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Twelfth Night

Twelfth Night Translation Act 1, Scene 2

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Enter VIOLA, a CAPTAIN, and sailors

VIOLA

What country, friends, is this?

VIOLA

What country is this, friends?

CAPTAIN

This is Illyria, lady.

CAPTAIN

This is Illyria, my lady.

VIOLA

And what should I do in Illyria? My brother he is in Elysium. Perchance he is not drown’d.—What think you, sailors?

VIOLA

And what should I do in Illyria? My brother is in Heaven. Or perhaps there's a chance he didn't drown. What do you think, sailors?

CAPTAIN

It is perchance that you yourself were saved.

CAPTAIN

It was only by chance that you yourself were saved.

VIOLA

O, my poor brother! And so perchance may he be.

VIOLA

Oh, my poor brother! But maybe he has been saved by chance too.

CAPTAIN

True, madam. And, to comfort you with chance, Assure yourself, after our ship did split, When you and those poor number saved with you Hung on our driving boat, I saw your brother, Most provident in peril, bind himself, Courage and hope both teaching him the practice, To a strong mast that lived upon the sea, Where, like Arion on the dolphin’s back, I saw him hold acquaintance with the waves So long as I could see.

CAPTAIN

True, madam. And let me comfort you: when our ship was wrecked, and you and the few other survivors hung onto our drifting lifeboat, I saw your brother tie himself to the mast that was floating on the waves—acting with courage and hope in the middle of great danger. For as long as I could see him, he safely rode upon the waves like Arion on the dolphin's back.

VIOLA

[giving him money] For saying so, there’s gold. Mine own escape unfoldeth to my hope, Whereto thy speech serves for authority, The like of him. Know’st thou this country?

VIOLA

[Giving him money] Here's some gold to thank you for telling me this. My own escape gives me hope for my brother, and what you've told me now gives me even more reason to hope. Do you know this country?

CAPTAIN

Ay, madam, well, for I was bred and bornNot three hours' travel from this very place.

CAPTAIN

Yes, madam, I was born and raised less than three hours' travel from here.

VIOLA

Who governs here?

VIOLA

Who rules here?

CAPTAIN

A noble duke, in natureAs in name.

CAPTAIN

A duke who is as noble in his character as he is in his rank.

VIOLA

What is his name?

VIOLA

What is his name?

CAPTAIN

Orsino.

CAPTAIN

Orsino.

VIOLA

Orsino. I have heard my father name him. He was a bachelor then.

VIOLA

Orsino—I have heard my father mention him. He was a bachelor back then.

CAPTAIN

And so is now, or was so very late. For but a month ago I went from hence, And then ’twas fresh in murmur —as, you know, What great ones do the less will prattle of— That he did seek the love of fair Olivia.

CAPTAIN

And he still is, or was very recently at least. I only left here a month ago, and at that time there was a popular rumor—as, you know, people gossip about the nobility—that he was courting the fair Olivia.

VIOLA

What’s she?

VIOLA

Who's she?

CAPTAIN

A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count That died some twelvemonth since, then leaving her In the protection of his son, her brother, Who shortly also died, for whose dear love, They say, she hath abjured the company And sight of men.

CAPTAIN

A virtuous young woman, the daughter of a count who died a year ago. He left her in the care of his son, Olivia's brother, but the brother died soon after. They say that out of love for her brother, Olivia has stopped interacting with men altogether.

VIOLA

Oh, that I served that lady And might not be delivered to the world, Till I had made mine own occasion mellow, What my estate is.

VIOLA

Oh, I wish that I could serve that lady—then I wouldn't have to reveal myself to the world until I was ready to identify my place in society.

CAPTAIN

That were hard to compass,Because she will admit no kind of suit,No, not the duke’s.

CAPTAIN

That would be hard to bring about, because she won't allow anyone in to see her, not even the duke's men.

VIOLA

There is a fair behavior in thee, captain, And though that nature with a beauteous wall Doth oft close in pollution, yet of thee I will believe thou hast a mind that suits With this thy fair and outward character. I prithee—and I’ll pay thee bounteously— Conceal me what I am, and be my aid For such disguise as haply shall become The form of my intent . I’ll serve this duke. Thou shall present me as an eunuch to him. It may be worth thy pains, for I can sing And speak to him in many sorts of music That will allow me very worth his service. What else may hap to time I will commit. Only shape thou thy silence to my wit.

VIOLA

You seem to be a good man in both behavior and appearance, captain, and even though nature often makes beautiful people corrupt on the inside, I believe that you have a noble mind to fit your good looks and manners. Please—and I'll pay you well for this—help me conceal my identity, and find me the disguise that will suit my intentions. I want to serve this duke. You will present me to him as a eunuch. It will be worth your trouble, for I can sing and speak well, and he will surely consider me for his service. What might happen after that, only time will tell. You must only match my wit with your silence and discretion.

CAPTAIN

Be you his eunuch, and your mute I’ll be.When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.

CAPTAIN

You will be his eunuch, and I will be your mute attendant. If I tell your secret, may I lose my sight.

VIOLA

I thank thee. Lead me on.

VIOLA

I thank you. Lead me on.

Exeunt

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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.