Hamlet: A Verse Translation


Hamlet: A Verse Translation

ISBN-13: 9780983637929

Full Measure Press


Hamlet: A Verse Translation


My verse translation matches Shakespeare's play line-by-line with the same syntactic complexity and vocabulary range as the original. All blank verse lines remain in verse with accurate and authentic iambic pentameter.


Play Statistics

  Unique words in Shakespeare's original: 4,667

  Unique words in Richmond's translation: 4,749



  from Act One, Scene Five



My soul sensed something wrong. My uncle?


Yes, that incestuous, that adulterous beast,

With witching intellect, with treasonous gifts—

O, wickedness and gifts, what power to

Seduce they have!—now has my queen, who seemed

So virtuous, thirsting for his shameful lust.

O Hamlet, what a falling-off this was!

To sink from me—whose love had so much worth

As it walked hand-in-hand beside the vows,

The very ones, I made to her in marriage—

Down to a wretch whose natural gifts cannot

Match up to mine!

But just as virtue's never moved when lust

Comes courting dressed in heavenly attire,

Lust, though some radiant angel joins with it,

Will lose its taste for its celestial bed

And feed on entrails.

But wait! Is that the morning air I sense?

I'll hurry. I was napping in my garden—

My usual routine every afternoon

When I relax. In slipped your uncle with

A vial of toxic henbane9 juice which he

Then poured into the pockets of my ears,

A concentrate that's so corrosive to

The blood of man that it will rush as swift

As mercury, spreading its leprous scourge

Through natural gates and alleys in our body,

And, instantly effective, it will cause

Our fluid, wholesome blood, like sour milk,

To thicken and to curdle. That it did,

And instantly a scab, a layer of bark,

A leprosy, a vile and loathsome crust

Replaced my once smooth skin.

That's it. While sleeping, by a brother's hand,

Deprived, like that, of life, of crown, of queen,

Lopped off just as my sins had reached full bloom,

With no communion, no anointing oil,

Nothing absolved, no settling of accounts,

No restitution paid for all my faults.

O, horrible! O, horrible! Too horrible!

If you have natural feeling, don't accept this.

Don't let the royal bed of Denmark be

A couch for lustfulness and cursèd incest.

But in whatever way you now proceed,

Keep your mind clean, plot nothing in your soul

That does your mother harm. Leave her to heaven

And let it be the thorns lodged in her bosom

That prick and sting her. I must leave at once!

The glowworm says that morning must be near

As light begins to make its fire useless.

Adieu, adieu! Hamlet, remember me.

[The GHOST disappears]


O, all of heaven's angels! The earth! What else?

Should I add hell? Outrageous!—Hold up, heart,

And you, these muscles, don't grow old on me

But make me tall and firm.—Remember you!

Yes, you poor ghost, while memory holds a seat

In this disordered globe. Remember you!

Yes, from the tablet in my memory

I'll wipe away all trivial, foolish notes,

All past impressions, quotes from books, all thoughts

Observed and copied down there during youth,

And your command to me shall live alone

Within the book and volume of my brain,

Unmixed with lesser matter. Yes, by heaven!

O such a vicious woman!

O villain, villain, smiling, cursèd villain!

My tablet—fitting that I write it down,

That one may smile and smile and be a villain.

At least, I'm sure, it's like that in our king. [writing]

So, uncle, there you are. As for my motto,

It is “Adieu, adieu! Remember me.”

I've sworn it.



9 It's not clear what poison Shakespeare's word hebenon refers to. [return to the play]

© 2012 by Kent Richmond