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Richard III

Richard III Translation Act 1, Scene 2

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Enter the corse of Henry the Sixth, on a bier, with halberds to guard it, Lady ANNE being the mourner, accompanied by gentlemen

ANNE

Set down, set down your honorable load, If honor may be shrouded in a hearse, Whilst I awhile obsequiously lamentTh' untimely fall of virtuous Lancaster.

ANNE

Set down, set down your honorable load, menif honor can be shrouded in a coffinwhile I solemnly mourn the early death of virtuous Henry.

They set down the bier

Poor key-cold figure of a holy king, Pale ashes of the house of Lancaster, Thou bloodless remnant of that royal blood, Be it lawful that I invocate thy ghost To hear the lamentations of poor Anne, Wife to thy Edward, to thy slaughtered son, Stabbed by the selfsame hand that made these wounds. Lo, in these windows that let forth thy life I pour the helpless balm of my poor eyes. O, cursèd be the hand that made these holes; Cursèd the heart that had the heart to do it; Cursèd the blood that let this blood from hence. More direful hap betide that hated wretch That makes us wretched by the death of thee Than I can wish to wolves, to spiders, toads, Or any creeping venomed thing that lives. If ever he have child, abortive be it, Prodigious, and untimely brought to light, Whose ugly and unnatural aspect May fright the hopeful mother at the view, And that be heir to his unhappiness. If ever he have wife, let her be made More miserable by the death of him Than I am made by my poor lord and thee.— Come now towards Chertsey with your holy load, Taken from Paul’s to be interrèd there.

Oh, you poor cold corpse of a holy king, you last remains of the house of Lancaster, you bloodless remnant of that royal blood! If it's lawful to speak to your ghost, then listen to the sorrows of poor Anne. My husband was Edward—your slaughtered son—who was murdered by the same man who stabbed you. Oh, let me pour my helpless tears into your wounds, those open windows that let your spirit escape. I curse the hand that made these holes in you. I curse the heart of the person who had the heart to do it. And I curse the blood of the man that shed your blood. I hope evil fortunes fall upon that hateful man, the one who killed you and now makes me suffer. May his fate be worse than anything I would wish on wolves, spiders, toads, or any creeping venomous thing that lives. If he ever has a child, may it be born premature and unnatural, and may its appearance be so ugly and monstrous that even its own hopeful mother will fear it. That way, the child will inherit your murderer's own unhappiness. And if he ever has a wife, may she be more miserable at his death than I am now, mourning my husband and you, my father-in-law.

[To gentlemen] Come now, guards, continue on towards Chertsey Abbey, where this holy burden—which you picked up at Saint Paul's cathedral—will be laid to rest.

They take up the bier

And still, as you are weary of this weight,Rest you, whiles I lament King Henry’s corse.

And whenever your burden grows too heavy, rest a while, and I will lament over King Henry's corpse.

Enter RICHARD, Duke of Gloucester

RICHARD

Stay, you that bear the corse, and set it down.

RICHARD

Stop, you who bear that corpse, and set down your load.

ANNE

What black magician conjures up this fiend To stop devoted charitable deeds?

ANNE

What evil magician has conjured up this devil to interrupt our sacred burial procession?

RICHARD

Villains, set down the corse or, by Saint Paul,I’ll make a corse of him that disobeys.

RICHARD

You base men, set down the corpse or, I swear by Saint Paul, I'll make corpses out of you.

GENTLEMAN

My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.

GENTLEMAN

My lord, stand back and let the coffin pass.

RICHARD

Unmannered dog, stand thou when I command!— Advance thy halberd higher than my breast, Or by Saint Paul I’ll strike thee to my foot And spurn upon thee, beggar, for thy boldness.

RICHARD

Rude dog, halt when I command you to! And raise your weapon so it isn't pointing at my chest, or, by Saint Paul, I'll strike you down and trample on you for your boldness, you beggar.

