Gertrude: “But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading . . .”
What book he was reading – we still don’t know,
For Shakespeare doesn’t tell us. Just that
He was reading! What’s more, by that point the scene
Was charged with an ominous light, and in the world
Beyond, where a pale ghost had cried down revenge,
The gloom was deeper still. And yet, even so –
With a book, with a book! How fortunate,
To catch up with him at just this moment.
For in what else could he take comfort,
When all had grown so pernicious and brutal?
And we too were lucky, reading saved us as well,
Through times of trouble a book sustained us.
To leave here, and enter another place, and dwell,
If just for an hour, in that cherished haven.
“But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading,”
Having put aside madness and masquerading.
Translation from the Russian