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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 2, Scene 4

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Enter DEMETRIUS and CHIRON with LAVINIA, ravished; her hands cut off, and her tongue cut out

DEMETRIUS

So, now go tell, an if thy tongue can speak,Who 'twas that cut thy tongue and ravish'd thee.

DEMETRIUS

So, now go try to tell what happened—if your tongue can speak, say who cut out your tongue and raped you. 

CHIRON

Write down thy mind, bewray thy meaning so,An if thy stumps will let thee play the scribe.

CHIRON

Write it down and explain yourself that way—if you can write with those stumps.

DEMETRIUS

See, how with signs and tokens she can scrowl.

DEMETRIUS

See, she can say what she means by gesturing at us. 

CHIRON

Go home, call for sweet water, wash thy hands.

CHIRON

Go home, ask for sweet water to wash your hands. 

DEMETRIUS

She hath no tongue to call, nor hands to wash;And so let's leave her to her silent walks.

DEMETRIUS

She has no tongue to speak and no hands to wash, so let's leave her to walk alone in silence. 

CHIRON

An 'twere my case, I should go hang myself.

CHIRON

If it were me, I'd hang myself.

DEMETRIUS

If thou hadst hands to help thee knit the cord.

DEMETRIUS

If you had hands to help you tie the knot.

Exeunt DEMETRIUS and CHIRON

Enter MARCUS

MARCUS

Who is this? my niece, that flies away so fast! Cousin, a word; where is your husband? If I do dream, would all my wealth would wake me! If I do wake, some planet strike me down, That I may slumber in eternal sleep! Speak, gentle niece, what stern ungentle hands Have lopp'd and hew'd and made thy body bare Of her two branches, those sweet ornaments, Whose circling shadows kings have sought to sleep in, And might not gain so great a happiness As have thy love? Why dost not speak to me? Alas, a crimson river of warm blood, Like to a bubbling fountain stirr'd with wind, Doth rise and fall between thy rosed lips, Coming and going with thy honey breath. But, sure, some Tereus hath deflowered thee, And, lest thou shouldst detect him, cut thy tongue. Ah, now thou turn'st away thy face for shame! And, notwithstanding all this loss of blood, As from a conduit with three issuing spouts, Yet do thy cheeks look red as Titan's face Blushing to be encountered with a cloud. Shall I speak for thee? shall I say 'tis so? O, that I knew thy heart; and knew the beast, That I might rail at him, to ease my mind! Sorrow concealed, like an oven stopp'd, Doth burn the heart to cinders where it is. Fair Philomela, she but lost her tongue, And in a tedious sampler sew'd her mind: But, lovely niece, that mean is cut from thee; A craftier Tereus, cousin, hast thou met, And he hath cut those pretty fingers off, That could have better sew'd than Philomel. O, had the monster seen those lily hands Tremble, like aspen-leaves, upon a lute, And make the silken strings delight to kiss them, He would not then have touch'd them for his life! Or, had he heard the heavenly harmony Which that sweet tongue hath made, He would have dropp'd his knife, and fell asleep As Cerberus at the Thracian poet's feet. Come, let us go, and make thy father blind; For such a sight will blind a father's eye: One hour's storm will drown the fragrant meads; What will whole months of tears thy father's eyes? Do not draw back, for we will mourn with thee O, could our mourning ease thy misery!

MARCUS

Who is this? [Sees LAVINIA] My niece, running away from me so fast! Cousin, wait; where's your husband? If I'm dreaming, I would give everything I own to wake up from this nightmare! And if I did wake up, I'd want to die rather than see this. Tell me, sweet niece, who has cut off those two branches, your arms, which kings have desired to sleep in, and thought there could be no greater happiness than to have your love? Why don't you speak to me? Oh, a red river of blood falls from your lips like a fountain, stirred by the wind of your sweet breath. Surely some Tereus has raped you, and, to stop you from naming him, has cut out your tongue. Ah, now you turn away your face, ashamed, and you blush—although you've lost so much blood already from three different spouts. Your cheeks are as red as the sun, that blushes when hidden by a cloud. Can I speak for you? Can I say that I have it right? Oh, I wish I knew what was in your heart—and that I knew the beast who did this, so that I could vent my rage at him. Unexpressed sorrow burns the heart to ashes. Fair Philomela just lost her tongue, and sewed a picture of what was done to her; but, lovely niece, that method won't work for you, since a more cunning Tereus has cut off those pretty fingers that could have sewed better than Philomel. Oh, if the monster had seen those white hands play the lute and make the strings themselves want to kiss them, he would not have touched them were his life at stake! Or if he'd heard the sweet music of your voice, he would have dropped his knife and fallen asleep like Cerberus at the feet of the Thracian poet. Come with me, let's find your father, and make him blind—for such a sight would blind any father's eye with tears. An hour of rain can drown a meadow; what will whole months of tears do to your father's eyes? Don't move away, but come with me, for we'll mourn with you. Oh, if only our mourning could ease your misery! 

Exeunt

Titus andronicus
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Eve houghton
About the Translator: Eve Houghton

Eve Houghton graduated from Yale College in 2017 and is currently pursuing the MPhil in Renaissance Literature at the University of Cambridge. In 2018, she will return to Yale to begin her PhD in English. Her research interests include early modern commonplace books and note-taking practices, paratexts, reception studies, and the history of reading.