Monday, March 21, 2016

The Vernal Equinox

Pope Gregory IX  (1552-1614)
                                                       

If this were not a leap year, today or yesterday would have been the vernal equinox, the first day of spring.  Instead it was on the 19th.  It is a testimony to the accuracy of the Gregorian calendar that the equinoxes and solstices otherwise come on the same dates every year.  

The differences between the Gregorian and Julian calendars are so slight that few of us will experience them in our lifetimes.  In the Gregorian calendar, century years are not leap years, unless divisible by 400.  Then they are.  Thus the year 2000 was a leap year in both calendars.  1900 was not and 2100 will not be.  In the Julian calendar all were leap years.

The Gregorian calendar reform was adopted by Catholic countries in the 16th Century and by Protestant countries in the 18th Century.  Russia, as a Russian Orthodox country, was not interested in reforms promulgated by the Pope of Rome.  As a Czarist country they were not interested in reforms.

To this day, Lenin and the Bolsheviki storming the Winter Palace in 1917 is known in Russia as the October Revolution and everywhere else as the November Revolution.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

How to Get Organized

Full disclosure statement:  Google gave me a free copy of GoTask before I wrote this review.  On the other hand they give everybody a free copy so my venality "will not influence me".

I suffer from the bane of the retired or otherwise indolent in that I am unable to get organized and get things done.  So it feels like life is passing me by while I dither.

One way to get organized is to make a list of things that I should do.  And I have.  As the saying is, "there's an app for that".  The app I got after reading reviews was ToDoist.  I was initially so hot for it that actually spent $5 and bought the upgrade.  (Having once owned a Commodore 64, it is against my principles to pay for software if there is any possible way to avoid it.)  It is great for making lists of things to do.  One can assign dates when they are supposed to get done.  One can organize sets of things into projects.  One can even make tasks hierarchical within a project.  For example "oil the chain" and "inflate the tires" are subtasks of "ride the bicycle".

Sadly, after a while it became a list of things I hadn't done.

Another useful  software / app is Google Calendar.  Again full disclosure:  Google gave me a free copy of Google Calendar before I wrote this review.  And again, they give everybody a free copy.

Google Calendar is part of the suite of utilities that now come with Gmail.  (Google gave me a free copy of that too.)  It is a fairly complete scheduling system which can also be used by several people together, typically in an office or an unusually active and over-scheduled family.  One can set out tasks and appointments for every hour of the day or even every fifteen minute increment, assign a color to each of them, add extra notes and particulars, make them repeating if you like, set up up to five reminders for each, and so on.

Sadly, after a while it became a schedule of things I hadn't done.

Recently I got a copy of Google's GoTask.  I have already admitted that Google gave me a free copy of GoTask and so on.   It is fairly similar to ToDoist in that one makes tasks and organizes them into lists, and one can organize the lists into some larger unit.  One can assign dates here too.  Actually there is a lot of overlap among these three softwares.  The real basis of choosing among them is not the software's features so much as your features.

Since I am hopeless at keeping a schedule and am readily overwhelmed by a long list of tasks to do, I realized that I need to have lists of tasks which can be readily organized such that what is presented is not so much the list as the first thing on it.

Ever so slowly, confronted with only one task, I will eventually undertake it.   So far so good.  I have done very little, but the difference between that and doing nothing is huuuuge.



Monday, August 17, 2015

WHY I LOVE DONALD TRUMP




Keeping illegals illegal while forgetting to deport them just happens to be the sweet spot of a strategy to keep a whole class of people working for sub-par salaries with no bargaining rights and no social protections like unemployment insurance, workman's comp if they get injured, no social security, no withholding and so on. Illegal employees are a huge gravy train for the employer class, both Republicans and Democrats. They are an underclass of super-exploited employees.

At the same time the presence of a large class of employees being paid sub-par salaries keeps constant downward pressure on salaries for everyone else. Which again improves profits for employers at the expense of their employees. Every politician who talks smack about the illegal immigrant "problem" is lying to you to your face. The two political groups perpetrating this immense fraud on the American public are the Democrats and the Republicans.

Donald Trump is in effect calling the Republican Party on its perennial hypocritical lying about being against illegal immigration when in fact they are all for it because they make so much money off it. Of course he is lying too but he is upping the ante on the rest of the Republicans who will still be in Congress trying to maintain the system long after Trump is gone.

Maintaining a class of millions of illegal immigrants is the edge of the sword of class warfare in the US.

Let's say Trump were elected and not assassinated and actually made good on his campaign promise to deport the illegals. (Because American politicians always keep their campaign promises.) There would be major dislocations in the US economy as agriculture and construction both collapsed. Service, manufacturing, and other industries would contract sharply.

Prices would shoot up because of labor shortages and because employees would no longer be as disposable as fast food wrappers as they are now. Salaries would rise and inflation would return. Interest rates would rise to accommodate inflation. Rising costs of borrowing would slow the economy and profits would fall or vanish. The economy would contract.

How do you think the economy can expand so much as it has in the past few years without causing any inflation? Because the presence of the illegal immigrant class keeps salaries from rising so labor costs remain flat while productivity and profits both rise.

What would be the effect of sending 17 million unemployed people to Mexico, a country whose government can barely maintain itself in power as it is? Between Mexico's revolutionary traditions and its modern cartel warfare, the influx of 17 million angry unemployed people could easily lead to the collapse of the Mexican state and the descent of Mexico, a country of 140 million people, into anarchy. Imagine that on our border.

An example of what happens was the mass deportation of 300,000 Palestinians whom Kuwait kicked out for siding with Saddam Hussein during the Iraqi occupation. The return of those hundreds of thousands of unemployed men to Palestinian towns and cities led directly to the Second Intifada - a year of rioting and guerrilla warfare against Israel. Imagine the same thing, but 50 time bigger, happening in Mexico.

Trump, in his own way, is pointing out on what rotten foundations our economy stands.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Prequel to Hamlet

Prequel to Hamlet


A tragedy in five acts




by Jack Kessler

with apologies to
William Shakespeare
















Jack Kessler
3060 El Cerrito Plaza, Box 142
El Cerrito, California 94530


(510) 421-0471







PREQUEL TO HAMLET


DRAMATIS PERSONAE


OLD DENMARK, King of Denmark, an old man
GERTRUDE, daughter of OLD DENMARK, initially a young woman
LORD ELSINORE, husband of GERTRUDE, later KING HAMLET, a man
CLAUDIUS, brother to LORD ELSINORE, a man
FORTINBRAS, Lord of the Isles, younger brother of OLD DENMARK
LAERTES, an officer, later POLONIUS, the royal vizier, a man
LAERTES, an officer, son of POLONIUS, a young man
OPHELIA, daughter of POLONIUS, a young woman
HAMLET, son of KING HAMLET, a young man
HAMLET, the same, as a 7 year old boy
VOLTIMAND, a Danish lord, middle aged or older
CORNELIUS, a Danish lord, a man
BASIL, a courtier, a man
OSRIC, a courtier, men
YORICK, a court jester, a man
YORICK, son of YORICK, also a court jester, a young man
REYNALDO, a servant, a man
PERCILIUS, a servant, a man
FRANCISCO, a sargeant, a man
BERNARDO, a soldier, a man
MARCELLUS, an officer, a man
SCANDBERG, a gentleman
MATTATHIAS, a gentleman
HAEBØRG, a gentleman
WOJOHOWICZ, a Polish soldier, a man
JARUZELSKI, a Polish soldier, a man
LOOKOUT, a Polish soldier, a man
COOKS, men and women
BISHOP, a man
MUSICIANS, men or women
DANCERS, men and women
SINGERS, men and women
Danish lords, men
Norse lords, men
Servants, four men and women
POM, a bear
Act I, scene 1 Broth for OLD DENMARK


Antechamber to the king’s chamber in royal palace.


