Shakespeare Translation Project
I am translating Shakespeare's major dramatic works into more modern English. These line-by-line translations preserve the complexity of the original and conform to the metrical conventions that Shakespeare favored when he wrote the play. My goal is to preserve as much as possible the metrical form, rhyme, and syntactical complexity of the original. I employ an entirely authentic iambic pentameter.
I began the project after reading an article by linguist John McWhorter in the late 1990's. The article "The Real Shakespearean Tragedy" was later revised and reprinted in the January 2010 issue of American Theater Magazine. McWhorter demonstrates how easily we misunderstand Shakespeare and calls for serious translations that maintain the literary qualities of the original. The revised article praises Kent Richmond's Shakespeare Translation Project.
- Macbeth Excerpt
Excerpt from Macbeth
Act 2, Scene 2
(Macbeth and Lady Macbeth meet after Macbeth commits murder.)
Scene Two. Inside Macbeth’s Castle
[Enter LADY MACBETH]
That which has made them drunk has made me bold.
What’s doused their flame has brought me fire.—What?—Nothing!
An owl just screeched, the bell for the condemned,
The harshest of good nights. He’s doing it.
The doors are open, and the stuffed attendants
Scoff at their job with snores. I’ve drugged their nightcaps,
So nature’s forces battle here to see
If they will live or die.
[MACBETH enters through the open door]
[from beyond the door] Who’s there?—What’s that?
Oh, no! I am afraid they’ve woken up
And it’s not done. Attempt without the deed
Will wreck us.—Listen!—I laid out their daggers.
He couldn’t miss them.—Had he not resembled
My father as he slept, I would have done it.
[Enter MACBETH, holding bloody daggers]
I’ve done the deed. Did you hear any noise?
I heard the owl screech and the crickets cry.
You did not speak?
As I descended?
Wait!—The next room, who’s in it?
[Looking at his hands] This is a sorry sight.
A foolish thought, to say a sorry sight.
First one laughed in his sleep, and one cried, “Murder!”
Enough to wake each other. I froze and listened,
But then they said their prayers and settled down
And fell asleep.
The two share the same room.
One cried, “God bless us!” The other said, “Amen.”
As if they’d seen me with these hangman’s hands.
Hearing their fear, I could not say “Amen,”
When they had said, “God bless us.”
Don’t think too deeply.
But why could I not say the word “Amen?”
I need his blessing most, and yet “Amen”
Stuck in my throat.
We must not think about
These deeds this way, or it will drive us mad.
It seemed I heard a voice cry, “Sleep no more!
Macbeth has murdered sleep,”—yes, innocent sleep,
Sleep that rewinds unraveled threads of care,
The death of each day’s life, hard work’s warm bath,
Salve for hurt minds, and nature’s biggest course,
Chief nourishment in life’s feast.
What do you mean?
Still it cried, “Sleep no more!” to all the house.
“Glamis has murdered sleep, and therefore Cawdor
Shall sleep no more. Macbeth shall sleep no more!”
Much Ado About Nothing