If Shakespeare wrote in GIFs?

Feb 12, 2022

In the Translation Certificate Program, students are asked to deeply consider various translation issues. When translating ancient Buddhist texts, the issue of modernization comes into play. The current standard is to translate into modern English. Is something lost in the modernization? What is gained? We took a radical approach to this and had students translate Shakespeare into modern English, modern Chinese, and even GIFs! The true timelessness of Shakespeare becomes apparent.

Peter Tran BA’2

Sonnet #29
When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,

I all alone beweep my outcast state,

And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,

And look upon myself and curse my fate,

Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possessed,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;

Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,

(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven’s gate;

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings

That then I scorn to change my state with kings.

(All GIFs are from We do not claim any ownership over the GIFs.)

Justin Lee TC’22
Sonnet #64 (Modernized English)

When I have seen the terrible hand of Time tarnish
The price of old age that follows being proudly rich;
Sometimes, when I see tall towers toppled,
And brass an eternal slave to death;
When I see the hungry ocean acquire
Dominance over the kingdom on the shore,
And solid land triumphing over open, watery ocean,
Loss increased by possession, and possession by loss;
When I see such interchanging conditions,
Or the state itself defeated to decay;
Destruction has taught me like so to contemplate,
Time will come and steal my love away.
This thought is like death, which cannot choose
But only cry to have what it will eventually lose.

Lan Huang TC’22
When I have seen by Time's fell hand defaced
the rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss, and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state, Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate,
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

Jiahui Hung TC’22

Bonus GIF Video of a Poem By Emily Dickinson!