A line-by-line translation

The Merry Wives of Windsor

The Merry Wives of Windsor Translation Act 5, Scene 1

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Enter FALSTAFF and MISTRESS QUICKLY

FALSTAFF

Prithee, no more prattling; go. I'll hold. This is the third time; I hope good luck lies in odd numbers. Away I go. They say there is divinity in odd numbers, either in nativity, chance, or death. Away!

FALSTAFF

Please, no more chattering, go. I'll keep the appointment. This is the third time—I hope the third try will turn out to be the lucky one. Get going. They say there's magical power in odd numbers when it comes to birth, luck, or death. Get going! 

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I'll provide you a chain; and I'll do what I can toget you a pair of horns.

MISTRESS QUICKLY

I'll get you a chain, and I'll see what I can do to get you a pair of horns.

FALSTAFF

Away, I say; time wears: hold up your head, and mince.

FALSTAFF

Get going, I say, it's getting late. Hold your head up and strut. 

Exit MISTRESS QUICKLY

Enter FORD

FALSTAFF

How now, Master Brook! Master Brook, the matter will be known to-night, or never. Be you in the Park about midnight, at Herne's oak, and you shall see wonders.

FALSTAFF

Hello there, Master Brook! Master Brook, things will come to a conclusion tonight, or else they never will. Be in the Park around midnight, at Herne's oak, and you'll see things that will astonish you. 

FORD

Went you not to her yesterday, sir, as you told meyou had appointed?

FORD

Didn't you go see her yesterday, sir, like you told me you had planned? 

FALSTAFF

I went to her, Master Brook, as you see, like a poor old man: but I came from her, Master Brook, like a poor old woman. That same knave Ford, her husband, hath the finest mad devil of jealousy in him, Master Brook, that ever governed frenzy. I will tell you: he beat me grievously, in the shape of a woman; for in the shape of man, Master Brook, I fear not Goliath with a weaver's beam; because I know also life is a shuttle. I am in haste; go along with me: I'll tell you all, Master Brook. Since I plucked geese, played truant and whipped top, I knew not what 'twas to be beaten till lately. Follow me: I'll tell you strange things of this knave Ford, on whom to-night I will be revenged, and I will deliver his wife into your hand. Follow. Strange things in hand, Master Brook! Follow.

FALSTAFF

I did go to see her, Master Brook, dressed like I am now, like a poor old man, but when I left her, Master Brook, I was dressed like a poor old woman. That scoundrel Ford, her husband, had the greatest fit of jealousy, Master Brook, that ever drove someone crazy. I'll tell you what happened. He beat me up terribly while I was disguised as a woman—but when I'm dressed as a man, Master Brook, even the strongest man with the largest spear doesn't scare me, for I know that life is short. I'm in a hurry, come with me, I'll tell you everything, Master Brook. Since I I was a child playing pranks, skipping school and spinning a top, I have never been beaten like that until now. Follow me. I'll tell you some extraordinary things about this scoundrel Ford, who I'm going to take revenge on tonight, and I'll get you access to his wife. Follow me. Extraordinary things are about to happen, Master Brook! Follow me.

Exeunt

The merry wives of windsor
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Maria devlin
About the Translator: Maria Devlin

Maria Devlin received her Ph.D. in English Literature from Harvard University, where she specialized in Renaissance drama. She has worked as a bibliographical and editorial assistant for The Norton Anthology of English Literature and for The Norton Shakespeare. She is currently working with Stephen Greenblatt to design online courses on Shakespeare, including the modules "Hamlet's Ghost" and "Shylock's Bond" offered through HarvardX. She is writing a book on Renaissance comedy.

Maria Devlin wishes to credit the following sources, which she consulted extensively in composing her translations and annotations:

William Shakespeare. The New Oxford Shakespeare: Modern Critical Edition. Eds. Gary Taylor et al. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

William Shakespeare. The Norton Shakespeare, 3rd ed. Eds. Stephen Greenblatt et al. New York: W.W. Norton& Company, Inc., 2016.