Macbeth Book Cover

 

Macbeth: A Verse Translation

ISBN: 0-9752743-1-7

ISBN-13: 978-0-9752743-1-6

160 pages

 

 

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Enjoy Shakespeare in beautiful verse translations

 

Enjoy Shakespeare with Sir Toby, Feste, and Sir Andrew

 

 

 

Macbeth: A Verse Translation

Excerpt

 

This excerpt from Act One shows how carefully the ENJOY SHAKESPEARE translations recreate all of Shakespeare's effects. In these scenes, Shakespeare used rhyming chants, blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter), and bits of prose. This translation respects Shakespeare's choices and preserves the structure of each line.

 

 


from Act One

 

Scene One. An Open Place Outdoors

[Thunder and lightning. Enter three WITCHES]

FIRST WITCH

When shall we three meet again?

In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

SECOND WITCH

When the hurly-burly’s done,

When the battle’s lost and won.

THIRD WITCH

Before the setting of the sun.

FIRST WITCH

Where’s the place?

SECOND WITCH

Out on the heath.

THIRD WITCH

It’s there we meet Macbeth.

FIRST WITCH

The gray cat calls!

SECOND WITCH

I hear the toad.

THIRD WITCH

It’s time.

ALL THREE

Fair is foul, and foul is fair.

Hover in the fog and filthy air.

[Exit WITCHES]

 

Scene Two. A Camp

[A trumpet call is heard. Enter DUNCAN, MALCOLM, DONALBAIN, LENNOX, with ATTENDANTS, meeting a bleeding CAPTAIN]

DUNCAN (King of Scotland)

Who is this bloody man? Perhaps he can,

This scene

uses blank verse

To judge from his condition, give us news

On this revolt.

MALCOLM (Duncan’s Son)

                          This is the officer

Who, as all good and hardy soldiers do,

Fought off my captors—Hail, brave friend!

Share with the king your knowledge of the battle

Up to the time you left.

CAPTAIN (serving in Duncan’s army)

                                         Uncertain.…

Like worn-out swimmers who discard their skills

And choke each other. Merciless Macdonald—

Well-suited for revolt and swarming with

The multiplying evils spawned by nature—

From Scotland’s Western Isles had received

Ax-wielding horseman and light infantry,

And fortune, like a rebel’s whore, smiled on

His hateful cause. But he was still too weak,

For brave Macbeth—a label much deserved—

Disdaining fortune’s smile, with brandished steel,

Now steaming from its bloody enterprise

Like valor’s favorite child…carved out a passage

Till he faced the villain…

And never shook his hand or bid farewell,

Till he had ripped a seam from chin to navel,

And stuck his head on top our battlements.

DUNCAN

O valiant kinsman! Worthy gentleman!

CAPTAIN

From where the suns begins its northward climb

Shipwrecking storms and dreadful thunder come,

And from the spring that seemed to offer hope,

Despair wells up. So heed this, King of Scotland:

The moment justice, armed with valor, made

The light-armed Celts turn on their heels and run,

The King of Norway, seeing an advantage,

With polished arms and new supplies of men,

Began a fresh assault.

DUNCAN

And did our generals panic, Macbeth and Banquo?

CAPTAIN

Yes....If sparrows scare hawks or rabbits lions.

If I speak truly, I can say they were

Like cannons loaded with a double charge,

First doubling, then redoubling strokes upon their foes—

If they desired to bathe in smoldering wounds,

Or make the field as famed as Calvary

I cannot tell—

But I am faint. My gashes cry for help.

DUNCAN

These words you speak adorn your wounds so well

Both taste of honor.—Go and get him surgeons.

[Exit CAPTAIN, helped out by attendants]

Who’s coming now?

MALCOLM

                                   The worthy Thane of Ross.

 

LENNOX (a Nobleman of Scotland)

What haste shows through his eyes! As one might look

Who’s come to say strange things.

[Enter ROSS]

ROSS (a Nobleman of Scotland)

                                                         God save the King!

DUNCAN

Where have you come from, worthy thane?

ROSS

                                                                      From Fife,

Great king, where Norway’s banners mock the sky

And fan our people cold.

