A line-by-line translation

Richard III

Richard III Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester, solus

RICHARD

Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this son of York, And all the clouds that loured upon our house In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths, Our bruisèd arms hung up for monuments, Our stern alarums changed to merry meetings, Our dreadful marches to delightful measures. Grim-visaged war hath smoothed his wrinkled front; And now, instead of mounting barbèd steeds To fright the souls of fearful adversaries, He capers nimbly in a lady’s chamber To the lascivious pleasing of a lute. But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks, Nor made to court an amorous looking glass; I, that am rudely stamped and want love’s majesty To strut before a wanton ambling nymph; I, that am curtailed of this fair proportion, Cheated of feature by dissembling nature, Deformed, unfinished, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up, And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them— Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, Have no delight to pass away the time, Unless to see my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity. And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determinèd to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, To set my brother Clarence and the king In deadly hate, the one against the other; And if King Edward be as true and just As I am subtle, false, and treacherous, This day should Clarence closely be mewed up About a prophecy which says that “G” Of Edward’s heirs the murderer shall be. Dive, thoughts, down to my soul. Here Clarence comes.

RICHARD

Now the winter of our troubles has been transformed into glorious summer by the ascension of my brother, King Edward IV, son of the house of York. All the clouds that had descended over our family have now been banished and returned to the sea. Now we wear wreaths of victory on our foreheads, and we've hung up our armor as decoration. We've exchanged the sound of our battle trumpets for the sound of joyful greetings, and our death marches have become stately dances. The grim, warlike expressions on our faces have smoothed. And instead of charging on armored horses to frighten our opponents, we now dance in ladies' chambers to seductive songs on the lute. But as for me, I am not made for such games of love, or to admire myself in a mirror. I was badly made, and I lack the good looks to strut in front of passing girls. Nature has cheated me out of handsome features and proper proportions. I was born deformed, unfinished, and born prematurely. I was barely half-created when I came into the world, and left so lame and misshapen that dogs bark at me as I limp past them. In such delicate times of peace, I have nothing to do. No joys help me pass the time, unless I want to see my own shadow in the sun and make speeches about my deformity. Therefore, since I cannot amuse myself by being a lover during these peaceful days, I am determined to become a villain. I have hatched plots and put dangerous plans into action, using prophecies made while drunk; slander; and stories about dreams in order to set my brother George, Duke of Clarence, against my other brother, the king, so that they hate each other. If King Edward is as true as I am clever, false, and treacherous, then this very day Clarence will be imprisoned because of a prophecy that "G" will murder Edward's children. But, you thoughts, hide yourselves deep down in my soul, for here comes Clarence.

Enter CLARENCE, guarded, and BRAKENBURY

Brother, good day. What means this armèd guardThat waits upon your Grace?

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CLARENCE

His majesty,Tend'ring my person’s safety, hath appointed This conduct to convey me to the Tower.

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

Upon what cause?

RICHARD

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CLARENCE

Because my name is George.

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

Alack, my lord, that fault is none of yours. He should, for that, commit your godfathers. O, belike his majesty hath some intent That you shall be new christened in the Tower. But what’s the matter, Clarence? May I know?

RICHARD

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CLARENCE

Yea, Richard, when I know, for I protest As yet I do not. But, as I can learn, He hearkens after prophecies and dreams, And from the crossrow plucks the letter "G", And says a wizard told him that by “G” His issue disinherited should be. And for my name of George begins with "G", It follows in his thought that I am he. These, as I learn, and such like toys as these Have moved his Highness to commit me now.

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

Why, this it is when men are ruled by women. 'Tis not the king that sends you to the Tower. My Lady Grey his wife, Clarence, ’tis she That tempers him to this extremity. Was it not she and that good man of worship, Anthony Woodeville, her brother there, That made him send Lord Hastings to the Tower, From whence this present day he is delivered? We are not safe, Clarence. We are not safe.

RICHARD

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CLARENCE

By heaven, I think there is no man is secure But the queen’s kindred and night-walking heralds That trudge betwixt the king and Mistress Shore. Heard ye not what an humble suppliant Lord Hastings was to her for his delivery?

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

Humbly complaining to her deity Got my Lord Chamberlain his liberty. I’ll tell you what: I think it is our way, If we will keep in favor with the king, To be her men and wear her livery. The jealous o'erworn widow and herself, Since that our brother dubbed them gentlewomen, Are mighty gossips in this monarchy.