They set down the bier

ANNE

[to gentlemen and halberds] What, do you tremble? Are you all afraid? Alas, I blame you not, for you are mortal, And mortal eyes cannot endure the devil.— Avaunt, thou dreadful minister of hell. Thou hadst but power over his mortal body; His soul thou canst not have. Therefore begone.

ANNE

[To the gentlemen and guards] What, do you tremble at the sight of him? Are you all afraid? Alas, I don't blame you, for you're only mortal, and mortal eyes can't stand to look at the devil. 

[To RICHARD] Go away, you dreadful servant of hell. You only had power over Henry's body; you can't have his soul. So go away.

RICHARD

Sweet saint, for charity, be not so curst.

RICHARD

Sweet saint, for goodness's sake, don't be so harsh.

ANNE

Foul devil, for God’s sake, hence, and trouble us not, For thou hast made the happy earth thy hell, Filled it with cursing cries and deep exclaims. If thou delight to view thy heinous deeds, Behold this pattern of thy butcheries.

ANNE

Foul devil, for God's sake, go away and leave us alone. You've made the pleasant earth into your hell, filling it with cursing cries and deep laments. If you enjoy looking at your horrible deeds, then behold this example of your butchery.

She points to the corse

O, gentlemen, see, see dead Henry’s wounds Open their congealed mouths and bleed afresh!— Blush, blush, thou lump of foul deformity, For ’tis thy presence that exhales this blood From cold and empty veins where no blood dwells. Thy deed, inhuman and unnatural, Provokes this deluge most unnatural.— O God, which this blood mad’st, revenge his death! O earth, which this blood drink’st revenge his death! Either heaven with lightning strike the murderer dead, Or earth gape open wide and eat him quick, As thou dost swallow up this good king’s blood, Which his hell-governed arm hath butcherèd!

Oh, gentlemen, see, see! Dead Henry's wounds have opened and are bleeding again! 

[To RICHARD] Shame on you, shame on you, you lump of foul deformity! It's your presence that draws out this blood from his cold and empty veins, where no blood remains. Your inhuman and unnatural actions have provoked this unnatural flood. 

Oh God, who made this blood, revenge Henry's death! Oh earth, which soaks up this blood, revenge his death! Either heaven strike the murderer dead with lightning, or let the earth open wide and eat him quick, just as it swallows this good king's blood—the king this devil has butchered!

RICHARD

Lady, you know no rules of charity,Which renders good for bad, blessings for curses.

RICHARD

Lady, you don't know the rules of charity, which transforms evil into good, and curses into blessings.

ANNE

Villain, thou know’st not law of God nor man.No beast so fierce but knows some touch of pity.

ANNE

Villain, you don't know the laws of God or man. Even the fiercest beast has a touch of pity.

RICHARD

But I know none, and therefore am no beast.

RICHARD

But I have no pity, so I must not be a beast.

ANNE

O, wonderful, when devils tell the truth!

ANNE

Oh, how amazing to hear a devil tell the truth!

RICHARD

More wonderful, when angels are so angry. Vouchsafe, divine perfection of a woman, Of these supposèd crimes to give me leave By circumstance but to acquit myself.

RICHARD

It's more amazing that an angel should be so angry. You divinely perfect woman, please allow me to clear myself of these crimes of which you've accused me.

ANNE

Vouchsafe, defused infection of a man,Of these known evils but to give me leave By circumstance to curse thy cursèd self.

ANNE

You shapeless plague of a man, please allow me to curse your cursed self for the crimes I know you've committed.

RICHARD

Fairer than tongue can name thee, let me haveSome patient leisure to excuse myself.

RICHARD

You who are more beautiful than words can say, give me some time and let me explain myself.

ANNE

Fouler than heart can think thee, thou canst makeNo excuse current but to hang thyself.

ANNE

You who are more awful than any heart could believe, the only explanation you can give is to go hang yourself.

RICHARD

By such despair I should accuse myself.

RICHARD

Such an act of despair would prove my guilt.

ANNE

And by despairing shalt thou stand excusedFor doing worthy vengeance on thyselfThat didst unworthy slaughter upon others.

