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Richard III

Richard III Translation Act 2, Scene 2

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Enter the old DUCHESS of York, with the two children of Clarence

BOY

Good grandam, tell us, is our father dead?

BOY

Good grandmother, tell us, is our father dead?

DUCHESS

No, boy.

DUCHESS

No, boy.

GIRL

Why do you weep so oft, and beat your breast,And cry, “O Clarence, my unhappy son?”

GIRL

Then why do you weep so often, and beat your chest, and cry, "Oh, Clarence, my unlucky son?"

BOY

Why do you look on us and shake your head,And call us orphans, wretches, castaways,If that our noble father were alive?

BOY

If our noble father is still alive, why do you look at us and shake your head, and call us orphans, wretches, and castaways?

DUCHESS

My pretty cousins, you mistake me both. I do lament the sickness of the king, As loath to lose him, not your father’s death. It were lost sorrow to wail one that’s lost.

DUCHESS

My pretty grandchildren, you both misunderstand me. I'm lamenting the sickness of the king, because I don't want to lose him. I'm not lamenting your father's death. It would be wasted sorrow to cry over someone who's already dead.

BOY

Then, you conclude, my grandam, he is dead. The king mine uncle is to blame for it. God will revenge it, whom I will importune With earnest prayers, all to that effect.

BOY

Then, my grandmother, you're admitting that our father is dead. My uncle, the king, is to blame for it. God will revenge it, and I'll pray earnestly every day that he does so.

GIRL

And so will I.

GIRL

And so will I.

DUCHESS

Peace, children, peace. The king doth love you well.Incapable and shallow innocents,You cannot guess who caused your father’s death.

DUCHESS

Quiet, children, quiet. The king loves you both very much. You innocent, naive children, you cannot guess who caused your father's death.

BOY

Grandam, we can, for my good uncle Gloucester Told me the king, provoked to it by the queen, Devised impeachments to imprison him; And when my uncle told me so, he wept, And pitied me, and kindly kissed my cheek, Bade me rely on him as on my father, And he would love me dearly as a child.

BOY

But we can, grandmother, for my good uncle Richard told me. He said that the king was provoked by the queen to make up accusations against my father that would get him arrested. When my uncle told me about this he wept, and pitied me, and kindly kissed my cheek. He told me that I could rely on him as if he were my father, and that he would love me as dearly as if I were his child.

DUCHESS

Ah, that deceit should steal such gentle shape, And with a virtuous visor hide deep vice. He is my son, ay, and therein my shame, Yet from my dugs he drew not this deceit.

DUCHESS

Ah, it's terrible that liars can steal the appearance of gentle people, and hide their wickedness under a virtuous mask. Yes, he is my son. And in being my son, he is the source of my shame as a mother. But he didn't get his deceitfulness from my breast.

BOY

Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?

BOY

Do you think that my uncle was lying, grandmother?

DUCHESS

Ay, boy.

DUCHESS

Yes, boy.

BOY

I cannot think it. Hark, what noise is this?

BOY

I can't believe it. Wait, what's that noise?

Enter QUEEN ELIZABETH, with her hair about her ears, RIVERS, and DORSET after her

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Ah, who shall hinder me to wail and weep, To chide my fortune and torment myself? I’ll join with black despair against my soul And to myself become an enemy.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Ah, who can stop me from wailing and weeping, cursing my bad luck, and tormenting myself? I'll ally myself with the black despair that threatens my soul, and become my own enemy.

DUCHESS

What means this scene of rude impatience?

DUCHESS

What do you mean by this melodramatic scene?

QUEEN ELIZABETH

To make an act of tragic violence. Edward, my lord, thy son, our king, is dead. Why grow the branches when the root is gone? Why wither not the leaves that want their sap? If you will live, lament. If die, be brief, That our swift-wingèd souls may catch the king’s, Or, like obedient subjects, follow him To his new kingdom of ne'er-changing night.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

I'm performing the violent tragedy of my life. Edward—my husband, your son, our king—is dead. Why should we keep living when our leader and lifeblood is gone? How can the branches keep growing when the root is gone? Why aren't the leaves withering now that the sap is dried up? If you will live, then lament. If you will die, then be quick about it, so our swift-winged souls might catch up with the king's—or at least follow him, like obedient subjects, into his new kingdom of never-ending night.

DUCHESS

Ah, so much interest have I in thy sorrow As I had title in thy noble husband. I have bewept a worthy husband’s death And lived with looking on his images; But now two mirrors of his princely semblance Are cracked in pieces by malignant death, And I, for comfort, have but one false glass That grieves me when I see my shame in him. Thou art a widow, yet thou art a mother, And hast the comfort of thy children left, But death hath snatched my husband from mine arms And plucked two crutches from my feeble hands, Clarence and Edward. O, what cause have I, Thine being but a moiety of my moan, To overgo thy woes and drown thy cries!