There Norway’s King, with terrifying numbers,

Assisted by the most disloyal of traitors,

The Thane of Cawdor, began an ominous onslaught

Until the warrior goddess sent her man

In tested armor and with equal skill

To face him, spear to spear and arm to arm,

Curbing his reckless spirit. And, to conclude,

The victory went to us.

DUNCAN

                                        Great happiness!

ROSS

Now Sweno, Norway’s king, has asked for terms.

We won’t allow the burial of his men

Until he’s paid to us at Inchcolm Island

Ten thousand silver coins for public use.

DUNCAN

The Thane of Cawdor won’t betray again

My deepest trust.—Immediate death for him,

And use his title when you greet Macbeth.

ROSS

I’ll see it’s done.

DUNCAN

What he has lost, noble Macbeth has won.

[Exit]

 

Scene Three. A Heath

[Thunder. Enter the three WITCHES]

FIRST WITCH

Where have you been, sister?

SECOND WITCH

Killing pigs.

THIRD WITCH

Sister, where were you?

FIRST WITCH

A sailor’s wife had chestnuts in her lap,

And munched, and munched, and munched—“They’re mine,” says I.

“Away, you witch!” the flab-fed floozy cries.

Aleppo’s where her husband’s gone, captain of the Tiger,

But in a sieve that’s how I’ll sail,

And be a rat without a tail,

And get him, get him, get him.

SECOND WITCH

I’ll make you a breeze.

FIRST WITCH

If you please.

THIRD WITCH

And I one from the west.

FIRST WITCH

While I myself control the rest,

And from the ports themselves they’ll blow

All the compass points they know

On the seaman’s charts.

He shall live a man who’s cursed,

His hanging tongue will truly thirst

For I will drain him dry as hay,

No sleep for him night or day.

Weary sixty nights times nine,

He will dwindle, waste, and pine.

No, his vessel won’t be lost,

But it will be tempest-tossed.

Look what I have.

SECOND WITCH

Show me, show me.

FIRST WITCH

Here’s a shipwrecked pilot’s thumb,

Floating homeward in the scum.

[A drum is heard]

THIRD WITCH

A drum, a drum!

Macbeth has come.

ALL

[dancing in a circle] We weird sisters, hand in hand,

Race across the sea and land,

This is how we get about.

Three times yours, and three times mine,

And three again, to make it nine.

Peace, the spell’s all set.

[Enter MACBETH and BANQUO]

MACBETH (a General in King Duncan’s army)

A day this fair and foul I have not seen.

BANQUO (a General in King Duncan’s army)

How far is Forres from here?—What are these,

Too withered and too wild in their attire

To be inhabiting this earth and yet

They’re here?—[to the Witches] Are you alive? Or things with which

I can converse? You seem to understand me,

For all at once you placed a shriveled finger

Upon your skinny lips. You must be women,

And yet your beards do not let me conclude

That you are so.

MACBETH

                            Speak, if you can. What are you?

FIRST WITCH

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!

SECOND WITCH

All hail, Macbeth! Hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!

THIRD WITCH

All hail, Macbeth! Who is the king to be!

BANQUO

Good sir, why did you flinch and seem to fear

These things that sound so good?—[to the Witches] I need the truth—

Are you imaginary, or just what

You seem to be? You greet my noble partner

By current rank and with such great predictions

Of noble titles gained and royal hopes,

That he’s entranced.—To me you do not speak.

If you can look into the seeds of time,

And say which grain will grow and which will not,

Then speak to one who does not ask for favors

And does not fear your hate.

FIRST WITCH

Hail!

SECOND WITCH

Hail!

THIRD WITCH

Hail!

FIRST WITCH

Lesser than Macbeth, and greater.

SECOND WITCH

Not so well-off, yet better off.

THIRD WITCH

You will spawn kings, yet not be one.

So all hail, Macbeth and Banquo!

FIRST WITCH

Banquo and Macbeth, all hail!

MACBETH

Your story is not clear yet. Tell me more.

My father’s death makes me the Thane of Glamis—

But Cawdor? The Thane of Cawdor is alive,

A prosperous gentleman, and to be king

Lies far outside the limits of belief,

More so than even Cawdor. Give a source

For your strange information, or state why

You blocked our path across this barren heath

With such prophetic greetings?—Speak, I say.

