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The Tempest

The Tempest Translation Act 1, Scene 1

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Loud sounds of a storm with thunder and lightning. A ship’s MASTER and BOATSWAIN enter.

MASTER

Boatswain!

MASTER

Boatswain! 

BOATSWAIN

Here, master. What cheer?

BOATSWAIN

Here I am, sir. What do you need?

MASTER

Good, speak to th' mariners. Fall to ’t yarely, or we run ourselves aground. Bestir, bestir.

MASTER

Good man, speak to the sailors to get them working harder. Do it quickly, or we’re going to be shipwrecked. Move, move!

The MASTER exits.

SAILORS enter.

BOATSWAIN

Heigh, my hearts! Cheerly, cheerly, my hearts! Yare! Yare!Take in the topsail. Tend to th' master’s whistle. Blow, till thou burst thy wind, if room enough!

BOATSWAIN

Come on, my boys! Cheer up, cheer up, my boys! Quickly! Quickly! Pull down the topmost sail. Follow the master’s whistled commands. Blow, you wind, until you have nothing left to blast! We’ll survive as long as we have enough room to maneuver without running aground.

ALONSO, SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, FERDINAND, GONZALO, and others enter.

ALONSO

Good Boatswain, have care. Where’s the Master?Play the men.

ALONSO

Good Boatswain, be careful! Where’s the Master? Urge these men to work harder.

BOATSWAIN

I pray now, keep below.

BOATSWAIN

I ask you, please stay below deck now.

ANTONIO

Where is the Master, Boatswain?

ANTONIO

Where is the Master, Boatswain?

BOATSWAIN

Do you not hear him? You mar our labor. Keep your cabins.You do assist the storm.

BOATSWAIN

Can’t you hear him shouting commands? You’re interfering with our work. Stay in your cabins. You’re helping the storm.

GONZALO

Nay, good, be patient.

GONZALO

Please be calm, my good man.

BOATSWAIN

When the sea is. Hence! What cares these roarers for the name of king? To cabin, silence! Trouble us not.

BOATSWAIN

I’ll be calm when the sea is. Get out of here! These waves don’t care that someone here is a king. Get to your cabins and be quiet! Stop bothering us.

GONZALO

Good, yet remember whom thou hast aboard.

GONZALO

Good man, please remember whom you’ve got on board.

BOATSWAIN

None that I more love than myself. You are a councilor.If you can command these elements to silence and work the peace of the present, we will not hand a rope more. Use your authority. If you cannot, give thanks you have lived so long and make yourself ready in your cabin for the mischance of the hour, if it so hap.— Cheerly, good hearts!— Out of our way, I say.

BOATSWAIN

Not one person that I care about more than myself. You’re a king’s advisor. If you can order the storm to stop, or negotiate a peace with it, we sailors will all stop working with our ropes and take a rest. Use your authority and do it. If you can’t, be thankful that you’ve lived as long as you have, and go to your cabin and prepare yourself to face death, should the worst happen. 

[To SAILORS] Work, my boys! 

[To GONZALO] Now, I’m telling you, get out of our way.

The BOATSWAIN exits.

GONZALO

I have great comfort from this fellow. Methinks he hathno drowning mark upon him. His complexion is perfect gallows. Stand fast, good Fate, to his hanging. Make therope of his destiny our cable, for our own doth little advantage. If he be not born to be hanged, our case is miserable.

GONZALO

That man makes me feel a lot more confident. It seems to me that he doesn’t look like he’s fated to die by drowning. Instead he looks like he’s destined to die by hanging. Good Fate, hold strong, and make sure that man survives this storm so that one day he can hanged. May the rope fated to hold him by the neck save us, because the ropes we have on the ship don’t seem to be helping us much. If he’s not fated to be hanged, then things look bleak for us.

GONZALO exits with the other men of the royal court.

The BOATSWAIN enters.

BOATSWAIN

Down with the topmast! Yare, lower, lower! Bring her totry wi' th' main course.

BOATSWAIN

Bring down the top sail! Quickly, lower, lower! Bring the ship in line with the wind using the main sail.

A shout offstage.

BOATSWAIN

A plague upon this howling! They are louder than the weather or our office.

BOATSWAIN

Curse those men shouting below decks! They’re louder than the storm and distracting us from our duties.

SEBASTIAN, ANTONIO, and GONZALO enter.

BOATSWAIN

Yet again? What do you here? Shall we give o'er and drown?Have you a mind to sink?

BOATSWAIN

You’re up on deck again? What are you doing here? Should we just give up and drown? Are you in the mood to sink?

SEBASTIAN

A pox o' your throat, you bawling, blasphemous, incharitable dog!

SEBASTIAN

Curse you! Shut up, you wimpy, offensive, ungenerous dog!

BOATSWAIN

Work you, then.

BOATSWAIN

Do some work, then.

ANTONIO

Hang, cur! Hang, you whoreson insolent noisemaker! We are less afraid to be drowned than thou art.

ANTONIO

Go hang yourself, you rascal! Hang yourself, you loud, disrespectful bastard! We’re less afraid of drowning than you are.

GONZALO

I’ll warrant him for drowning though the ship were no stronger than a nutshell and as leaky as an unstanched wench.

GONZALO

I guarantee he’ll never drown, not even if the ship were as fragile as a nutshell and as leaky as a menstruating woman.

BOATSWAIN

Lay her a-hold, a-hold! Set her two courses off to sea again.Lay her off!

BOATSWAIN

Turn the ship close to the wind! Set both sails to push us back out to sea! Push her away from the land!

Wet SAILORS enter

MARINERS

All lost! To prayers, to prayers, all lost!

MARINERS

We’re going to die! Pray, pray! We’re going to die!

The SAILORS exit.

BOATSWAIN

What, must our mouths be cold?

BOATSWAIN

What, must we drown in the cold water?

GONZALO

The king and prince at prayers. Let’s assist them, for our case is as theirs.

GONZALO

The king and the prince are praying. Let’s pray with them, since we share their situation.

SEBASTIAN

I’m out of patience.

SEBASTIAN

I’ve lost all my patience.

ANTONIO

We are merely cheated of our lives by drunkards. This wide-chopped rascal—would thou mightst lie drowning the washing of ten tides!

ANTONIO

We’ve had our lives completely taken from us by a bunch of drunken sailors. As for this bigmouthed rascal of a boatswain—

[To BOATSWAIN] I hope you drown ten times!

GONZALO

He’ll be hanged yet, though every drop of water swear against it and gape at widest to glut him.

GONZALO

He’ll still end up hanged, even if every drop of water in the ocean swears he won't, and opens its mouth wide to try to swallow him.

A chaotic noise sounds offstage.

VOICES

[within] Mercy on us! We split, we split! Farewell, my wife and children! Farewell, brother! We split, we split, we split!

VOICES

[Offstage] God have mercy on us! The ship’s splitting apart; the ship's splitting! Goodbye, my wife and children! Goodbye, brother! The ship's splitting, splitting, splitting!

ANTONIO

Let’s all sink wi' th' king.

ANTONIO

Let’s all sink with the king.

SEBASTIAN

Let’s take leave of him.

SEBASTIAN

Let’s say goodbye to him.

ANTONIO and SEBASTIAN exit.

GONZALO

Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acreof barren ground: long heath, brown furze, anything. The wills above be done, but I would fain die a dry death.

GONZALO

I’d give 125 square miles of sea for a single acre of infertile ground: an empty plain, plants growing in bad soil, anything. What's fated to be will be, but I'd be happier to die a dry death.

They exit.

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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.