The Two Noble Kinsmen In Plain and Simple English (Digital Download)
Unraveling Chaucer's Legacy

From the pages of Chaucer emerges a tale reborn in Shakespearean drama. Yet, the nuanced Elizabethan language often leaves modern readers stumbling. What if the legacy of 'The Two Noble Kinsmen' could be as accessible as any contemporary story?

Venture into a narrative of two close kinsmen whose bond is tested by love and fate. As they find themselves entangled in passion, loyalty, and rivalry, the tale unravels the complexities of friendship and love.

For those who've felt daunted by Shakespeare's intricate language, BookCaps offers a lifeline. Delve into this modern translation of 'The Two Noble Kinsmen', crafted to bring the story to life for today's reader.

Experience the classic and its modern counterpart side by side, and witness the timeless allure of Shakespeare's storytelling.






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Act I
Scene I  

Athens. Before a temple.

(Hymen, Boy, Nymphs, Theseus, Hippolyta, Pirithous, Emilia, Artesius, Attendants, Three Queens)


Enter Hymen with a torch burning; a Boy, in a white robe, before, singing and strewing flow’rs; after Hymen, a Nymph, encompass’d in her tresses, bearing a wheaten garland; then Theseus, between two other Nymphs with wheaten chaplets an their heads; then Hippolyta, the bride, led by Pirithous, and another holding a garland over her head (her tresses likewise hanging; after her, Emilia, holding up her train; Artesius and Attendants.



Music. The Song by the Boy.

Roses, their sharp spines being gone,

Not royal in their smells alone,

But in their hue;

Maiden pinks, of odor faint,

Daisies smell-less, yet most quaint,

And sweet thyme true;

Primrose, first-born child of Ver,

Merry spring-time’s harbinger,

With her bells dim;

Oxlips in their cradles growing,

Marigolds on death-beds blowing,

Larks’-heels trim;

All dear Nature’s children sweet,

Lie ’fore bride and bridegroom’s feet.

Strew flowers.

Blessing their sense;

Not an angel of the air,

Bird melodious, or bird fair,

Is absent hence.

The crow, the sland’rous cuckoo, nor

The boding raven, nor chough hoar,

Nor chatt’ring pie,

May on our bridehouse perch or sing,

Or with them any discord bring,

But from it fly.

Roses, once their thorns are gone,

are not made royal only by their perfume,

but by their colour as well;

maiden pinks which smell little,

daisies which don't smell but are pretty,

and true sweet thyme;

primroses, first flower of spring,

signalling the happy start of springtime

with her muted bells;

oxlips growing in their cradles,

marigolds blowing over graves,

neat larks'-heels;

all of dear Nature's sweet children

are lying at the bride and bridegroom's feet.

They bless their senses;

not one angel of the air,

sweet singing or beautiful bird,

is missing.

The crow, the lying cuckoo,

the ominous raven, the cold cough,

nor the chattering magpie,

may not sit on the wedding house or sing

or bring any discord here,

they should fly away.

Enter three Queens, in black, with veils stain’d, with imperial crowns. The first Queen falls down at the foot of Theseus; the second falls down at the foot of Hippolyta; the third before Emilia.


For pity’s sake and true gentility’s,

Hear and respect me.

For the sake of pity and nobility,

hear me and respect me.



For your mother’s sake,

And as you wish your womb may thrive with fair ones,

Hear and respect me.

For the sake of your mother,

and your future hopes of beautiful children,

hear me and respect me.


Now for the love of him whom Jove hath mark’d

The honor of your bed, and for the sake

Of clear virginity, be advocate

For us and our distresses! This good deed

Shall raze you out o’ th’ book of trespasses

All you are set down there.

Now for the love of the one whom Jove has chosen

to honour your bed, and in the name

of pure virginity, speak out

for us and our misfortunes!  This good deed

will wipe out all your sins.


Sad lady, rise.

Sad lady, get up.


Stand up.

Stand up.


No knees to me.

