Act 1, Scene 2, Twelfth Night, Translation: Shakespeare

Unveiling a dynamic solution to unravel Shakespeare's intricate language: our interactive modern translation of Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 2. Click on any line in the original text, and watch its contemporary translation illuminate, seamlessly connecting the past with the present. By fusing the classic with the current, we usher accessibility and clarity into Shakespeare's timeless creation, catering to the understanding of today's readers.

SCENE II. The sea-coast.
Enter VIOLA, a Captain, and Sailors
VIOLA
What country, friends, is this?
Captain
This is Illyria, 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?
Captain
It is perchance that you yourself were saved.
VIOLA
O my poor brother! and so perchance may he be.
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 practise,
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.

SCENE II. The sea-coast.
Enter VIOLA, a Captain, and Sailors
VIOLA
What country is this, friends?
Captain
This is Illyria, lady.
VIOLA
And why should I be in Illyria?
My brother is in Elysium.
Perhaps he hasn't drowned. What do you think, sailors?
Captain
It's possible that you yourself were saved.
VIOLA
Oh, my poor brother! And perhaps he might be too.
Captain
Indeed, madam. To give you some comfort through chance,
Be assured, after our ship broke apart,
When you and the few others saved with you
Clung to our drifting lifeboat, I saw your brother,
Very careful even in danger, securing himself,
With both courage and hope guiding him in the act,
To a sturdy mast that was floating on the sea;
Where, just like Arion riding on a dolphin's back,
I saw him becoming familiar with the waves
For as long as I could see.

VIOLA
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?
Captain
Ay, madam, well; for I was bred and born
Not three hours' travel from this very place.
VIOLA
Who governs here?
Captain
A noble duke, in nature as in name.

VIOLA
If you're telling the truth, I'll reward you with gold:
My own escape gives hope to my heart,
And your words lend authority to it,
Similar to him. Do you know this land?
Captain
Yes, madam, very well; because I was raised and born
Not three hours' travel from this very spot.
VIOLA
Who rules here?
Captain
A noble duke, both in character and name.

VIOLA
What is the name?
Captain
Orsino.
VIOLA
Orsino! I have heard my father name him:
He was a bachelor 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.

VIOLA
What is the name?
Captain
Orsino.
VIOLA
Orsino! I've heard my father mention him:
He was single back then.
Captain
And he is single now, or was very recently;
Just a month ago, I left this place,
And it was being freshly gossiped about, as you know,
What great ones do the less will ramble on,--
That he was pursuing the affection of the fair Olivia.

VIOLA
What'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.
VIOLA
O 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
Who is she?
Captain
A virtuous maid, the daughter of a count
Who died about a year ago, leaving her
In the care of her brother,
Who also died shortly after:
They say she has sworn off the company
And sight of men.
VIOLA
Oh, if only I served that lady
And could remain hidden from the world
Until I had matured my own situation,
What my circumstances are!

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

Captain
That would be difficult to achieve;
Because she will not entertain any suitors,
No, not even the duke's.
VIOLA
There is an honorable demeanor in you, captain;
And although human nature, with its attractive exterior,
Is often a cover for impurities, yet in your case,
I will believe that your inner thoughts align
With your fair and outward character.
I beseech you, and I'll reward you generously,
Keep secret who I am, and assist me
In creating a disguise that may suitably reflect
The purpose I have in mind. I intend to serve this duke:
You shall present me to him as a eunuch:
It may be worth your effort; for I can sing
And speak to him in various forms of music
That will demonstrate my high value to his service.
As for whatever else may happen over time, I will entrust;
Just adapt your silence to my ingenuity.

Captain
Be you his eunuch, and your mute I'll be:
When my tongue blabs, then let mine eyes not see.
VIOLA
I thank thee: lead me on.
Exeunt

Captain
You will be his eunuch, and I'll be your silent partner:
When my tongue reveals a secret, then let my eyes remain blind.
VIOLA
I thank you: guide me forward.
They exit.

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