And here have I the daintiness of ear To cheque time broke in a disorder'd string; But for the concord of my state and time Had not an ear to hear my true time broke. I wasted time, and now doth time waste me; For now hath time made me his numbering clock: My thoughts are minutes; and with sighs they jar Their watches on unto mine eyes, the outward watch, Whereto my finger, like a dial's point, Is pointing still, in cleansing them from tears. Now sir, the sound that tells what hour it is Are clamorous groans, which strike upon my heart, Which is the bell: so sighs and tears and groans Show minutes, times, and hours: but my time Runs posting on in Bolingbroke's proud joy, While I stand fooling here, his Jack o' the clock. This music mads me; let it sound no more; For though it have helped madmen to their wits, In me it seems it will make wise men mad. Yet blessing on his heart that gives it me! For 'tis a sign of love; and love to Richard Is a strange brooch in this all-hating world.

KING RICHARD II

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Enter a Groom of the Stable

GROOM

Hail, royal prince!

GROOM

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KING RICHARD II

Thanks, noble peer; The cheapest of us is ten groats too dear. What art thou? and how comest thou hither, Where no man never comes but that sad dog That brings me food to make misfortune live?

KING RICHARD II

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GROOM

I was a poor groom of thy stable, king, When thou wert king; who, travelling towards York, With much ado at length have gotten leave To look upon my sometimes royal master's face. O, how it yearn'd my heart when I beheld In London streets, that coronation-day, When Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary, That horse that thou so often hast bestrid, That horse that I so carefully have dress'd!

GROOM

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KING RICHARD II

Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,How went he under him?

KING RICHARD II

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GROOM

So proudly as if he disdain'd the ground.

GROOM

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KING RICHARD II

So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back! That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand; This hand hath made him proud with clapping him. Would he not stumble? would he not fall down, Since pride must have a fall, and break the neck Of that proud man that did usurp his back? Forgiveness, horse! why do I rail on thee, Since thou, created to be awed by man, Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse; And yet I bear a burthen like an ass, Spurr'd, gall'd and tired by jouncing Bolingbroke.

KING RICHARD II

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Enter Keeper, with a dish

KEEPER

Fellow, give place; here is no longer stay.

KEEPER

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KING RICHARD II

If thou love me, 'tis time thou wert away.

KING RICHARD II

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GROOM

What my tongue dares not, that my heart shall say.

GROOM

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Exit

KEEPER

My lord, will't please you to fall to?

KEEPER

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KING RICHARD II

Taste of it first, as thou art wont to do.

KING RICHARD II

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KEEPER

My lord, I dare not: Sir Pierce of Exton, wholately came from the king, commands the contrary.

KEEPER

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KING RICHARD II

The devil take Henry of Lancaster and thee!Patience is stale, and I am weary of it.

KING RICHARD II

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Beats the keeper

KEEPER

Help, help, help!

KEEPER

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Enter EXTON and Servants, armed

KING RICHARD II

How now! what means death in this rude assault?Villain, thy own hand yields thy death's instrument.

KING RICHARD II

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Snatching an axe from a Servant and killing him

KING RICHARD II

Go thou, and fill another room in hell.

KING RICHARD II

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He kills another. Then Exton strikes him down

KING RICHARD II

That hand shall burn in never-quenching fire That staggers thus my person. Exton, thy fierce hand Hath with the king's blood stain'd the king's own land. Mount, mount, my soul! thy seat is up on high; Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, here to die.

KING RICHARD II

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Dies

EXTON

As full of valour as of royal blood: Both have I spill'd; O would the deed were good! For now the devil, that told me I did well, Says that this deed is chronicled in hell. This dead king to the living king I'll bear Take hence the rest, and give them burial here.

EXTON

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Exeunt

Richard ii
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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.