What woman I may stead that is distress’d

Does bind me to her.

There's no need to kneel to me.

If a woman is in trouble and needs my help

I will not fail her.


What’s your request? Deliver you for all.

What do you want to ask for?  You speak for all of you.


We are three queens, whose sovereigns fell before

The wrath of cruel Creon; who endured

The beaks of ravens, talents of the kites,

And pecks of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.

He will not suffer us to bum their bones,

To urn their ashes, nor to take th’ offense

Of mortal loathsomeness from the blest eye

Of holy Phoebus, but infects the winds

With stench of our slain lords. O, pity, Duke,

Thou purger of the earth, draw thy fear’d sword

That does good turns to th’ world; give us the bones

Of our dead kings, that we may chapel them;

And of thy boundless goodness take some note

That for our crowned heads we have no roof,

Save this which is the lion’s, and the bear’s,

And vault to every thing!

We are three queens, whose husbands were killed

by the anger of cruel Creon; their bodies were torn

by the beaks of ravens, the claws of kites,

and the pecking of crows in the foul fields of Thebes.

He won't let us cremate them,

to put their ashes in an urn, or to take the horrible sight

of rotting corpses away from the blessed sight

of the holy sun, but lets the stench of our dead husbands

reek through the air.  Pity us, Duke,

you who has cleaned the earth, draw your fearsome sword

that does good deeds for the world; get the bones

of our dead kings for us so we can have a proper funeral;

and in your infinite goodness please note

that we have no roof over our royal heads,

apart from this sky which we share with

the lion, the bear and everything!


Pray you kneel not;

I was transported with your speech, and suffer’d

Your knees to wrong themselves. I have heard the fortunes

Of your dead lords, which gives me such lamenting

As wakes my vengeance and revenge for ’em.

King Capaneus was your lord. The day

That he should marry you, at such a season

As now it is with me, I met your groom

By Mars’s altar. You were that time fair;

Not Juno’s mantle fairer than your tresses,

Nor in more bounty spread her. Your wheaten wreath

Was then nor thresh’d nor blasted; Fortune at you

Dimpled her cheek with smiles. Hercules our kinsman

(Then weaker than your eyes) laid by his club;

He tumbled down upon his Nemean hide,

And swore his sinews thaw’d. O grief and time,

Fearful consumers, you will all devour!

Please don't kneel;

I was absorbed in what you said, and wrongly allowed

you to stay on your knees.  I have heard about the fates

of your dead husbands, and it makes me so sad

that it inspires me to take revenge for them.

Your husband was King Capaneus.  On your

wedding day, on the same occasion I am now

enjoying, I met your groom at

the altar of Mars.  You were lovely at that time;

Juno's cloak was not more lovely than your hair,

nor more plentiful.  Your golden locks

hadn't been torn or windblown; Fortune

smiled upon you.  Our kinsman Hercules

(who then had less power than your eyes) put down his club;

he tumbled down on his Nemean hide,

and swore he had become weak.  Oh grief and time,

with your terrible greed, you will devour everything!




O, I hope some god,

Some god hath put his mercy in your manhood,

Whereto he’ll infuse pow’r, and press you forth

Our undertaker.

Oh, I hope some god

has added mercy to your manly virtues,

which he will make work and employ you

to do this service for us.


O, no knees, none, widow!

Unto the helmeted Bellona use them,

And pray for me your soldier.

Troubled I am.

Oh, no kneeling, widow!

Use your knees to pray to the goddess of war,

and pray for me as your soldier.

I am troubled.

Turns away.


