Twelfth Night: A Verse Translation


My verse translation of Twelfth Night has the same sentence complexity and a similar vocabulary range as Shakespeare's original. All blank verse lines remain in verse with accurate and authentic iambic pentameter. Songs and rhymes are translated but maintain the same rhythm and rhyme patterns.


Play Statistics

  Unique words in Shakespeare's original: 3,045

  Unique words in Richmond's translation: 3,343



from Act Two


As in Shakespeare's original, the scene starts in prose. Viola (disguised as a man) uses blank verse in her "I left no ring with her" soliloquy. She ends with a couplet to close the scene.


Scene Two. A Street

[Enter VIOLA, with MALVOLIO following]


Were you not just now with the Countess Olivia?

VIOLA (masquerading as Cesario)

I just left, sir. My moderate pace has only brought me this far.


She returns this ring to you, sir. You might have saved me the bother had you taken it away yourself. She adds, moreover, that you should give your lord her most certain guarantee that she will have none of him. And one thing more, that you never be so bold as to come again as his agent, unless it is to report your lord’s acceptance of her decision. Take the ring knowing this.


She took the ring from me. I do not want it.


Come, sir, you childishly threw it to her, and her wish is to return it the same way [tosses the ring on the ground]. If it is worth stooping for, there it lies in plain sight. If not, it is his who finds it.



I left no ring with her. What could she mean?

Heaven forbid that my disguise enthralled her!

She gazed at me so deeply, that indeed

It seemed her eyes had overwhelmed her tongue,

For then she spoke in rambling fits and starts.

She loves me, surely. And her cunning passion,

Through this rude envoy, lures me to return.

Refuse my lord’s ring? But he sent no ring.

So I’m the one. If this is as it looks,

Poor lady, better that she love a dream.

Disguise, I see you are a wickedness,

In which a scheming, ready imp does much.

How easy it is for false, handsome men

To stamp their image into waxen hearts!

Our frailty’s the cause, and not our souls!

For what we’re made of, that is what controls.

How will this work? My master loves her dearly,

And I, poor monster, fix as much on him

As she, deceived, appears to dote on me.

What will become of this? If I’m a man,

I cannot hope to win my master’s love.

If I’m a woman—oh, an awful mess!—

What fruitless sighs will poor Olivia breathe!

O time, you must unravel this, not I;

For now this knot’s too tangled to untie!



© 2004 by Kent Richmond