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Titus Andronicus

Titus Andronicus Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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Enter TITUS, MARCUS, LAVINIA and Young LUCIUS, a boy

TITUS ANDRONICUS

So, so; now sit: and look you eat no more Than will preserve just so much strength in us As will revenge these bitter woes of ours. Marcus, unknit that sorrow-wreathen knot: Thy niece and I, poor creatures, want our hands, And cannot passionate our tenfold grief With folded arms. This poor right hand of mine Is left to tyrannize upon my breast; Who, when my heart, all mad with misery, Beats in this hollow prison of my flesh, Then thus I thump it down. [To LAVINIA] Thou map of woe, that thus dost talk in signs! When thy poor heart beats with outrageous beating, Thou canst not strike it thus to make it still. Wound it with sighing, girl, kill it with groans; Or get some little knife between thy teeth, And just against thy heart make thou a hole; That all the tears that thy poor eyes let fall May run into that sink, and soaking in Drown the lamenting fool in sea-salt tears.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

There, there. Sit down. And make sure you eat no more than will keep us alive long enough to take revenge on our enemies. Marcus, unfold your arms: your niece and I, poor creatures, lack hands and can’t show ten times more sadness by standing like that. Instead, I have to beat my breast with my poor remaining right hand. My heart beats in the hollow prison of my body, enraged with misery, and I thump it down. 

[To LAVINIA] You map of grief, talking in sign language! When your poor heart beats fast, you can’t strike your chest to make it quiet. Try sighing, my girl, or kill it with groans. Or take a little knife between your teeth and make a hole against your heart, so all the tears that fall from your poor eyes may run in and drown it.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Fie, brother, fie! teach her not thus to laySuch violent hands upon her tender life.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Brother, stop! Don’t tell her how to lay violent hands on herself.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

How now! has sorrow made thee dote already? Why, Marcus, no man should be mad but I. What violent hands can she lay on her life? Ah, wherefore dost thou urge the name of hands; To bid AEneas tell the tale twice o'er, How Troy was burnt and he made miserable? O, handle not the theme, to talk of hands, Lest we remember still that we have none. Fie, fie, how franticly I square my talk, As if we should forget we had no hands, If Marcus did not name the word of hands! Come, let's fall to; and, gentle girl, eat this: Here is no drink! Hark, Marcus, what she says; I can interpret all her martyr'd signs; She says she drinks no other drink but tears, Brew'd with her sorrow, mesh'd upon her cheeks: Speechless complainer, I will learn thy thought; In thy dumb action will I be as perfect As begging hermits in their holy prayers: Thou shalt not sigh, nor hold thy stumps to heaven, Nor wink, nor nod, nor kneel, nor make a sign, But I of these will wrest an alphabet And by still practise learn to know thy meaning.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Oh! Has sorrow already made you mad? Why, Marcus, no man should be mad but me. What violent hands can she lay on her life? Why do you use the word “hands?” That’s like asking Aeneas to tell the story again of how Troy was burnt and he lost everything. Oh, don’t say anything about hands, lest we remember that we don’t have any. Ha, but I’m talking foolishly—as if we could forget we have no hands, just because Marcus didn’t mention it! Come, let’s eat. And gentle girl, eat this—what, you won’t drink? Hear what she says, Marcus; I can interpret all her signs. She says she’ll drink nothing but the tears on her cheeks, brewed with her sorrow.

[To LAVINIA] Speechless victim, I will learn your thoughts; your silent actions will be as clear in meaning to me as the prayers of hermits. You won’t sigh, or hold your stumps to heaven, or wink, or nod, or kneel, or make a sign without me understanding you: I’ll make an alphabet of these actions, and I’ll learn to know what you mean.

YOUNG LUCIUS

Good grandsire, leave these bitter deep laments:Make my aunt merry with some pleasing tale.

YOUNG LUCIUS

Good grandfather, stop this bitter sadness; make my aunt laugh with some pleasing story.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Alas, the tender boy, in passion moved,Doth weep to see his grandsire's heaviness.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Oh, the sweet boy, moved by compassion, cries to see his grandfather’s grief.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Peace, tender sapling; thou art made of tears,And tears will quickly melt thy life away.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Calm down, innocent boy; you are made of tears, and tears will melt away your life.

MARCUS strikes the dish with a knife

TITUS ANDRONICUS

What dost thou strike at, Marcus, with thy knife?

TITUS ANDRONICUS

What do you strike at with your knife, Marcus?

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

At that that I have kill'd, my lord; a fly.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

I struck at a fly, my lord, which I killed.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Out on thee, murderer! thou kill'st my heart; Mine eyes are cloy'd with view of tyranny: A deed of death done on the innocent Becomes not Titus' brother: get thee gone: I see thou art not for my company.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Get out, murderer! You kill my heart; my eyes are filled with tears at seeing this cruelty. The murder of the innocent doesn’t become Titus’s brother; get out, since I see you aren’t fit for my company.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Alas, my lord, I have but kill'd a fly.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

My lord, I've only killed a fly.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

But how, if that fly had a father and mother? How would he hang his slender gilded wings, And buzz lamenting doings in the air! Poor harmless fly, That, with his pretty buzzing melody, Came here to make us merry! and thou hast kill'd him.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

But what if that fly had a father and mother? He would fly on his slender golden wings, buzzing sad songs in the air! Poor harmless fly, that, with his pretty buzzing song, came here to make us happy! And you have killed him.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Pardon me, sir; it was a black ill-favor'd fly,Like to the empress' Moor; therefore I kill'd him.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Forgive me, sir; it was a black ugly fly that looked like the empress’s Moor, which was why I killed him.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

O, O, O, Then pardon me for reprehending thee, For thou hast done a charitable deed. Give me thy knife, I will insult on him; Flattering myself, as if it were the Moor Come hither purposely to poison me.— There's for thyself, and that's for Tamora. Ah, sirrah! Yet, I think, we are not brought so low, But that between us we can kill a fly That comes in likeness of a coal-black Moor.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Oh, oh, oh, then forgive me for attaching you, for you’ve done a good deed. Give me your knife, and I’ll butcher him, pretending it’s the Moor come here to poison me. [Stabs the fly.] Here’s for you, and that’s for Tamora. Ah, bastard! At least we’re not so low; between us we can still kill a fly that looks like a coal-black Moor.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Alas, poor man! grief has so wrought on him,He takes false shadows for true substances.

MARCUS ANDRONICUS

Oh, poor man! He is so grief-stricken that he imagines shadows are the real thing.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Come, take away. Lavinia, go with me: I'll to thy closet; and go read with thee Sad stories chanced in the times of old. Come, boy, and go with me: thy sight is young, And thou shalt read when mine begin to dazzle.

TITUS ANDRONICUS

Come, let’s go. Lavinia, come with me; I’ll go to your room and read sad stories of old times with you.

[To LUCIUS] Come with me, too, boy; your young eyes can read when my own begin to fade.

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.