ANNE

And such an act of despair would be a worthy act of revenge against yourself for slaughtering innocents.

RICHARD

Say that I slew them not.

RICHARD

Let's say that I didn't kill them.

ANNE

Then say they were not slain. But dead they are, and devilish slave, by thee.

ANNE

Then we might as well say that they aren't dead. But, you devilish scoundrel, they are dead, and you killed them.

RICHARD

I did not kill your husband.

RICHARD

I did not kill your husband.

ANNE

Why then, he is alive.

ANNE

Well then, he must be alive.

RICHARD

Nay, he is dead, and slain by Edward’s hands.

RICHARD

No, he is dead, and Edward killed him.

ANNE

In thy foul throat thou liest. Queen Margaret saw Thy murd'rous falchion smoking in his blood, The which thou once didst bend against her breast, But that thy brothers beat aside the point.

ANNE

You're lying through your teeth. Queen Margaret saw your murderous sword steaming with his blood—the same sword with which you once tried to kill her. She was only saved because your brothers restrained you.

RICHARD

I was provokèd by her sland'rous tongue,That laid their guilt upon my guiltless shoulders.

RICHARD

I was provoked by her lying tongue, which tried to lay guilt on my guiltless shoulders.

ANNE

Thou wast provokèd by thy bloody mind, That never dream’st on aught but butcheries.Didst thou not kill this king?

ANNE

No, you were provoked by your own bloody mind, which never thinks about anything but butchery. Did you kill this king?

RICHARD

I grant you.

RICHARD

Yes, I'll grant you that.

ANNE

Dost grant me, hedgehog? Then, God grant me tooThou mayst be damnèd for that wicked deed.O, he was gentle, mild, and virtuous.

ANNE

You'll grant me, you hedgehog? Then let God grant me my wish that you'll be damned for that wicked deed. Oh, Henry was gentle, mild, and virtuous.

RICHARD

The better for the King of heaven that hath him.

RICHARD

All the better for God, who has him now.

ANNE

He is in heaven, where thou shalt never come.

ANNE

Yes, he's in heaven, where you will never go.

RICHARD

Let him thank me, that holp to send him thither,For he was fitter for that place than earth.

RICHARD

Then let him thank me, who helped him get there. He's better suited for heaven than for earth.

ANNE

And thou unfit for any place but hell.

ANNE

And you're not suited for any place but hell.

RICHARD

Yes, one place else, if you will hear me name it.

RICHARD

Yes, though I'm also suited for one other place, if you'll let me name it.

ANNE

Some dungeon.

ANNE

Some dungeon.

RICHARD

Your bedchamber.

RICHARD

Your bedroom.

ANNE

Ill rest betide the chamber where thou liest!

ANNE

There will be no rest in any bedroom where you lie!

RICHARD

So will it, madam till I lie with you.

RICHARD

That's true, madam, until I sleep with you.

ANNE

I hope so.

ANNE

I hope so—because then you'll never sleep.

RICHARD

I know so. But, gentle Lady Anne, To leave this keen encounter of our wits And fall something into a slower method— Is not the causer of the timeless deaths Of these Plantagenets, Henry and Edward, As blameful as the executioner?

RICHARD

I know so. But, dear Lady Anne, let's leave this battle of wits and move into a calmer, slower conversation. Isn't the person who caused the untimely deaths of these Plantagenets—Henry and Edward—as much to blame as the person who physically committed the murders?

ANNE

Thou wast the cause and most accursed effect.

ANNE

You are both—the cause and the dreadful effect.

RICHARD

Your beauty was the cause of that effect— Your beauty, that did haunt me in my sleep To undertake the death of all the world, So I might live one hour in your sweet bosom.

RICHARD

No, your beauty was the cause of my deeds—your beauty that haunted my sleep, and could have convinced me to kill the whole world to have just an hour of intimacy with you.

ANNE

If I thought that, I tell thee, homicide,These nails should rend that beauty from my cheeks.