[REYNALDO enters carrying a tureen on a tray. PERCILIUS is already on stage.]


PERCILIUS
G_d be with thee, REYNALDO! Where bearest thou such beauteous pot that reekest his savory vapor upon mine hungry nostril? Seek’st thou a hidden place to sup upon thy morsel doubtless from under cook’s unwatchful eye slyly snatched? Perhap thou’ll partage1 thy partake with new friend? Thou may have so much as will fill two mouths. Is’t mess2 of stew?


REYNALDO
Nay.


PERCILIUS
Say ye, “Nay, it is no stew.”? Or again, “Nay, there’s naught for thee”?


REYNALDO
Aye. Those.


PERCILIUS
And why wouldst thou so, sir? For there be two to gain that now you lack.


REYNALDO
Marry, what be those twain a-lack?


PERCILIUS
One ought suffice. That one’s naught but I. You have want of a fellow to share your trough. Ha’ ye not heard men say, “Fellowship at table’s a better course than meat”?


REYNALDO
Nay, I have heard no man say’t.


PERCILIUS
Nor I. But I say it now.


REYNALDO
We’ll take that one for done, or undone. What follows it?


PERCILIUS
My grateful heart. Shouldst break bread with me, or whate’er thou hast cloistered in yon pot ye bear, I’ll owe thee gratitude to call upon whene’er it pleaseth thee e’er after.

REYNALDO
Fie upon it! Away with it! I would as lief3 sand between my grinders4 as any man’s gratitude upon mine ear. Gratitude’s fairy’s gold, oft bespoke and wish’t for, ne’er seen. Promise me an unicorn or centaur and I’ll sooner ride than promise me gratitude and I’ll gain the good of it.


PERCILIUS
What then wouldst thou?


REYNALDO
Naught at all. This dish I bear is no more for me to fill upon than for thee to swallow. ‘Tis for the king that’s dying abed behind these doors.


PERCILIUS
Dying? How dying?


REYNALDO
As old men die. His moon wanes to its last, his light pales to wan. His month to shine upon the earth is all but o’er. So shrinks he daily to thin crescent. Then silent slide into darkness.


PERCILIUS
In that I’ll carry thy duty for thee, an5 ye allow.


REYNALDO
Ha! Think ye to eat up the king’s thin broth? Or that grateful for it, he’ll herit6 thee his kingdom, like old Esau, trade holy Israel for mess o’ pottage7?


PERCILIUS
Nay, such gifts kings fancy but for other kings. Yet a dying man oft casts off his outer things before he cast off his flesh. Mayhap a prancing saddled horse, again a velvet cloak closed with golden chain, yet a jewel-pommeled8 sword, still gold rowelled9 spurs of fine silver. Such are but trinkets to kingly pomp, slipped aside on dotard10 whim.


REYNALDO
Horse? Sword? Even spurs? Think ye knighthood not too heavy dignity to bear upon such slant shoulders? Would ye platter for shield, spoon for sword, bowl for glistening helm?


PERCILIUS
I’ll take it in for thee.


REYNALDO
Nay, ‘tis my duty. And mayhap my majestic lord be in a giving vein he’ll a copper slip. And in purse with blear eye find silver in its stead. Or meaning silver toss gold. ‘Twould be a cottage’s worth.


PERCILIUS
All the more then will I assist thee.


[They struggle for the tray. REYNALDO stamps on PERCILIUS’ foot.]


REYNALDO
And so an end on it.


[Exeunt.11]




Act I, Scene 2 OLD DENMARK

[OLD DENMARK is abed.]
[REYNALDO enters bearing tureen12. Places it on small table next to bed. OLD DENMARK ignores it.]


OLD DENMARK
Are they gathered without?


REYNALDO
They are foregathered, sire, and would attend your majesty.


OLD DENMARK
Send them in by their rank.


[Exit REYNALDO]


OLD DENMARK
Carrion13 not cold and they come to clean our bones. Now wizened old, dying, our days are few, if this be not the last.  The days before our time are a gaudy half-believed legend of saints and heroes, of dragon’s teeth and the golden age. What is to come after us is a wisp, almost seen.  Yet, what is to be, that almost-nothing, is a resistless flood moving across the universe, sparing nothing of what is, carrying away all things. And doth not that everywhere fluid at last burst forth like waters from full-to-bursting dame, and carry us in pitched ark-cradle interred14 to another birth? [pauses. Crosses himself.] So we believe.


[Enter GERTRUDE and REYNALDO. REYNALDO stands apart.]


GERTRUDE
Hail father, sire15 and king.


OLD DENMARK
Gertrude, our daughter-princess, portrait of thy mother-queen that’s gone, no less like than spring’s lily to lily of spring’s yesteryear. How we love thee! Why wear ye these weeds of mourning? They be not for us we trow, we have not died though soon enow.


GERTRUDE
All Denmark’s draped in ebon in her sorrow that thou majesty, her king and master, liest ill. The general woe lieth most heavy upon my poor head, who fear for king like all alike, and for sire, my special fret.


OLD DENMARK
So in years of yore cast we all the realm from sea to sea in inky shades, misery’s glass, when childbed’s gore ript from us love, wife, and queen – son, prince, and heir. During two moons time by stern ordinance were forbid maid to laugh or swain to woo. Drear they wore. They wept for us and queen and heir, and for themselves. The kingdom’s empty cradle, its displanted seed, foretold rank growth of tumult, of invasion’s havoc, drawn by tug of sovereign diadem, that union pearl our father Cnut wore blazon upon his triple crown of Denmark, Norway, and the Isles.


GERTRUDE
Heir I yet may bear, that Denmark’s throne be not unpeopled and her fears allayed. And thus the easy boon I beg of thee, sire and sovereign lord. Commend my husband to the council of lords to make him king when the fates with black and bloody hands have savaged us of thee. ‘Tis not for myself I plead, but for my husband’s sake and all Denmark’s that she have rightful line to rule her, seed of thine, majesty, and of thy father before thee. That lawful and honored succession shall keep from the land intestine feud and the quest of foreign kings.