DUCHESS

Ah, I was your noble husband's mother, so I have just as large a share in your grief. I've already wept over my own worthy husband's death and kept myself alive only by looking at his sons, his mirror images. But now two of those mirrors have been cracked into pieces by death, and the only one left to comfort me is Richard—an untrustworthy mirror who only causes me shame and grief. You are a widow, but you're also a mother, and you still have the comfort of your children left. But death has snatched my husband from my arms and then plucked my two crutches, Clarence and Edward, from my feeble hands. Oh, I have every reason to surpass you in sorrow and drown out your weeping with my own, as your loss is only half of mine!

BOY

[to QUEEN ELIZABETH] Ah, aunt, you wept not for our father’s death.How can we aid you with our kindred tears?

BOY

[To QUEEN ELIZABETH] Oh, Aunt, you didn't weep for our father's death. So why would we help you with our tears?

GIRL

Our fatherless distress was left unmoaned. Your widow-dolor likewise be unwept!

GIRL

You didn't mourn with us when we were left fatherless. Your sadness as a widow will likewise go unmourned by us!

QUEEN ELIZABETH

G ive me no help in lamentation. I am not barren to bring forth complaints. All springs reduce their currents to mine eyes, That I, being governed by the watery moon, May send forth plenteous tears to drown the world. Ah, for my husband, for my dear lord Edward!

QUEEN ELIZABETH

I don't need any help in mourning. I am full of sorrows to complain about. May all the earth's springs keep my eyes replenished with tears, so that when the tide is high in the ocean of my weeping, I can drown the world. Ah, for my husband, my dear lord Edward!

CHILDREN

Ah, for our father, for our dear lord Clarence!

CHILDREN

Ah, for our father, for our dear lord Clarence!

DUCHESS

Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!

DUCHESS

Alas for both Edward and Clarence, both mine!

QUEEN ELIZABETH

What stay had I but Edward? And he’s gone.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

What support did I have besides Edward? And he's dead.

CHILDREN

What stay had we but Clarence? And he’s gone.

CHILDREN

What support did we have besides Clarence? And he's dead.

DUCHESS

What stays had I but they? And they are gone.

DUCHESS

What supports did I have besides both of them? And they are dead.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Was never widow had so dear a loss.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

A widow never suffered so great a loss.

CHILDREN

Were never orphans had so dear a loss.

CHILDREN

Orphans never suffered so great a loss.

DUCHESS

Was never mother had so dear a loss. Alas, I am the mother of these griefs. Their woes are parceled; mine are general. She for an Edward weeps, and so do I; I for a Clarence weep; so doth not she. These babes for Clarence weep and so do I; I for an Edward weep; so do not they. Alas, you three, on me, threefold distressed, Pour all your tears. I am your sorrow’s nurse, And I will pamper it with lamentations.

DUCHESS

A mother never suffered so great a loss. Alas, I am the mother of these griefs. Each of you has only a single loss, while I suffer all of them. Elizabeth weeps for Edward, and so do I, but she does not weep for Clarence like I do. These children weep for Clarence, and so do I, but they don't weep for Edward like I do. You three should pour all your tears onto me. I will be your sorrow's nurse, and feed your tears with more mourning.

DORSET

[to QUEEN ELIZABETH] Comfort, dear mother. God is much displeased That you take with unthankfulness, his doing. In common worldly things, ’tis called ungrateful With dull unwillingness to repay a debt Which with a bounteous hand was kindly lent; Much more to be thus opposite with heaven, For it requires the royal debt it lent you.

DORSET

[To QUEEN ELIZABETH] Dear Mother, let yourself be comforted. God is displeased that you respond to his doings so unthankfully. In everyday business, it's considered ungrateful if someone is unwilling to repay a debt which was generously loaned in the first place. It's much worse to be so opposed to heaven, now that it requires the royal debt it lent to you.

RIVERS

Madam, bethink you, like a careful mother, Of the young prince your son. Send straight for him. Let him be crowned. In him your comfort lives. Drown desperate sorrow in dead Edward’s grave And plant your joys in living Edward’s throne.

RIVERS

Madam, think of your son, the young prince, and be a careful mother. Send for him right away. Let him be crowned king. He is your hope for future peace of mind. Drown your desperate sorrows in dead Edward's grave, and plant your future joys in Prince Edward's new throne.

