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Act 2, Scene 4


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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter ROSS with an OLD MAN

ROSS and an OLD MAN enter.




OLD MAN
Threescore and ten I can remember well,
Within the volume of which time I have seen
Hours dreadful and things strange, but this sore night
Hath trifled former knowings.

OLD MAN
I remember the past seventy years. In that time I've seen some strange and dreadful things. But what I saw last night made everything I've seen before seem like nothing.

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5
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10

ROSS
Ha, good father,
Thou seest the heavens, as troubled with man's act,
Threatens his bloody stage. By th' clock 'tis day,
And yet dark night strangles the travelling lamp.
Is 't night's predominance or the day's shame
That darkness does the face of Earth entomb
When living light should kiss it?

ROSS
Yes, old man. The skies, troubled by the acts of men, threaten the bloody earth with storms. According to a clock it's daytime, yet dark night continues to strangle the sun. Is darkness covering the Earth when it's supposed to be light because the night is so powerful or because the day is ashamed to show itself?

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OLD MAN
'Tis unnatural,
Even like the deed that's done. On Tuesday last,
A falcon, tow'ring in her pride of place,
Was by a mousing owl hawked at and killed.

OLD MAN
It's unnatural, as is the murder that was committed. Last Tuesday, as a falcon soared in its rightful place high in the sky, it was attacked and killed by an owl whose normal prey are mice.

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15

ROSS
And Duncan's horses—a thing most strange and certain—
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turned wild in nature, broke their stalls, flung out,
Contending 'gainst obedience, as they would
Make war with mankind.

ROSS
Also, and this is just as strange, Duncan's beautiful and fast horses, the best of their breed, went wild and broke out of their stalls. They refused all to be calmed, and acted as if they were at war with mankind.

OLD MAN
'Tis said they eat each other.

OLD MAN
It's said that the horses ate each other.

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20

ROSS
They did so, to th' amazement of mine eyes
That looked upon 't. Here comes the good Macduff.

ROSS
They did. I witnessed it, and was astonished. Here comes the good Macduff.

Enter MACDUFF

MACDUFF enters

How goes the world, sir, now?

How are things going, sir?

MACDUFF
Why, see you not?

MACDUFF
Can't you see?

ROSS
Is 't known who did this more than bloody deed?

ROSS
Is it known who committed this bloody crime?

MACDUFF
Those that Macbeth hath slain.

MACDUFF
The servants that Macbeth killed.


ROSS
Alas, the day!
What good could they pretend?

ROSS
Oh, what a terrible thing! What could they have hoped to gain?

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MACDUFF
They were suborned.
Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons,
Are stol'n away and fled, which puts upon them
Suspicion of the deed.

MACDUFF
They were bribed. Malcolm and Donalbain, the king's two sons, have snuck off and fled, which makes them the main suspects.

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30

ROSS
'Gainst nature still!
Thriftless ambition, that will raven up
Thine own lives' means! Then 'tis most like
The sovereignty will fall upon Macbeth.

ROSS
Even more unnatural! What a wasteful ambition that would cause a cause sons to kill the very thing that gave them life! Then it seems most likely that Macbeth will become king.


MACDUFF
He is already named and gone to Scone
To be invested.

MACDUFF
He's already been named king and has left for Scone for the coronation.

ROSS
Where is Duncan's body?

ROSS
Where is Duncan's body?

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35

MACDUFF
Carried to Colmekill,
The sacred storehouse of his predecessors,
And guardian of their bones.

MACDUFF
It's been carried to Colmekill, the sacred burial place for all Scottish kings, and the guardian of their bones.

ROSS
Will you to Scone?

ROSS
Will you now head to Scone?

MACDUFF
No, cousin, I'll to Fife.

MACDUFF
No, cousin, I'm going to my home in Fife.

ROSS
Well, I will thither.

ROSS
Well, I'll go to Scone.

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40

MACDUFF
Well, may you see things well done there. Adieu,
Lest our old robes sit easier than our new!

MACDUFF
May the ceremony there go well. Good-bye! Here's hoping that our new king is as suited to the role as our old king was.

ROSS
Farewell, father.

ROSS
Farewell, old man.

OLD MAN
God's benison go with you and with those
That would make good of bad and friends of foes.

OLD MAN
God's blessing on you, and on all who make good things out of bad, and turn enemies into friends!

Exeunt

All exit.

 

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