OLD DENMARK
Seek thee no boon for thyself in this, beloved daughter?


GERTRUDE
Nay. For my poor self I care naught. ‘Tis not a scoff16 to me an I, being a king’s daughter, shall become a king’s wife and Queen of Denmark, proud envy and dread of court ladies, loved and honored of every Danish heart. My lot, an17 thee commend thy brother, my uncle Fortinbras, though not as fine, would be as good. Though I should then be a king’s niece and, in the second rank of ladies, wait upon my then queenly aunt, ‘tis honor enough for me. What care I which is to be? ‘Tis all one18.

OLD DENMARK
Aye, Fortinbras thine uncle is our father’s son and kin to me. He, junior of the brethren three and second dame’s bear19, hath but the scrapings of empire. Our father Cnut held in awe all the lands among the seas, and did bequeath in purchase20 firm to us and our brother Norway the two great orbs21 in this our watery firmament22. An he succeed23 in Denmark then stand land and throne and union pearl yet within our father’s house and line, though not in mine. 


GERTRUDE
Is my uncle’s claim so dear that your flesh and mine should yield our Denmark to it?


OLD DENMARK
Aye, it is. Denmark’s king’s elect24, though old king’s commend is near command. Norway’s kingship passeth from kin to kith25. When no son succeeds the brother’s heir. Our brother Fortinbras will not suffer again to be denied regal sway26 o’er Denmark. To deny his claim would bring War-Geat27 troops to trample our long peace. An we commend him, the two laws make the same king. And war’s averted.


GERTRUDE
Heir I yet may bear.


OLD DENMARK
Shall Denmark’s lives and peace, her state’s frame, hang upon tender damsel’s womb to teem8, lest they perish?


GERTRUDE
Child o’ mine were child o’ thine and seed o’ thy father before thee. So wouldst thy get29 and dynasty reign in Denmark and wear the pearl blazoned on their crowned brows ‘til Kingdom come.


OLD DENMARK
Aye, ‘tis what kings rule and scheme for, that their sons and their son’s sons outlast them, that their seed rule long and exalt their ancestor kings. It is townsman’s work to build house and roof that will serve his son. ‘Tis king’s work to build royal house that will last a thousand years, as pharoah followed pharoah, and pharoah pharoah, ‘til the Nile and pyramids grew old. The Jews remember Moses. But kings remember Ramses, great-great-grandson of Ramses, great-great-grandsire of Ramses, whose royal house of Egyptian stone and Hebrew brick outlived memory. But’tis idle30. Our days in the light are few and no man knoweth when dame hath conceived.


GERTRUDE
Aye, ye speak true, father. No man knoweth.


OLD DENMARK
What is thy purport31 in this, daughter?


GERTRUDE
Much that no man knoweth is to woman plain.


OLD DENMARK
A second heart within thee beats life’s fervid2 pulse?


GERTRUDE
To speak too plain of matters brings blush of modesty to mine neck.


OLD DENMARK
Ah tender child! Our own sweet Gertrude!  Reynaldo, chair and footstool! She must not stand lest she tire or some hurt befall her and new formed babe. Pitcher and goblet! A cushion!


[Exit REYNALDO]


Most joyous felicitous news.


[Enter LORD ELSINORE.]


ELSINORE
Hail, sire and sovereign king! May you yet be well and rise from yon bed upon which now thou so sorely liest, to our sorrow and hurt.


OLD DENMARK
Welcome Elsinore, favorite general and our new son.


ELSINORE
I glory in it that ye clepeth33 me so, majesty and puissant34 lord. You have not before.


[Enter REYNALDO and PERCILIUS, bearing chair, etcetera. Exit PERCILIUS.]


OLD DENMARK
Think not on’t for now we do. Mayhap ‘twixt Denmark’s Norsker35 king and Dansker36 lord some small space intrude. Thou Elsinore hast led our army’s column, been erect pillar of our state. Many a rough camp has been thy haunt on the far marches of our rule, many a battle hast thou borne for us and many more than bear fame, raid and counter-raid where men’s lives are slashed down as but gleanings37, ‘til army fall upon army and the full blood harvest feed the ground. No stranger hath thou been to Denmark’s foes, and they that fear the Dane, fear thee.


ELSINORE
You honor me too much, royal sire. You bring a blush to my hard soldier’s cheek.


OLD DENMARK
Thine own estate, Castle Elsinore, doth on cliff’s brow beetle38 o’er the water pass39, the Baltic gate. As so, marshal of our state, be too our son. Thou broadax of the kingdom, fell hammer of the realm, add to thy rough club of martial40 sway, majesty’s sceptred41 rule when our hand from it fall, as soon it shall. Be no more but daughter’s husband, be thou now son to us and successor to our rule.  Rule after us. When we are no more, yours too shall be our own privy42 lands and goods, our revenues and gold. But all on strict condition.

GERTRUDE
Condition, sire? What condition?


ELSINORE
Beloved monarch! Gavest thou not kingdoms but cuffs and blows, so yet would I any condition seal a thousand times, whate’er it be. Hint but that thou wouldst for a jest want this right hand cut off, embalmed, to hold taper43 at thy table and I would give it and its fellow for candlesticks and hold myself the winner for having pleased thee, o king.


OLD DENMARK
Aye, that is what we would have of thee, Elsinore, thy hand.  Having had thine arm’s armed service these full many a year, now would we have thy hand in solemn pledge upon jeweled testament4.  The pledge we put on thee condition to our commendation to the lords is but this – swear you will take no wife but Gertrude, that thou shalt not put her from thee nor have any bedfellow but she, that she shall be thy queen and jointress of thy state. Swear that none but issue45 of her body shall be king in Denmark after thee. Swear these things and we shall commend thee king.


ELSINORE
Sire, I have already sworn.


OLD DENMARK
Aye, thou hast.. ‘Twas thy wedding vow before G_d’s holy bishops when took’st thou my daughter to wife. Shall ye swear it again as act of state and guarantee succession to her natural kind6? Having sworn it before lords spiritual and holy, wilt thou swear again before lords temporal47 and profane48? With both thy hands we would have thee hold her fast to thee. Wilt thou do it?


ELSINORE
I will, king and father. I shall.


OLD DENMARK
Swear.


ELSINORE
I swear.


OLD DENMARK
Send we now our royal summons to the lords.  Precious daughter, pray leave us. We would speak to thy husband of what only kings may know and others but surmise49. Reynaldo, attend her that no hurt befall her or babe unborn.


[Exeunt GERTRUDE and REYNALDO]


E’en an if the babe she bears be born a maid, womb that beareth one can bear another.


