Hamlet: A Verse Translation Book Cover


Hamlet: A Verse Translation

ISBN-13 9780983637929
Full Measure Press


Hamlet: A Verse Translation

ISBN-13 9780983637929
Full Measure Press


Hamlet and Ophelia

Hamlet and Ophelia


With his translation of Hamlet, Kent Richmond provides another of his sly reworkings of the language of a Shakespeare play. To keep the feel of Shakespeare, he uses blank verse, prose, rhyme, or song whenever Shakespeare does. The language is more modern without seeming anachronistic, and the size of the vocabulary matches Shakespeare’s original. You will soon forget that you are reading a translation. [read an excerpt]


Number of Unique Words

Shakespeare's original: 4,667

Richmond's translation: 4,749


To see how close the translation keeps to the structure of the original, take a look at this translation of Hamlet's famous soliloquy from Act 3. The word count is almost the same as the original, and every line is iambic pentameter. The sentences are as complex, yet the language becomes more comprehensible for today’s readers and theatergoers.

Translation of Hamlet's Soliloquy

From Act 3, Scene 1



To be or not to be—that is the question:

Compare it with


Original Soliloquy

Whether it's nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles

And by resisting end them. To die...to sleep—

That's all it is—and if by sleep we end

The heartache and the thousand natural shocks

That flesh is heir to—it's a termination

Devoutly to be wished for. To die, to sleep—

To sleep, perhaps to dream. Yes, that's the snag,

For in that sleep of death, the dreams that come,

When we have slipped free from this mortal net,

Should give us pause. There's that to reckon with,

Read another


Act 1, Scene 3

Which makes us swallow turmoil for so long.

For who would bear the whips and needles of

Our times, the tyrant's wrong, the proud man's scorn,

The pangs of love denied,1 the law's delay,

The brusque official, and rejection that

The patient and deserving take from lessers

When he himself could settle all accounts

With one thin dagger? Who would bear these loads,

To grunt and sweat beneath a weary life,

Unless the dread of something after death—

An undiscovered country, from whose frontier

No traveler returns—confounds this urge,

And makes us rather bear the ills we have

Than fly toward others we know nothing of?

Our conscience,2 thus, makes cowards of us all,

And thus the natural color of resolve

Turns sickly in the pallid shade of thinking,

And enterprises of great scope and moment,

Because of this, their currents go awry

And drift into inaction.

© 2012 by Kent Richmond


Word Range Comparisons
Word Count in original 262
Unique words in original 156
Word Count in translation 261
Unique words in translation 155


Read another excerpt

Act 1, Scene 3



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Hamlet and the Players

Hamlet and the Players



1 The original is either despised love (meaning unrequited) or disprized love (meaning unvalued). [return to the play]

2 Shakespeare could mean general consciousness, not moral conscience. Alternate translation: “Thus, consciousness makes cowards of us all.” [return to the play]