Honored Hippolyta,

Most dreaded Amazonian, that hast slain

The scythe-tusk’d boar; that with thy arm, as strong

As it is white, wast near to make the male

To thy sex captive, but that this thy lord,

Born to uphold creation in that honor

First Nature styl’d it in, shrunk thee into

The bound thou wast o’erflowing, at once subduing

Thy force and thy affection; soldieress

That equally canst poise sternness with pity,

Whom now I know hast much more power on him

Than ever he had on thee, who ow’st his strength,

And his love too, who is a servant for

The tenor of thy speech; dear glass of ladies,

Bid him that we, whom flaming war doth scorch,

Under the shadow of his sword may cool us;

Require him he advance it o’er our heads;

Speak’t in a woman’s key—like such a woman

As any of us three; weep ere you fail;

Lend us a knee;

But touch the ground for us no longer time

Than a dove’s motion when the head’s pluck’d off;

Tell him, if he i’ th’ blood-siz’d field lay swoll’n,

Showing the sun his teeth, grinning at the moon,

What you would do.

Respected Hippolyta,

Most feared Amazonian, who has killed

the sharp-tusked boar; you who almost,

with your strong white arm, subdued

the male sex, until your lord here,

this perfect specimen

of Nature, pushed your advances

back, capturing your force and your love;

as a soldier you can show both sternness and pity,

and I now know you have much more power over him

than he ever had over you, you have captured his force

and his love too, he will do

anything you say; dear perfect lady,

tell him that we, burned by flaming war,

want to be cooled in the shade of his sword;

tell him to hold it over our heads;

speak to him as a woman - a woman like any of us;

weep before you admit defeat;

kneel to him;

but don't do so for longer

than a dove keeps moving when its head is cut off;

tell him what you would do if he lay rotting

on a blood-soaked battlefield, turning into a skeleton

beneath the open skies.


Poor lady, say no more:

I had as lief trace this good action with you

As that whereto I am going, and never yet

Went I so willing way. My lord is taken

Heart-deep with your distress. Let him consider.

I’ll speak anon.

Poor lady, say no more:

I'm as happy to help you

as I am to be married, and I was never

happier about anything than that.  My lord

feels your distress deep in his heart.  Let him think.

I'll speak to him soon.


O, my petition was

Kneel to Emilia.

Set down in ice, which by hot grief uncandied

Melts into drops; so sorrow wanting form

Is press’d with deeper matter.

Oh, my request was

written on ice, which was melted by

bitter hot grief; so sorrow cannot show itself

when faced with such a great evil.


Pray stand up,

Your grief is written in your cheek.

Please stand up,

your grief is obvious from your face.


O, woe,

You cannot read it there. There, through my tears,

Like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream,

You may behold ’em. Lady, lady, alack!

He that will all the treasure know o’ th’ earth

Must know the centre too; he that will fish

For my least minnow, let him lead his line

To catch one at my heart. O, pardon me,

Extremity, that sharpens sundry wits,

Makes me a fool.

Oh, you cannot

see my sorrow there.  You can see my cheeks under my tears

like wrinkled pebbles in a watery stream.

Alas, lady!

Someone who wants the treasure of the earth must dig into it;

if you want to know any part of my grief

you have to look deep into my heart.  Oh, pardon me,

extreme suffering, that makes some people sharper,

makes me a fool.


Pray you say nothing, pray you.

Who cannot feel nor see the rain, being in’t,

Knows neither wet nor dry. If that you were

The ground-piece of some painter, I would buy you

T’ instruct me ’gainst a capital grief indeed--

Such heart-pierc’d demonstration! But alas,

Being a natural sister of our sex,

Your sorrow beats so ardently upon me

That it shall make a counter-reflect ’gainst

My brother’s heart, and warm it to some pity,

Though it were made of stone. Pray have good comfort.

Please, I beg you, say nothing.

Someone who can't see or feel the rain,

when they're in it,

knows nothing.  If you were

a painting, I would buy you

to keep as an example of the greatest sorrow-

such a heartrending example!  But alas,

as all we women are sisters,

your sorrow affects me so deeply

that it will reflect off me into

my brother's heart, and kindle pity there

even if it were made of stone.  Please be sure of that.


Forward to th’ temple. Leave not out a jot

O’ th’ sacred ceremony.

Onward to the temple.  Don't leave out a word

of the sacred ceremony.
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