My Lord of Elsinore, much that I would tell thee of kingship thou knowest already. Though but servant martial to our royal court and will, king in camp hast thou been to those that served thee. Thou knowest already when to command by dread, when by kindness, and all such arts. Thy general’s baton and epaulet50 command great and small in the field, even unto death. Thou pointest and they go forth, even into the cannon’s mouth. As thou generalest well or ill, so thou hast or hast not a thousand tombstones to reproach and accuse thee for so long as graven stone and memory shall last.


ELSINORE
Aye, sire. ‘Tis no light thing to command lives counted in thousands.


OLD DENMARK
And for all that, to have charge of a kingdom is something more. As thou art a foolish or wicked man so thou bringest thyself to ruin or thy soul to perdition51. As thou art a foolish or wicked king so thou bringest thy state to ruin or thy people to destruction. G_d’s law visiteth man’s iniquity upon his head even unto the fourth generation. A king’s iniquity is so visited upon all his kingdom. When king dieth, his follies and evil deeds die not with him, but persist in the land, written upon men and upon the times. Hunger not fed, pride not curbed, lawlessness not tamed, feud not settled, fortress neglected, are not buried with the man who failed in them, but live.  Even as thou begin, think upon thine end.


ELSINORE
King and master, I shall.


[Exit LORD ELSINORE. Curtain.]
Act I Scene 3 LORD ELSINORE Elected.


[A room in the royal palace]


[BASIL and several other courtiers, among them YORICK, are chatting casually, some standing, some sitting, both men and women.]


[OSRIC rushes in from stage right.]


OSRIC
[shouting excitedly] Steel! Steel!


BASIL
What steel? What meanest thou, so to invoke the basest of metals, the edge of war?


OSRIC
[still excited] E’en so! E’en that!


BASIL
E’en what? War?


OSRIC
Aye, war!


BASIL
What war?


OSRIC
The lords’ war! The war o’ the kings!


BASIL
[becoming agitated] The lords? Are they then decided?


OSRIC
Aye, my lord, they are.


[The other courtiers fall silent and start to gather around BASIL and OSRIC. There is a clatter of arms offstage]


BASIL
[deliberately] Who is chosen?


OSRIC
[takes a deep breath] Lord Elsinore. My Lord Elsinore is chosen king.


[Hubbub among the courtiers.]


BASIL
Lord Elsinore! Can it be so!


YORICK
Could it be else?

BASIL
[thoughtfully] Nay.


[to OSRIC] What news else?


OSRIC
The fleet of Fortinbras, Lord of the Isles, is seen upon our coast. Men say the ships bear in their balsam52 bosoms53 Norway’s power of foot54, rank on rank of men clad in steel, bearing steel, bearing all Denmark woe.


[More hubbub. Exit OSRIC stage left, shouting]


Steel! Steel!.


[Exeunt omnes muttering excitedly, stage right, except YORICK.]


[Enter Danish lords, among them VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS. YORICK stands apart from them.]


VOLTIMAND
I say you sir, it is done. It cannot be undone.


CORNELIUS
We knew not then it brought upon ourselves this rattle of man-killing steel. I pray you, my lord, consider again.


VOLTIMAND
If Denmark make or unmake her king as we are o’erawed by might or smiled upon, what right is then secure in the land? What means then our law? Is it a thing for sunny weather only, a striped pavilion55 to be taken down when clouds gather? A king-elect’s blood runs royal whilst he lives. None can undo it. Even regicide56 most unnatural and foul leaves behind it a king’s body and not a common man’s.  These past days we have with gorgeous pomps57 funebral58 marked Old Denmark’s passing and with martial tournament marked his days’ end. What common man’s death is measured so?


CORNELIUS
But must we pay for royal blood with so much common blood?


VOLTIMAND
An the lawful king be o’erthrown, unthroned, upon convenience, what else of rule remains? May not every lawful bond be so cast aside? Shall the servant heed the master, the pupil the tutor, the Christian the priest, e’en the ox the ploughman, if we brush aside rightful rule? Why should they? An we cast aside bonds of ancient usage what then holds husband and wife, lord and vassal, brother and brother, father and son? What law then binds ‘em? So, choices made by men are bonds between them made and cannot be undone. Done by men, they are sanctified by G_d, and by our need.


CORNELIUS
It is e’en so, my lord.


[exeunt. YORICK comes to center stage.]


YORICK
So is it ever with these our Danish nobles. An comes here a Norsker king to seek a crown, who’d put Norsker lords where these Danes now sit, then in their eyes is all the world o’erturned. To hear their tale, the tempering of men that they be not beasts, the gentlenesses pressed on tender babe by careful parent, respect for age, youth’s wonder at a lily, man’s hard-won lore of field and smithy59, religions bonds sublime, faith kept with those who sleep in the dust, the law’s proud majesty, all, all would fall to ruin were these Danish lords denied emolument60 of office. If any but Dane were to have preferment in the state then cows would kick and butt who ne’er kicked or butt before. [pauses. muses.]


‘Tis not feigned61 – they think it so.


But there is some’at else in it than these pleasantries. Man submits to rule when he finds it just and eke62 when he holds it mighty. But it is not only from fear and concord63 to rule that we do bend our necks. Is there not some secret place in man that in an idle phantasmagoria64 he is king himself and bears the soft-glowing diadem65 on his own brow? And that dream of power and kingly pelf66, banished by life’s slights on everyman, is not wholly wakened from e’er. No, we dream in daylight that we are king even while we see with eager eyes that another is. His rule is ours. We glory that the carriage spokes are gilded even while the wheels ride us down.
[pauses. muses.]


The king’s splendor, state67, and resistless might is our wished-for selves, who each would be could we but cast off the turnip-skins of our lives. The sceptre of of the royal office is dreams, wishing is the throne on which power sits. [pauses, but more briefly]


A king thus cast, though unlike in every particular – great where we are small, mighty where we are timid, noble where we are petty, generous where we are mean, yet he must be our like in immutables or we cannot dream ourselves into him. Can a man dream he were queen? No man’s reverie68 is that he speaks in stranger’s accent and pays home’s fealties69 to lands far off, or wears a likeness of different hue, or worship barbarous idols. So will all and many a man fight to blows and blood and wounds, aye and death, for a tyrant who loves him not, asking but that unloving monarch be one he could wake to be.


[starts to leave stage, then pauses]


But is it not better thus? That only some should strut and rule and ween70, and the rest
but sigh? Maybe there’s selfish wisdom in those old lords yet.


[Exit]
Act I Scene 4 Voltimand on the Duel

[A room in the palace]


[Enter VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]

CORNELIUS
How stands this duel with thee, my lord?.


VOLTIMAND
‘Tis a hard thing that king-elect should fight for crown and life and no sworn subject help him. We his sworn liegemen71 shall hang slack our arms whilst before us enemy king seeks his life with foeman’s rage and murderous edge of steel. As though ‘twere amusement to while away our hours to watch foe whittle away king’s life. It sits hard with me tho’ I see the reason of it.


CORNELIUS
Would’st thou not be witness?

