I read a sentence in "The Tempest" by Shakespeare which was:

O, my heart bleeds To think o' th' teen that I have turn'd you to, which is from my remembrance. Please you, farther.

And the translation of it was:

Oh, it breaks my heart to think about how sad it must make you to be reminded of these events that I don’t remember! Please, though, continue.

How can "o' th' teen that I have turn'd you to, which is from my remembrance" mean anything like what in the translation is? And is there anything I can do to better understand the play because the language used is archaic and the short forms and forms of addresses are incomprehensible to me.

  • 1
    Shakespeare is incomprehensible to > 99% of native modern English speakers too.
    – TypeIA
    Jun 4, 2019 at 5:21
  • 1
    Shakespeare was active in the late 16th early 17th century over 400 years ago so the language is indeed archaic. Shakespeare also used clever and novel ways to bend the language for his needs. For English language learners, his works are not a good example of how modern English is spoken today. You have to go to a historical reference dictionary like the OED to find out what these words meant in context around the 1590-1610's. He also employs wordplay that only makes sense in context of the rest of the piece of work. Much of Shakespeare's content has more than one meaning as well.
    – user95841
    Jun 4, 2019 at 5:26

1 Answer 1


The key word that will cause trouble here is "teen" since it has nothing to do with "teenager" (a word and concept that did not exist in 1600) but it means "trouble, grief, suffering". And "turn'd" means "sent". Here the gloss suggests the speaker "turn'd" this "teen", by asking him to relive past events. As the gloss suggests "which is from my remembrance" means "which I don't remember". So:

My heart bleeds to think of the *troubles and suffering" that I am putting you though (by asking you to describe these events), though I don't remember the events...

Of course, reading Shakespeare is hard. People spend their whole lives studying him. You can use a Shakespeare dictionary like Shakespears Words. Or use a quality translation in your own language. Translations of Shakespeare, if done well, can be much better than modern English glosses. But if you want "easy" then try some other writer.

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