A line-by-line translation

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

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GIRL

And so will I.

GIRL

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DUCHESS

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

DUCHESS

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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

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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

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BOY

Think you my uncle did dissemble, grandam?

BOY

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DUCHESS

Ay, boy.

DUCHESS

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BOY

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

BOY

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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

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DUCHESS

What means this scene of rude impatience?

DUCHESS

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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

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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

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BOY

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

BOY

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GIRL

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

GIRL

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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

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CHILDREN

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

CHILDREN

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DUCHESS

Alas for both, both mine, Edward and Clarence!

DUCHESS

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QUEEN ELIZABETH

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

QUEEN ELIZABETH

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CHILDREN

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

CHILDREN

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DUCHESS

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

DUCHESS

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QUEEN ELIZABETH

Was never widow had so dear a loss.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

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CHILDREN

Were never orphans had so dear a loss.

CHILDREN

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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

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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

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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

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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

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He kneels

DUCHESS

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

DUCHESS

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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

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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

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RIVERS

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

RIVERS

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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

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RICHARD

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

RICHARD

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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

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HASTINGS

And so say I.

HASTINGS

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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

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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

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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

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Exeunt

Richard iii
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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.