ANNE

If I believed you, murderer, then I tell you that I would scratch the beauty from my cheeks with my fingernails.

RICHARD

These eyes could never endure that beauty’s wrack. You should not blemish it, if I stood by. As all the world is cheerèd by the sun, So I by that. It is my day, my life.

RICHARD

I couldn't stand to see you ruin your beauty. I would stop you if you tried to blemish it. Your beauty encourages me like the sun encourages the whole world. Your beauty is my day, my life.

ANNE

Black night o'ershade thy day, and death thy life.

ANNE

Then may black night overshadow your day, and death take your life.

RICHARD

Curse not thyself, fair creature; thou art both.

RICHARD

Beautiful lady, don't curse yourself, since you are both my day and my life.

ANNE

I would I were, to be revenged on thee.

ANNE

I wish I were, so I could have some power to take revenge and kill you.

RICHARD

It is a quarrel most unnatural To be revenged on him that loveth thee.

RICHARD

It's unnatural to want to take revenge on the man who loves you.

ANNE

It is a quarrel just and reasonableTo be revenged on him that killed my husband.

ANNE

It's just and reasonable to want to take revenge on the man who killed my husband.

RICHARD

He that bereft thee, lady, of thy husbandDid it to help thee to a better husband.

RICHARD

Lady, the man who robbed you of your husband did it to help you find a better husband.

ANNE

His better doth not breathe upon the earth.

ANNE

There is no better man on earth than my husband.

RICHARD

He lives that loves thee better than he could.

RICHARD

But there is one man who loves you better than your husband could.

ANNE

Name him.

ANNE

Name him.

RICHARD

Plantagenet.

RICHARD

Plantagenet.

ANNE

Why, that was he.

ANNE

Yes, that's my husband's name.

RICHARD

The selfsame name, but one of better nature.

RICHARD

I mean someone with the same name, but a better personality.

ANNE

Where is he?

ANNE

Where is he?

RICHARD

Here.

RICHARD

Right here.

She spitteth at him

Why dost thou spit at me?

Why do you spit at me?

ANNE

Would it were mortal poison for thy sake.

ANNE

I wish my spit were deadly poison.

RICHARD

Never came poison from so sweet a place.

RICHARD

Poison never came from so sweet a place.

ANNE

Never hung poison on a fouler toad.Out of my sight! Thou dost infect mine eyes.

ANNE

Poison never fell onto a fouler toad. Get out of my sight! You're infecting my eyes.

RICHARD

Thine eyes, sweet lady, have infected mine.

RICHARD

Sweet lady, your eyes have infected mine with love.

ANNE

Would they were basilisks to strike thee dead.

ANNE

I wish they were basilisks, so they could strike you dead.

RICHARD

I would they were, that I might die at once, For now they kill me with a living death. Those eyes of thine from mine have drawn salt tears, Shamed their aspect with store of childish drops. These eyes, which never shed remorseful tear— No, when my father York and Edward wept To hear the piteous moan that Rutland made When black-faced Clifford shook his sword at him; Nor when thy warlike father, like a child, Told the sad story of my father’s death And twenty times made pause to sob and weep, That all the standers-by had wet their cheeks Like trees bedashed with rain—in that sad time, My manly eyes did scorn an humble tear; And what these sorrows could not thence exhale Thy beauty hath, and made them blind with weeping. I never sued to friend, nor enemy; My tongue could never learn sweet smoothing word. But now thy beauty is proposed my fee, My proud heart sues, and prompts my tongue to speak.

RICHARD

I wish they were, so I could die at once. For right now your eyes are killing me with a living death. Your eyes have drawn salty tears from my eyes, making me weep shamefully like a child. My eyes have never cried like this before—not even when my father York and my brother Edward wept at the death of my brother Rutland, who was slaughtered by the gloomy Clifford. And when your warlike father told the sad story of my father's death, and had to pause twenty times to sob and weep like a child, so that all the bystanders' cheeks ended up as wet as trees in a rainstorm—even in that sad time I didn't shed a single tear. All these sorrows couldn't produce tears in me, but your beauty has blinded me with weeping. I never begged a friend or enemy or learned the art of flattery, but if your beauty is the reward, then I'll flatter and beg as much as I have to.