[the WITCHES vanish]

BANQUO

The earth has bubbles, just as water does,

And that’s what these must be. Where did they go?

MACBETH

Into the air, and what seemed solid vanished

Like breath into the wind.—I wish they’d stayed!

BANQUO

Were these things we’re discussing really here?

Or did some root we ate make us insane

And take our reason prisoner?

MACBETH

Your children will be kings.

BANQUO

You will be king.

MACBETH

And how’d it go? The Thane of Cawdor too?

BANQUO

That is the tune and words I heard. Who’s this?

[Enter ROSS and ANGUS]

ROSS

The king, Macbeth, has happily received

The news of your success, and when he sees

The risks you took in fighting the rebellion,

His admiration and astonishment

Compete for words.And silenced by all that,

Reviewing other news from that same day,

He knows you faced the brave Norwegian line,

Not fearing for yourself what they’d become—

Strange, deathly likenesses. As thick as hail

Came message after message, pouring praise

Around him, telling how your great defense

Preserved his kingdom.

ANGUS (a Nobleman of Scotland)

                                         And so we are here

To give to you our royal master’s thanks,

Though not to pay you now, but summon you

To see him.

ROSS

And as a promise of much greater honors,

He’s ordered me to call you Thane of Cawdor,

And hail you with that title, worthy thane,

For it is yours.

BANQUO

                        Can devils speak the truth?

MACBETH

The Thane of Cawdor lives. Why dress me up

In borrowed robes?

ANGUS

                                  The former Thane still lives,

But now that life, which he deserves to lose,

Received a heavy sentence. Whether he

Conspired with Norway, backed the rebel up

With hidden reinforcements, or did both

To seek to wreck his country, I don’t know.

But treason’s verdict—death—confessed and proved,

Has toppled him.

MACBETH

[aside] Glamis, and Thane of Cawdor.

The greatest is to come. [to Ross and Angus]—Thanks for your pains.—

[privately to Banquo] Now don’t you hope your children will be kings,

When those who said they’d make me Thane of Cawdor

Promised no less to them.

BANQUO

                                             Full trust in that

May well ignite your hopes of being king,

Besides the Thane of Cawdor. But it’s strange—

That oftentimes to lure us into harm,

The instruments of darkness tell us truths,

Lure us with trivial facts, betraying us

When consequences matter most.—

Cousins, a word with you please.

[BANQUO, ROSS, and ANGUS step aside]

MACBETH

                                                      [aside] Two truths are told,

Both lucky prologues as the drama builds

On this imperial theme. [to the others]—I thank you, gentlemen.—

[aside] This supernatural effort to entice

Cannot be evil, can’t be good. If evil,

Why has it brought this promise of reward,

Commencing with a truth? I am Thane of Cawdor.

If good, why do I yield to this temptation

Whose hideous image stands my hair on end,

And makes my once-firm heart knock on my ribs

In this unnatural way? The fears at hand

Are less than any horror we imagine.

My thoughts, where murder’s still no more than fantasy,

Shake loose my fragile hold so much

That functioning is swamped by speculation.

And nothing is—except what isn’t yet.

BANQUO

Our partner seems entranced.

MACBETH

[aside] If chance says I’ll be king, then chance can crown me

Without my efforts.

BANQUO

                                  He’s trying on new honors,

Which like new clothes, won’t stretch to our physique

Unless we put them on.

MACBETH

                                         [aside] Then come what may,

For time keeps running through the roughest day.

BANQUO

Worthy Macbeth, we’ll leave when you are ready.

MACBETH

Indulge me just a bit. Forgotten things

Are stirring this dull brain. Kind gentlemen,

The pains you took are now recorded where

I’ll read them everyday—Now to the king.—

[to Banquo] Reflect on what’s occurred. When there’s been time

To weigh it in the interim, let our hearts

Speak freely to each other.

BANQUO

                                              Very gladly.

MACBETH

Till then, enough.—Come, friends.

[Exit]

© 2008 by Kent Richmond

 

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