RICHARD

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BRAKENBURY

I beseech your Graces both to pardon me. His majesty hath straitly given in charge That no man shall have private conference, Of what degree soever, with his brother.

BRAKENBURY

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RICHARD

Even so. An please your Worship, Brakenbury, You may partake of anything we say. We speak no treason, man. We say the king Is wise and virtuous, and his noble queen Well struck in years, fair, and not jealous. We say that Shore’s wife hath a pretty foot, A cherry lip, a bonny eye, a passing pleasing tongue, And that the queen’s kindred are made gentlefolks. How say you, sir? Can you deny all this?

RICHARD

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BRAKENBURY

With this, my lord, myself have naught to do.

BRAKENBURY

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RICHARD

Naught to do with Mistress Shore? I tell thee, fellow,He that doth naught with her, excepting one, Were best he do it secretly, alone.

RICHARD

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BRAKENBURY

What one, my lord?

BRAKENBURY

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RICHARD

Her husband, knave. Wouldst thou betray me?

RICHARD

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BRAKENBURY

I do beseech your Grace to pardon me, and withal Forbear your conference with the noble duke.

BRAKENBURY

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CLARENCE

We know thy charge, Brakenbury, and will obey.

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

We are the queen’s abjects and must obey.— Brother, farewell. I will unto the king, And whatsoe'er you will employ me in, Were it to call King Edward’s widow “sister,” I will perform it to enfranchise you. Meantime, this deep disgrace in brotherhood Touches me deeper than you can imagine.

RICHARD

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CLARENCE

I know it pleaseth neither of us well.

CLARENCE

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RICHARD

Well, your imprisonment shall not be long.I will deliver you or else lie for you.Meantime, have patience.

RICHARD

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CLARENCE

I must perforce. Farewell.

CLARENCE

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Exeunt CLARENCE, BRAKENBURY, and guard

RICHARD

Go tread the path that thou shalt ne'er return. Simple, plain Clarence, I do love thee so That I will shortly send thy soul to heaven, If heaven will take the present at our hands. But who comes here? The new-delivered Hastings?

RICHARD

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Enter HASTINGS

HASTINGS

Good time of day unto my gracious lord.

HASTINGS

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RICHARD

As much unto my good Lord Chamberlain. Well are you welcome to the open air.How hath your lordship brooked imprisonment?

RICHARD

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HASTINGS

With patience, noble lord, as prisoners must.But I shall live, my lord, to give them thanksThat were the cause of my imprisonment.

HASTINGS

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RICHARD

No doubt, no doubt; and so shall Clarence too,For they that were your enemies are hisAnd have prevailed as much on him as you.

RICHARD

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HASTINGS

More pity that the eagle should be mewedWhile kites and buzzards prey at liberty.

HASTINGS

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RICHARD

What news abroad?

RICHARD

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HASTINGS

No news so bad abroad as this at home:The king is sickly, weak and melancholy,And his physicians fear him mightily.

HASTINGS

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RICHARD

Now, by Saint Paul, that news is bad indeed. O, he hath kept an evil diet long, And overmuch consumed his royal person. 'Tis very grievous to be thought upon. Where is he, in his bed?

RICHARD

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HASTINGS

He is.

HASTINGS

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RICHARD

Go you before, and I will follow you.

RICHARD

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Exit HASTINGS

He cannot live, I hope, and must not die Till George be packed with post-horse up to heaven. I’ll in to urge his hatred more to Clarence With lies well steeled with weighty arguments, And, if I fail not in my deep intent, Clarence hath not another day to live; Which done, God take King Edward to His mercy, And leave the world for me to bustle in. For then I’ll marry Warwick’s youngest daughter. What though I killed her husband and her father? The readiest way to make the wench amends Is to become her husband and her father; The which will I, not all so much for love As for another secret close intent By marrying her which I must reach unto. But yet I run before my horse to market. Clarence still breathes; Edward still lives and reigns. When they are gone, then must I count my gains.

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Exit

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Matt cosby
About the Translator: Matt Cosby
Matt Cosby graduated from Amherst College in 2011, and currently works as a writer and editor for LitCharts. He is from Florida but now lives in Portland, Oregon, where he also makes art, plays the piano, and goes to dog parks.