Enter RICHARD, BUCKINGHAM, STANLEY, HASTINGS, and RATCLIFFE

RICHARD

Sister, have comfort. All of us have cause To wail the dimming of our shining star, But none can help our harms by wailing them.— Madam, my mother, I do cry you mercy; I did not see your Grace. Humbly on my knee I crave your blessing.

RICHARD

Sister, let yourself be comforted. All of us have reason to mourn the dimming of the king, our shining star, but none of us can help anything by wailing.

[To DUCHESS] Oh madam, my mother, I beg your pardon. I didn't see your Grace. On my knees, I humbly ask for your blessing.

He kneels

DUCHESS

God bless thee, and put meekness in thy breast,Love, charity, obedience, and true duty.

DUCHESS

God bless you, and fill you with humility, love, charity, obedience, and true duty.

RICHARD

[standing] Amen. [aside] And make me die a good old man! That is the butt end of a mother’s blessing;I marvel that her Grace did leave it out.

RICHARD

[Standing up] Amen. 

[To himself] And make me die a good old man! That should be the conclusion of a mother's blessing. I'm surprised that she left it out.

BUCKINGHAM

You cloudy princes and heart-sorrowing peers That bear this heavy mutual load of moan, Now cheer each other in each other’s love. Though we have spent our harvest of this king, We are to reap the harvest of his son. The broken rancor of your high-swoll'n hates, But lately splintered, knit, and joined together, Must gently be preserved, cherished, and kept. Meseemeth good that with some little train Forthwith from Ludlow the young prince be fet Hither to London, to be crowned our king.

BUCKINGHAM

You weeping princes and sorrowful nobles who bear this mutual weight of grief, let us now cheer each other up with our love. Though we have lost our old, fruitful king, we will now reap the harvest of his son. Our former hatreds were only recently broken and then rejoined as friendship, and now we must gently preserve, cherish, and keep this new goodwill. It seems like a good idea that a small group of us should now set out for Ludlow Castle in Wales, to fetch the young prince and bring him here to London, where he will be crowned our king.

RIVERS

Why “with some little train,” my Lord of Buckingham?

RIVERS

Why only a "small group," my Lord of Buckingham?

BUCKINGHAM

Marry, my lord, lest by a multitude The new-healed wound of malice should break out, Which would be so much the more dangerous By how much the estate is green and yet ungoverned. Where every horse bears his commanding rein And may direct his course as please himself, As well the fear of harm as harm apparent, In my opinion, ought to be prevented.

BUCKINGHAM

Well, my lord, if a large group goes, the newly-healed hostilities between us might break out again. This could be very dangerous, as the Yorkist rule is still new and untested. We should prevent a situation where it seems like every man is out for himself, with everyone paranoid about imagined enemies.

RICHARD

I hope the king made peace with all of us;And the compact is firm and true in me.

RICHARD

The king tried to make peace among all of us, and I hope he succeeded. For me, at least, those vows of friendship were firm and true.

RIVERS

And so in me, and so, I think, in all. Yet since it is but green, it should be put To no apparent likelihood of breach, Which haply by much company might be urged. Therefore I say with noble Buckingham That it is meet so few should fetch the prince.

RIVERS

And for me also. And so, I think, for all of us. But since our agreement is so fresh, we shouldn't risk putting it under too much stress—which might happen if all of us go at once to fetch the prince. So I agree with noble Buckingham that it's best for only a few to go.

HASTINGS

And so say I.

HASTINGS

And I agree.

RICHARD

Then be it so, and go we to determine Who they shall be that straight shall post to Ludlow.— Madam, and you, my sister, will you go To give your censures in this business?

RICHARD

Then we'll do that. Now let's go and figure out which of us will ride off to Ludlow.

[To DUCHESS and QUEEN ELIZABETH] Mother, and you, my sister-in-law, will you go and offer your judgments in this business?

Exeunt all but BUCKINGHAM and RICHARD

BUCKINGHAM

My lord, whoever journeys to the prince, For God’s sake let not us two at home. For by the way I’ll sort occasion, As index to the story we late talked of, To part the queen’s proud kindred from the prince.

BUCKINGHAM

My lord, whoever ends up journeying to meet the prince, for God's sake let us be part of the group. Along the way I'll create an opportunity to separate him from the queen's proud relatives—as the first step in the plan we discussed recently.

RICHARD

My other self, my council’s consistory, My oracle, my prophet, my dear cousin, I, as a child, will go by thy direction Toward Ludlow then, for we’ll not stay behind.

RICHARD

My dear cousin, you are my other self, my council of advisors, my oracle, my prophet! I will let you lead me like a child. Let's go to Wales then, for we won't stay behind.

Exeunt

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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.