VOLTIMAND
Nay, I’ll stay. Though my duty leaps up in my throat, yet will I keep my peace. An the issue of their debate of arms be that Lord Elsinore press home his point, then Norsker lords, their claimant gone and their honor sworn, may take their siege from off our walls, get their Geats from off our shores. Then is Denmark free and ours, and this weary war be o’er. An Elsinore go down and Fortinbras, eager regicide, stab him, then kingship’s term is run, runs out with king-elect’s royal gore. His army’s might and our sanctioned honor would then the Northman to us commend.


CORNELIUS
Think ye the fight be fair, my lord?.


VOLTIMAND
Aye. Each champion’s hale and firm, of an age and size, proven men not new to war. Their arms are enumerate and same. Each weareth mail and helm, each beareth buckler-shield and broadsword, and no more.


CORNELIUS
But is it not to make it sport to have it so? Is it right to end a war at cost of royal blood?


VOLTIMAND
Aye, ‘tis fair to ask. What’s this day to be is combat single, not clash of armies. Each man is to himself an army entire, an army of one. Each the other’s tailor, each shall take his rival’s measure, make fine sharp cuts for him, plant darts on him, tire him ‘til he pants, make him bear cuffs, and press upon him and finish his suit to be king.


CORNELIUS
Thou art merry, my lord.


VOLTIMAND
Aye, because I will still be alive tonight. Whichever king lives, the other’s liegemen must abide. Shall Norskers and their Geatish troop give up their siege and suit now pressed these nine months and more, paid with fly-food corpses, theirs and ours, bloat and pestilent, piled in their hundreds where they fell, at the foot of the wall, unless they see the test was equal? Nay, it must be as it is to be. There is cause to be merry. This war’s dying is a life short of done.


[Exeunt]

Act I Scene 5 Lord Elsinore’s Soliloquy before the Duel


[A room in Castle Elsinore]


[Enter LORD ELSINORE]

LORD ELSINORE
What rough justice this, to be made matched pair with Fortinbras, no longer Caesar but public gladiator, to duel for Denmark. No word of quell was mine nor his. How call them coward that would not fight or die for my rule an I would not? So brought he and I that mass of men to fight and win or die for us, and then a-sudden turned about that he or I should die for them, to end this more-than-Trojan siege. He or I must give a life that would not spare theirs.


Ancient king-elect of Danes or Norsker rule by kin need not by weary suit be tried if but one live. So will they part in drink and good fellowship, the fight forgot, when I or Fortinbras go down. The Northman king and I shall both see the morrow’s dawn, but one of us its set. Is rule so much, is’t worth a moiety’s72 chance of life? Are not unsceptred lives also dear and sweet?


Naught I choose today. When I a lad pushed other boys about, beat ‘em down in schoolyard fight, when I yet but knight’s squire, in valiant fury avenged myself for foe’s opposition, when I, relentless captain, was general made, then I chose. On those days was this day’s way laid. Fate, careful scribe, sealed the deed not days but years before. Why quake at what we’ve done and what’s to be? Naught’s to lose but life and life’s a whim.


If I would speak plain I dread more defeat before men’s eyes than his keen northern steel. Each man sees himself the world and all’s end in his. Yet in this war’s long test hath many man gasped gore73, and the world’s still here.


And they say there’s bardsong74 glory in’t. What’s that? A name scratched on a wall.


All my fear’s for Gertrude, grown great with child. Comes she this day or next to childbed. Not be her pangs as fraught75 as mine? Full many a dame from childbed ne’er riseth more. Not her cries as shrill as ring of steel on steel?


She laboreth to bring one in e’en in the hour that Norse and I collaborate to cast one out. Though man’s estate is greater, hers is nobler. Tomorrow I die or live for glory or for gain. She for love. If I go down, will they let her live? If I live not to see the morrow’s end, will she?


[exit]
Act I Scene 6 – The Duel


[Enter DANISH LORDS and LORD ELSINORE, NORWEGIAN LORDS and FORTINBRAS, CLAUDIUS, BISHOP]


[A hall in the Royal Palace]


BISHOP
All men hearing my voice know full well the pact. These princes fight alone. None may aid, none but they bear arms in this hall. Who gains the fight hath two prizes - to walk from this room alive, and Denmark. The other shall have neither. Whoe’er fall, no taint or dishonor shall be done his body. The body of the man here un-kinged shall by his kin and liegemen be burnt on Wotan76 pyre if Northman, be buried a fathom77 low if Dane. None shall stint or hamper funeral rite but hold it enough that their champion be king. Denmark hath arms provided. Norway shall choose among them.


[Swords and other arms are on a small table. FORTINBRAS flexes a sword. It breaks. FORTINBRAS hands pieces to CLAUDIUS who places them back on the small table. ]


FORTINBRAS
Fetch another.


[Exit CLAUDIUS. Returns with sword.]


[FORTINBRAS selects arms. Both don mail, etcetera, and ready themselves.]


LORD ELSINORE
I pray you, my lord and uncle Fortinbras, withdraw. You yet may live and rule, Lord of the Isles, all thy days long. Life is good an thou be king here or no. Go thy way and live.

FORTINBRAS
Ha! Thinkst thou so? Think on it again. These men behind us each, kin, liegemen, vassals, friends, have fought these nine months and more, dared Death to take them, to make me king or thee. Each has seen and smelt78 the pestilent horror-pile of men-made-ordure79 at the foot of the wall, hath brother, son, father, friend, in it. Should I say, “Nay, life’s too dear, I’ll not fight though others have.”, they’d kill me for their sport before I saw this palace’s gate. So would thy Danes serve thee. Nay, Elsinore, every part of this business is done but this. I and thou have but one life between us. Come to me, let us see which is to live it. I think it’s me.


[They fight. The fight is long and brutal. Each man is wounded at least once Lots of blood.]


[ELSINORE falls, loses his sword, FORTINBRAS rushes up to stab him but ELSINORE trips him. They grapple and roll around on floor, knocking over table or stand. Pieces of broken sword fall to floor. LORD ELSINORE stabs FORTINBRAS with one of them.]


FORTINBRAS
I die. I am slain with second sword, not agreed, not hid, but found where ‘twas left. [dies.]


[NORWEGIAN LORDS approach menacingly. ELSINORE stands unsteadily. He is badly wounded and a bloody mess.]


LORD ELSINORE
Peace, gentlemen. I say ye peace. I admit there was no honor in this. This was but another man who died for the vanity of kings. He died for naught80. But I slew Fortinbras not to be king but to save my life. This was neither honor nor treachery. Aye, the pact’s letter was each man have one sword. But its spirit was that the fight be equal and desperate. Will any man say he would have refused the murderous shank81 for fairness’ sake and yielded up his life instead? Who here says so? If any man does, I’ll not call thee liar. Thy face will say thee so. Was not a bargain made to sacrifice one contending prince’s life? Ye and these Danes have now sacrificed a prince for peace. Burn now thine offering and return to thy lands.


