A line-by-line translation

The Merchant of Venice

The Merchant of Venice Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Enter ANTONIO, SALERIO, and SOLANIO

ANTONIO

In sooth, I know not why I am so sad. It wearies me; you say it wearies you. But how I caught it, found it, or came by it, What stuff ’tis made of, whereof it is born, I am to learn. And such a want-wit sadness makes of me, That I have much ado to know myself.

ANTONIO

To tell the truth, I don't know why I am so sad. I'm tired of being sad, and you say you're tired of it, too. But I don't know how I caught, found, or came by this sadness; what it's about; or where it came from. And since I don't know anything about this sadness, I clearly have a ways to go in understanding myself.

SALERIO

Your mind is tossing on the ocean, There, where your argosies with portly sail, Like signors and rich burghers on the flood— Or, as it were, the pageants of the sea— Do overpeer the petty traffickers That curtsy to them, do them reverence As they fly by them with their woven wings.

SALERIO

Your mind is focused on the ocean where your merchant ships are sailing like rich, important men parading on the sea. They tower over the little trade boats that they pass by, sailing along, and it's as if the little boats bow before the greatness of your ships.

SOLANIO

Believe me, sir, had I such venture forth, The better part of my affections would Be with my hopes abroad. I should be still Plucking the grass to know where sits the wind, Peering in maps for ports and piers and roads. And every object that might make me fear Misfortune to my ventures out of doubt Would make me sad.

SOLANIO

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SALERIO

My wind cooling my broth Would blow me to an ague when I thought What harm a wind too great at sea might do. I should not see the sandy hourglass run, But I should think of shallows and of flats And see my wealthy Andrew docked in sand, Vailing her high top lower than her ribs To kiss her burial. Should I go to church And see the holy edifice of stone And not bethink me straight of dangerous rocks, Which, touching but my gentle vessel’s side, Would scatter all her spices on the stream, Enrobe the roaring waters with my silks, And, in a word, but even now worth this, And now worth nothing? Shall I have the thought To think on this, and shall I lack the thought That such a thing bechanced would make me sad? But tell not me. I know Antonio Is sad to think upon his merchandise.

SALERIO

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ANTONIO

Believe me, no. I thank my fortune for it— My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place, nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year. Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad.

ANTONIO

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SOLANIO

Why then, you are in love.

SOLANIO

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ANTONIO

Fie, fie!

ANTONIO

Lorem ipsu

SOLANIO

Not in love neither? Then let us say you are sad Because you are not merry— and ’twere as easy For you to laugh and leap and say you are merry Because you are not sad. Now, by two-headed Janus, Nature hath framed strange fellows in her time. Some that will evermore peep through their eyes And laugh like parrots at a bagpiper, And other of such vinegar aspect That they’ll not show their teeth in way of smile Though Nestor swear the jest be laughable.

SOLANIO

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Enter BASSANIO, LORENZO, and GRATIANO

Here comes Bassanio, your most noble kinsman,Gratiano, and Lorenzo. Fare ye well.We leave you now with better company.

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SALERIO

I would have stayed till I had made you merryIf worthier friends had not prevented me.

SALERIO

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ANTONIO

Your worth is very dear in my regard.I take it your own business calls on youAnd you embrace th' occasion to depart.

ANTONIO

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SALERIO

[to BASSANIO, LORENZO, GRATIANO] Good morrow, my good lords.

SALERIO

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BASSANIO

[to SALERIO and SOLANIO] Good signors both, when shall we laugh? Say, when?You grow exceeding strange. Must it be so?

BASSANIO

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SALERIO

We’ll make our leisures to attend on yours.

SALERIO

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Exeunt SALERIO and SOLANIO

LORENZO

My Lord Bassanio, since you have found Antonio, We two will leave you. But at dinnertimeI pray you have in mind where we must meet.

LORENZO

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BASSANIO

I will not fail you.

BASSANIO

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GRATIANO

You look not well, Signor Antonio. You have too much respect upon the world. They lose it that do buy it with much care. Believe me, you are marvelously changed.

GRATIANO

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ANTONIO

I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano—A stage where every man must play a part,And mine a sad one.

