Could you on this fair mountain leave to feed, And batten on this moor?

I’ve been obsessed with this “translation” conversation this week – and I can’t help seeing this line through the lens of having to paraphrase it. When you HEAR this line – you hear Hamlet essentially calling Claudius a Moor.

While, technically, the metaphor is that Hamlet, Senior, is a mountain and Claudius a barren field, the sound of it will likely give you a double experience. You can hear two different kinds of Moors. The racial slur of Moor is a problematic aspect. If I were “translating” I’d be tempted to choose the pedestrian FIELD meaning just so as to avoid the contemporary discomfort with talking about racial politics. I’d be especially tempted to make that change to make Hamlet, the hero, look better. But I am not convinced that that would be the right thing to do.


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