A NORWEGIAN LORD
Thy words are true, Denmark. We’ll burn him who led us here and then to ship.


[Exeunt NORWEGIAN LORDS bearing FORTINBRAS.]


CLAUDIUS
Come reverend sir and perform thy holy office.


[BISHOP holds crown with huge pearl on the front. LORD ELSINORE kneels.]

BISHOP
[Places crown on LORD ELSINORE’s head.] Rise sire, and add to thy titles now King of Denmark, King of the Danes, the Royal Dane. All hail King Hamlet, King of Denmark!


[DANISH LORDS cheer and congratulate KING HAMLET.]


[Enter OSRIC.]


OSRIC
News, sire.


KING HAMLET
What news?


OSRIC
Thy lady, now thy queen, hath born to thee a son, now a prince, crown prince, and heir. She craves82 thy leave83 to name her newborn son and thine, Hamlet, after thee, sire.


KING HAMLET
Given with all my heart. Let him be Hamlet after me.


[Exit OSRIC.]
[More cheers and congratulations.]


A DANISH LORD
To the feasting hall!


[Exeunt omnes except KING HAMLET.]


KING HAMLET
Here upon me are all the estates of man - king, husband, father. How can I bear such prizes and yet feel naught? Those cheer me king who would as lief84 now cheer Fortinbras had his sword pierced me instead. Each seeks his own estate and interest as he may. We quarrel on a darkling plain until night falls upon us all. Gertrude, a king’s daughter, now a king’s wife, will step in paths her mother trod and all will be as it should. ‘Tis but our lives. We hope for no more than not to be cut short. Only the suckling prince is news – he has no past, has lost nothing, his estate is yet all the world. As I serve Denmark, so I but serve the newborn’s throne. I am liege and servant to what is to be.


[Exit]
Act II Six Years Later - the War with Poland


Scene 1 Before the battle – the soldiers


[On a redoubt or other small fortification on the coastal plain on the southern coast of the Baltic. The field is covered with ice. BERNARDO, FRANCISCO, and MARCELLUS are keeping watch.]


BERNARDO
‘Would there were more to soldiering than being cold.


FRANCISCO
Aye, wars ought be fought in warm happy valleys with food a-plenty and pretty maids all about.


BERNARDO
Were it so, what would there then be for men to fight over if all had enough?


MARCELLUS
So it would seem. Yet are not wars most often fought for kings and their ambitions? Are kings in want?


FRANCISCO
Aye, greatly so. None is more in want than a king. Kings are royally in want.


MARCELLUS
‘Tis so. ‘Tis so. Each is in want according to his estate and station. The beggar is in want of warm gruel85 for his supper. A poor farmer is in want of an ox, a rich one is in want of his neighbor’s farm. An earl is in want of a dukedom, a king is in want of provinces. Thinkest thou a beggar wants a province?


BERNARDO
Aye, a province that hath warm gruel in it.


MARCELLUS
Doth it not follow that the more one hath, the more one is in want? That wanting grows with having?


FRANCISCO
E’en so. So a man who hath nothing is in want of nothing and hath peace?

BERNARDO
Nay, nay, nay. Thou hath said it thyself. A man who hath nothing wanteth gruel, perchance warm, e’en with salt in it for savor. He hopes for it eagerly, as his belly prompts him.


FRANCISCO
Well then, what want we here upon this icy strand86?


BERNARDO
My want is that I couldst go home.


FRANCISCO
As is every man’s here. What wanteth army and king here?


MARCELLUS
The king wants Danes to sleep sound in the night, not lying abed peering into darkness, listening.


FRANCISCO
Listening for what?


MARCELLUS
Poles.


BERNARDO
Poles?


MARCELLUS
Aye. Poles.


FRANCISCO
In Denmark?


MARCELLUS
Aye, in Denmark. If Danes can seize this ground, this empty strand, then is the circle closed. The Baltic Sea, and his black and stormy waters, turbulent and feared, is then engirded87 with our might and of our brethren Norskers. Then saileth on these bleak waters no ships but our ships, the sea is ours, a Danish sea, and the lands about it like ripe fruit, ours to pluck.


BERNARDO
‘Tis an ungrateful ward that would as lief drown a Dane in itself as any other man.


FRANCISCO
Danes need not then fear Polish ships and Polish arms upon our coast?


BERNARDO
But there are no Polish ships.


MARCELLUS
There is another thing and not a small one. When and soon this sea is ours, then will the golden apples of the north be ours. The amber of Russia, warm golden fruit of a land cold and sere88, will be ours. Timber tall for ship and house to sail and stand in southern lands will be ours from Sweden’s shore. Stuffs rare and exotic, almost magic, will our ships without impair89 bring from fabled Constantinople, that second Rome, across the river route of the Rus90, from and from beyond – from the land of Prester John91, from lands too far for even their names to reach us. All these Poles would wrest92 from us if they could. If we drive them back from this sea’s shores, the wealth’s all ours. And rest in the night.


FRANCISCO
How gaineth I or any honest man if merchants grow grand and lords grow greater still? How make my taper from another’s wax? If burgher move from house to manse93 with strongbox hid, or lord from manse to manor94, how’s my day the sweeter for it?


MARCELLUS
The mud before an earnest95 man’s house all passers share. Before puff-breast manse are cobbles96 on which all may tread. When a land be fat, the grease touches all.


[Horns in the distance]


BERNARDO
Hearest thou those horns far off? They have the sound of hunting horns, warm and mellow.


FRANCISCO
Aye, I hear them. But these are the horns of hunters of men, their warmth betokens the heat with which they will set upon whom they take, and their mellowness the peace to which they will send the life-ended Dane who flyeth97 not soon enow98 before them. ’Tis the Polish army thou hearest, soldiers of our king’s enemy king, servants of a different master, and so, fatal to us.


MARCELLUS
Liest we still here ’til we divine by their change where they lie and to what quarter they march, then fly away to another, martial birds of a different flock and feather, and so remain unplucked if we may.


BERNARDO
How know we whether these be friend or foe? They are too far to spy.


MARCELLUS
Let’s keep it so. Too far for us is eke for them. A kinder fate is his who flyeth friend than meeteth overstrong foe.

FRANCISCO


Fly them? Came we not here to fight?


MARCELLUS
Came we here to fight in a mass, and as we must. Who is brave singly and uncompelled is hero or fool, but no soldier. Let’s away and Denmark’s army seek. Those Poles are set to find it too.


[Exeunt]
Act II Scene 2 Mess Scene


[Winter, a Polish army mess camp near the Baltic. As the curtain opens COOK is working behind a long table covered with bowls and platters of food. At one end of the table is a huge iron caldron over a fire. Behind COOK and the serving table is a large military tent. WOJOHOWICZ and JARUZELSKI sit on benches at a mess table. LOOKOUT is on a wooden tower. He is peering off to stage right. Other POLISH SOLDIERS lounge about disconsolately.]