She looks scornfully at him

Teach not thy lip such scorn, for it were made For kissing, lady, not for such contempt. If thy revengeful heart cannot forgive, Lo, here I lend thee this sharp-pointed sword, Which if thou please to hide in this true breast And let the soul forth that adoreth thee, I lay it naked to the deadly stroke And humbly beg the death upon my knee.

Don't teach your lips to curl so scornfully—they were made for kissing, lady, not for such contempt. If your vengeful heart cannot forgive me, then here, take my sharp-pointed sword and bury it in my chest. That way my soul, which adores you, can be free. I lay myself open to being killed, and in fact, I humbly beg for death on my knees.

He kneels and lays his breast open; she offers at it with his sword

Nay, do not pause; for I did kill King Henry— But ’twas thy beauty that provokèd me. Nay, now dispatch; ’twas I that stabbed young Edward— But ’twas thy heavenly face that set me on.

No, don't pause. For I did kill King Henry—though your beauty provoked me to do it. Now go ahead. I was the one who stabbed young Edward—though your heavenly face that drove me to it.

She falls the sword

Take up the sword again, or take up me.

Take up the sword again, or else take me.

ANNE

Arise, dissembler. Though I wish thy death,I will not be the executioner.

ANNE

Stand up, liar. Though I wish you were dead, I won't be your executioner.

RICHARD

[rising] Then bid me kill myself, and I will do it.

RICHARD

[Standing up] Then tell me to kill myself, and I will do it.

ANNE

I have already.

ANNE

I have already.

RICHARD

That was in thy rage. Speak it again and, even with the word, This hand, which for thy love did kill thy love, Shall for thy love kill a far truer love. To both their deaths shalt thou be accessory.

RICHARD

You said it in a rage. Say it again, and as soon as you finish speaking, my hand—which killed your lover out of love for you—will kill your far truer lover. You will be the cause of both these deaths.

ANNE

I would I knew thy heart.

ANNE

I wish I knew what was in your heart.

RICHARD

'Tis figured in my tongue.

RICHARD

The same thing that was in my words.

ANNE

I fear me both are false.

ANNE

I fear that both your heart and your words are false.

RICHARD

Then never man was man true.

RICHARD

Then no man has ever been an honest man.

ANNE

Well, well, put up your sword.

ANNE

Very well, then. Put up your sword.

RICHARD

Say then my peace is made.

RICHARD

Then say that you'll accept me.

ANNE

That shall you know hereafter.

ANNE

You'll know about that later.

RICHARD

But shall I live in hope?

RICHARD

But should I live in hope?

ANNE

All men I hope live so.

ANNE

I hope that all men live in hope.

RICHARD

Vouchsafe to wear this ring.

RICHARD

Consent to wear this ring.

ANNE

To take is not to give.

ANNE

To take is not to give. I'll accept it, but I won't promise anything in return.

He places the ring on her finger

RICHARD

Look, how this ring encompasseth finger; Even so thy breast encloseth my poor heart. Wear both of them, for both of them are thine. And if thy poor devoted servant may But beg one favor at thy gracious hand, Thou dost confirm his happiness forever.

RICHARD

See how this ring encircles your finger. In the same way, my poor heart is enclosed inside your chest. Wear both of them, for both of them are yours. And if I, your poor devoted servant, can ask for one small favor from your gracious hand, then you'll guarantee my happiness forever.

ANNE

What is it?

ANNE

What is it?

RICHARD

That it would please you leave these sad designs To him that hath more cause to be a mourner, And presently repair to Crosby House, Where, after I have solemnly interred At Chertsey monast'ry this noble king And wet his grave with my repentant tears, I will with all expedient duty see you. For divers unknown reasons, I beseech you, Grant me this boon.