ANTONIO

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GRATIANO

Let me play the fool. With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come. And let my liver rather heat with wine Than my heart cool with mortifying groans. Why should a man whose blood is warm within Sit like his grandsire cut in alabaster, Sleep when he wakes, and creep into the jaundice By being peevish? I tell thee what, Antonio— I love thee, and ’tis my love that speaks— There are a sort of men whose visages Do cream and mantle like a standing pond, And do a willful stillness entertain With purpose to be dressed in an opinion Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit, As who should say, “I am Sir Oracle, And when I ope my lips, let no dog bark!” O my Antonio, I do know of these That therefore only are reputed wise For saying nothing, when I am very sure If they should speak, would almost damn those ears Which, hearing them, would call their brothers fools. I’ll tell thee more of this another time. But fish not with this melancholy bait For this fool gudgeon, this opinion.— Come, good Lorenzo.—Fare ye well awhile. I’ll end my exhortation after dinner.

GRATIANO

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LORENZO

Well, we will leave you then till dinnertime. I must be one of these same dumb wise men, For Gratiano never lets me speak.

LORENZO

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GRATIANO

Well, keep me company but two years more,Thou shalt not know the sound of thine own tongue.

GRATIANO

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ANTONIO

Farewell. I’ll grow a talker for this gear.

ANTONIO

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GRATIANO

Thanks, i' faith, for silence is only commendableIn a neat’s tongue dried and a maid not vendible.

GRATIANO

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Exeunt GRATIANO and LORENZO

ANTONIO

Is that any thing now?

ANTONIO

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BASSANIO

Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff —you shall seek all dayere you find them, and when you have them they are not worth the search.

BASSANIO

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ANTONIO

Well, tell me now what lady is the same To whom you swore a secret pilgrimage,That you today promised to tell me of?

ANTONIO

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BASSANIO

'Tis not unknown to you, Antonio, How much I have disabled mine estate, By something showing a more swelling port Than my faint means would grant continuance. Nor do I now make moan to be abridged From such a noble rate. But my chief care Is to come fairly off from the great debts Wherein my time something too prodigal Hath left me gaged. To you, Antonio, I owe the most in money and in love, And from your love I have a warranty To unburden all my plots and purposes How to get clear of all the debts I owe.

BASSANIO

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ANTONIO

I pray you, good Bassanio, let me know it. And if it stand, as you yourself still do, Within the eye of honor, be assured My purse, my person, my extremest means Lie all unlocked to your occasions.

ANTONIO

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BASSANIO

In my school days, when I had lost one shaft, I shot his fellow of the selfsame flight The selfsame way with more advisèd watch To find the other forth— and by adventuring both, I oft found both. I urge this childhood proof Because what follows is pure innocence. I owe you much, and, like a willful youth, That which I owe is lost. But if you please To shoot another arrow that self way Which you did shoot the first, I do not doubt, As I will watch the aim, or to find both Or bring your latter hazard back again And thankfully rest debtor for the first.

BASSANIO

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ANTONIO

You know me well, and herein spend but time To wind about my love with circumstance. And out of doubt you do me now more wrong In making question of my uttermost Than if you had made waste of all I have. Then do but say to me what I should do That in your knowledge may by me be done, And I am pressed unto it. Therefore speak.

ANTONIO

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BASSANIO

In Belmont is a lady richly left, And she is fair and—fairer than that word— Of wondrous virtues. Sometimes from her eyes I did receive fair speechless messages. Her name is Portia, nothing undervalued To Cato’s daughter, Brutus' Portia. Nor is the wide world ignorant of her worth, For the four winds blow in from every coast Renownèd suitors, and her sunny locks Hang on her temples like a golden fleece, Which makes her seat of Belmont Colchos' strand, And many Jasons come in quest of her. O my Antonio, had I but the means To hold a rival place with one of them, I have a mind presages me such thrift That I should questionless be fortunate!

BASSANIO

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ANTONIO

Thou know’st that all my fortunes are at sea. Neither have I money nor commodity To raise a present sum. Therefore go forth, Try what my credit can in Venice do— That shall be racked even to the uttermost To furnish thee to Belmont, to fair Portia. Go presently inquire, and so will I, Where money is, and I no question make To have it of my trust or for my sake.

ANTONIO

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Exeunt

The merchant of venice
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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.