WOJOHOWICZ
Espy ye yet our company of foot?


LOOKOUT
Nay. I spy afar men numbered as a player’s cards, a handful. They are shrunk by distance and I cannot mark if they be our foragers come back with wood to press back the long wearying cold of day and dark of night.


WOJOHOWICZ
They’ll be here soon enow. Their bellies and noses will guide them to these vittles99 surer than their duty to the king will to battle.


JARUZELSKI
Why should they not? A man may take good pleasure in a well-roasted haunch, moist potatoes and cabbage piled high on his plate, dark red borscht100 in his bowl, and vodka to warm him. ‘Twere a strange man and no Christian ‘twould prefer to taste steel and feed it to another than to feast merrily with his friends.


LOOKOUT
These fellows are come near. I see the arms they bear, pikes and swords. They bear not wood. The rest I see not.


WOJOHOWICZ
Be they Poles?


LOOKOUT
I can neither see nor say. They are but men, frosted and a-shiver.


JARUZELSKI
How could they be but landsmen of our’n and soldiers of our king, royal Poland?


LOOKOUT
They are not dressed as we dress. They wear furs and doublets101.


JARUZELSKI
Then mayhap they are our Litvacker102 allies, brave stupid fellows, tho’ I would not they hear me speak them so.


WOJOHOWICZ
Litvack or Polack, let them be welcome e’en so, as they serve our king. [Turning back to Jaruzelski] A man’s duty is to his king as well as to his belly. Our duty is to the army’s belly.


JARUZELSKI
What honor is it to guard bales and carts? I would that I my duty were as warm for me as I for it and bear me somewhere warm and dry.


WOJOHOWICZ
No warm dry duty ours. Here stand we guard ‘gainst the Dane ‘pon this shore of snow and sand. Husband we victuals103 for the king’s power, the provision train, full of stuffs common enough at home midst field and farm but precious here remote midst desolation of ice and sorrows of war. ‘Tis humble duty, this our lot, guarding wagons and fodder safe for the king’s penny104.


LOOKOUT
They are nigh105.


WOJOHOWICZ
Cook, stir yourself. Nay, stir your pot. There are eaters come to sample your wares.


COOK
How wares!? If they were wares o’ mine then would I cull each man of his penny for his feed.  A rich man would I be, with land and title. The zhlub106i would call me ‘szlachta107 and shoes would I wear, even in summer.


WOJOHOWICZ
A gentlecook.


JARUZELSKI
Art thou sure they be friends not foe?


WOJOHOWICZ
Of course friends. Who but fools would wander into unfriendly camp, armed and militant to their hurt?


[Enter BERNARDO, FRANCISCO, REYNALDO, MARCELLUS and other DANISH SOLDIERS, led by LAERTES and OSRIC. They take bowls from the serving table and hold them out to COOK. COOK ladles out stew from the cauldron to each DANE. LAERTES holds out his bowl to COOK again.]


LAERTES
What’s this?


[OSRIC does the same]


OSRIC
Or this?


COOK
’Tis thy supper.


LAERTES
‘Tis but swill!


OSRIC
‘Tis feed for swine!


COOK
If ye say yourself so, so be it.


DANISH SOLDIERS
[clamoring] Muck! Dog’s vomit!


COOK
‘Tis better than e’er thou hadst in whate’er muddy, fly-ridden, pestilent, back-country village spawned thee.


LAERTES
Greasy scullion108!


COOK
Son of a weasel!


[POLISH SOLDIERS gather around, hoping for a fight.]


LAERTES
Give me proper feed and no more of these japes109 or I shall twist thy neck like a capon110 ere he’s plucked.


COOK
‘Tis three paces more than thou meritest. In separating from company and regiment, thou art removed as far from duty as from comrades.


LAERTES
Since thou thinkest this mess fine, so shall I adorn thee with it.


[Throws bowl and stew at COOK, hitting him full in the chest with it.]


COOK
Son of a Jew! [Lunges at LAERTES]


[DANISH SOLDIERS throw food at COOK as he grapples with LAERTES. POLISH SOLDIERS throw food at DANES and a general brawl ensues.]


SOLDIER1
Lout!


SOLDIER2
Cur!


SOLDIER3
Heathen of a Turk!


SOLDIER4
Son of a drab!


[LAERTES and COOK and others wrestle, smashing food in each other’s faces. The DANES start to get the worst of the fight. Most of them are down.]


[Burning wood from the fire is kicked against the mess tent which catches fire. Flames envelope the tent. More flames on left beyond the tent.]


JARUZELSKI and LOOKOUT
[Shouting] The hay!


[Exeunt left, running and shouting]

WOJOHOWICZ and COOK
[Shouting] The wagons!


[Exeunt left, running and shouting]


POLISH SOLDIERS
[Shouting] The hay! The wagons!
[Exeunt left, running and shouting]


[The DANES get up. LAERTES gestures to the others to follow. They pick up their arms.]


LAERTES
Humility’s lesson with fists and deeds,
Have now we wrought upon yon whoreson Swedes.


[Exeunt, stage right.]
Act II Scene 3.


[Enter POLES, armed, with horns, some in sleds]
[Enter DANES, armed, including KING HAMLET]
[They fight. The battle wavers. Horns and drums sound. Many fall on both sides. KING HAMLET, with beaver111 of his helmet up, frowning, smites sledded POLACKS on the ice.]
[Survivors, including KING HAMLET, limp away, in ones and twos.].


Act II Scene 4 After the Battle


[Enter KING HAMLET, Danish officers, including OSRIC, VOLTIMAND, and CORNELIUS]


VOLTIMAND
Long life and reign to thee, Majesty.


KING HAMLET
We thank thee for thy courtesy. How goes it with them?


VOLTIMAND
They fare as badly as we. Like us, they are mauled and fallen back upon their rear. The cries of the wounded from their camps as piteous as from ours.


KING HAMLET
Such broken plight these eyes have seen of army trod down in tanglefoot rout, defeated and unbannered, its morning’s illusions of honor, service, and victory, made vain mockery by come of darkness and of death. But now in both.


CORNELIUS
The prize, this ground, is all unguarded for each to seize. With broken hands, neither can.


KING HAMLET
’Tis a fabled death to die in shining victory, borne upon friends’ erst bloody, now polished shields. And in defeat, eulogy one hath, mourner’s black garment rent112, wailing for those who rise no more made larger by the general woe. But to die as these men have, for a waver113, for joint defeat? In this bloody ground froze hard as death, how even bury those who gained by their going only that the armies that needs must fight again, are less by their loss?


[enter FRANCISCO, dressed as a scout]


FRANCISCO
Glory and long life to thee most gracious sovereign.

KING HAMLET
We thank thee for thy courtesies. What news?


FRANCISCO
The Polish baggage train is afire, sire. Their water barrels, froze hard, avail them no more than would stones. They cannot appease the flames’ ravening hunger; it swalloweth up their stores.


