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QUEEN ELIZABETH

O, thou well-skilled in curses, stay awhile,
And teach me how to curse mine enemies.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

You who are so skilled in cursing, stay awhile and teach me how to curse my enemies.

QUEEN MARGARET

Forbear to sleep the nights, and fast the days;
120Compare dead happiness with living woe;
Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were,
And he that slew them fouler than he is.
Bettering thy loss makes the bad causer worse.
Revolving this will teach thee how to curse.

QUEEN MARGARET

Don’t sleep at night, and don’t eat during the day. Compare what you’ve lost with what you suffer now. Remember your children as being sweeter than they actually were, and think of the man who killed them as worse than he is. Making your loss greater makes the person who caused it worse. Think like this all day, and you’ll learn how to curse.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

125My words are dull. O, quicken them with thine!

QUEEN ELIZABETH

My words are dull. Enliven them with yours!

QUEEN MARGARET

Thy woes will make them sharp and pierce like mine.

QUEEN MARGARET

Your misery will make them sharp and piercing like mine.
Exit
She exits.

DUCHESS

Why should calamity be full of words?

DUCHESS

What good does it do to respond to catastrophe with a lot of words?

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Windy attorneys to their clients' woes,
Airy succeeders of intestate joys,
130Poor breathing orators of miseries,
Let them have scope, though what they will impart
Help nothing else, yet do they ease the heart.

QUEEN ELIZABETH

Words are a lot of useless breath, like lawyers who won’t stop arguing for their sad clients, like a worthless inheritance, or like poor speech-makers who won’t stop speaking. But give words a chance. Though they won’t help in any other way, at least they make us feel better.

DUCHESS

If so, then be not tongue-tied. Go with me,
And in the breath of bitter words let’s smother
135My damnèd son that thy two sweet sons smothered.

DUCHESS

If that’s true, then don’t be tongue-tied. Come with me, and let’s smother my fiendish son—who smothered your two sweet sons—in bitter words.
A trumpet sounds
A trumpet plays.
The trumpet sounds. Be copious in exclaims.
I hear his battle drums. Don’t stint on your words.