RICHARD

Please leave these burial ceremonies for me to finish, as I have more reason to mourn than you do. Go immediately to my estate at Crosby House. After I have solemnly buried this noble king at Chertsey Abbey, and wet his grave with my repentant tears, I will hurry to meet you there. Please do this for me, I beg you. My reasons must remain secret for now.

ANNE

With all my heart, and much it joys me tooTo see you are become so penitent.—Tressel and Berkeley, go along with me.

ANNE

I'll do it with all my heart, and it pleases me to see how remorseful you've become.

[To gentlemen] Tressel and Berkeley, come along with me.

RICHARD

Bid me farewell.

RICHARD

Bid me farewell.

ANNE

'Tis more than you deserve; But since you teach me how to flatter you,Imagine I have said “farewell” already.

ANNE

To "fare well" is more than you deserve. But since you're now teaching me how to flatter you, pretend that I've said "farewell" already.

Exeunt Lady ANNE and two others

RICHARD

Sirs, take up the corse.

RICHARD

Sirs, take up the corpse.

GENTLEMAN

Towards Chertsey, noble lord?

GENTLEMAN

Towards Chertsey, noble lord?

RICHARD

No, to Whitefriars. There attend my coming.

RICHARD

No, towards Whitefriars Monastery. Wait for me there.

Exeunt all but RICHARD

Was ever woman in this humor wooed? Was ever woman in this humor won? I’ll have her, but I will not keep her long. What, I that killed her husband and his father, To take her in her heart’s extremest hate, With curses in her mouth, tears in her eyes, The bleeding witness of my hatred by, Having God, her conscience, and these bars against me, And I no friends to back my suit at all But the plain devil and dissembling looks? And yet to win her, all the world to nothing! Ha! Hath she forgot already that brave prince, Edward, her lord, whom I some three months since Stabbed in my angry mood at Tewkesbury? A sweeter and a lovelier gentleman, Framed in the prodigality of nature, Young, valiant, wise, and, no doubt, right royal, The spacious world cannot again afford. And will she yet abase her eyes on me, That cropped the golden prime of this sweet prince And made her widow to a woeful bed? On me, whose all not equals Edward’s moiety? On me, that halts and am misshapen thus? My dukedom to a beggarly denier, I do mistake my person all this while! Upon my life, she finds, although I cannot, Myself to be a marv'lous proper man. I’ll be at charges for a looking glass And entertain a score or two of tailors To study fashions to adorn my body. Since I am crept in favor with myself, I will maintain it with some little cost. But first I’ll turn yon fellow in his grave And then return lamenting to my love. Shine out, fair sun, till I have bought a glass, That I may see my shadow as I pass.

Has a woman in such a mood ever been courted? Has a woman in such a mood ever been won? I'll get her, but I won't keep her long. How can it be that I—who killed her husband and his father—should win her over at the moment she hates me the most? When her mouth was full of curses, her eyes full of tears, and the bloody corpse of my victim right in front of her? She has God, her conscience, and the evidence of my deeds against me, and I have nothing to back me up but the devil and my own false looks! And yet I won her over, with all odds against me! Ha! Has she already forgotten her brave husband Prince Edward, whom I stabbed in an angry mood three months ago at the Battle of Tewkesbury? The world will never again be able to afford a man like him: such a sweet and lovely gentleman, blessed with all of nature's gifts. He was young, brave, wise, and no doubt meant to be king one day. And now she's going to cheapen herself by turning her eyes on me, who cut short her sweet prince's life and made her a widow in mourning? On me, though I'm less than half of the man that Edward was? On me, who limps along, deformed like this? I'd bet my dukedom on a beggar's penny that I've been wrong about myself all this time! Upon my life, she finds me to be a proper, handsome man—though I can't see it. I should buy a mirror and employ twenty or so tailors to study the current fashions and dress me up. Since I like myself now, it will be worth the cost. But first I'll dump this fellow into his grave and then return, weeping, to my love. Shine out, fair sun, so I can watch my shadow as I pass—until I've bought a mirror to admire my reflection.

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.