[Enter BERNARDO, dressed as a scout]


BERNARDO
All hail, conquering king! Long life and good fortune to thee.


KING HAMLET
We thank thee for thy good wishes, but thou art too late. Thy brother scout hath already brought me news of good fortune.

BERNARDO
Then I bring you news of more, lord. The Pole’s spearpoint is blunted on Dansker steel and his sense dazed by blows until his eye sees double and his ear rings treble. The warlike Polish host now withdraws.


KING HAMLET
We thank thee gentlemen, both for thy warm news and for thy cold work. Warm thyselves as thou mayest with cup and bowl and fireside. ’Tis our royal command.


BERNARDO
None e’er so willingly obeyed royal master as we do thee in this, royal sire.


[Exeunt FRANCISCO and BERNARDO]


[Enter HERALD]


HERALD
Glorious majesty of Danes, the Polish king sends thee greetings.


KING HAMLET
Though he be adversary to our kingship, foe to our kingdom, and death to our subjects, yet do we gladly accept his greetings. Sends he aught114 else?


HERALD
Aye, majesty. The Polish king craves thou send men to him to parley115 upon terms.


KING HAMLET
Upon what terms, sir?


HERALD
He offers thee this province under thirty years truce an ye pursue not his army into snowy Poland.


KING HAMLET
[pauses] We will accept of these terms an they be done at once. In our battle-whetted fury we require brevity lest this be but ruse to lengthen our army’s chase after, as hound after broke-wing goose. We will send ambassadors. So tell my lord the king. And our wishes that he may live long.


HERALD
I will, my lord.


[Exit HERALD]
KING HAMLET
Is he gone?


OSRIC
He is, sire.


[KING HAMLET dances a jig. Then ALL dance in a circle, arms around each other’s shoulders, cheering and singing.


Act II Scene 5 The Feast


[A room in Castle Elsinore. The room has long tables and a dais116 with two thrones. Enter MUSICIANS. They begin to set up and tune their instruments. They play the first few bars of Beethoven’s Ninth where it sounds like the musicians are just tuning up.]

[Enter OSRIC and BASIL]


BASIL
Good eventide to you, my lord. I see thou and I are first of all the king’s guests to arrive. My compliments to thee for it. We shall be much admired for our promptness.


OSRIC
Aye, stints not the host, stint not the guest. Last to arrive should be least welcome, having offered least respect. I like not the guest who host’s generous hand repayeth with half measure of attendance, who cometh tardy117 to the fete. Disdaineth he not the kindness shown him?


BASIL
Sayeth thou alike of guest who giveth full measure and more of his presence and tarryeth118 late?


OSRIC
Nay, fie119 upon him! Let him unburden my hearth, away with him! Get him hence! Let him return to me sole enjoyment of my house!


[Enter LAERTES.]


OSRIC
Greetings, sir. How fine thy cape!


LAERTES
I and it thank thee for thy gracious praise. It is sewn of pelts of unborn otters, late of Finland.


BASIL
And the buckles of thy shoon120 are fine too, sir.


LAERTES
Thine eye is keen, good sir. Fine they are, being of silver fine, hammered of coins.


OSRIC
Say it is not so, sir.


LAERTES
Nay, fear me not, kind sir. ’Twas not the face of royal Denmark I smote. Late a ship o’ mine cargo of lutefisk121 sold upon the coast of France, and some upon the English shore. For its reviled richness, payment in silver hoard I had. ’Twas Charles the Hammer felt my blows, English pounds I beat.


BASIL
And so thy shoon shine. Most dainty, sir.


[Enter other guests, including VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS. They and those already on stage sit at long tables.]


[MUSICIANS play a flourish. Enter KING, QUEEN, and party, including 7 year old PRINCE HAMLET, and YORICK. KING goes to dais. GERTRUDE sits on throne.]


GERTRUDE
Come thou and sit with us, sweet prince, our little Hamlet.


[PRINCE HAMLET sits with her on throne.]


KING HAMLET
Dearly beloved, on this day one year ago, did Danish men and steely arms a signal victory win for love of kingdom and king.  Many here this day were there that day. I say ye to your faces there are those I honor more. Many who fought that day returned not. Them I honor more than ye, beloved friends. What is it to die for one’s country? To give one’s all, to have nothing, that others may have much? Is this wisdom? Why doth a man fight at all? Why strikes soldier at enemy soldier, surely a farmer’s boy as he himself, who has done him no wrong? Why gentleman officer slay officer gentleman whom he does not know? Why schemest titled general against noble general, stranger to him, to bring him to his ruin? Men fight not because they hate their foes, but because they love their friends. The victory benefitteth every Dane but those who those who fell in it, who paid most for it, ’Twas not for gain they faced the steel and fell, but for love. They loved their king, their kingdom, and their fellow soldiers. And those who fell, fell for that love. In the year since the victory, the strong feelings of battle have cooled in our breasts. But those who fell that day died in the flush of their love, loving us with feelings strong and deep. Their feelings have not died with them, but live. They love us still. I have not called ye ‘dearly beloved’ because I mistook ye for a wedding, but because ye are so.


’Tis awkward, is it not, to be so beloved still? The ripening peace hath turned our minds from battle and from war.  Raise we monuments to comrades we see no more, but these are soon become carved public stones to us, for pigeons to defile.  How bear their love?  We can requite122 their love but by loving whom they loved, carrying on the task cut short in them. Love ye one another. By your love, let Dane deal gently with Dane. Treat each his fellow not by the law, nor even by justice’s perfect sway, but be ye kind, as ye are kind with them ye love and that love ye. Thus may ye requite the love of these shades in whose shadows we dwell forevermore.


[An awkward silence. Everyone looks at one another wondering if the king is not touched in the head.]


YORICK
[stands, takes center stage, raises flagon of wine] Hurrah the king! Hurrah the honored dead! Hurrah for love!


ALL
[lamely, holding up their flagons] Hurrah!

[YORICK returns to his seat]

KING HAMLET
Let us now honor too the living. When Roman Scipio invaded Africa, drew Hannibal home and defeated him, a grateful senate honored him with the title of what he had won for his country. Scipio Africanus he became. So again when imperial Tiberius’ son avenged Rome upon the Rhine, so made him the senate thenceforth Germanicus. When the emperor Claudius’ toga’ed son made green England to be Roman – Britannicus was his name after. Honored and beloved lords and ladies, we here tonight are the king and peers assembled. Let us for this one night constitute ourselves the senate of Denmark. Say ye “Aye”.


[All say “Aye.”]


So be it. Let us honor the conqueror of Poland. Bring him forth.


[LAERTES is led to the dais.]


Kneel Laertes.
[LAERTES kneels.]
Here is Laertes, author of victory, champion of Denmark, savior of the realm, staff of the kingdom, destroyer of Polish wagons and fodder. Now therefore, I, these seven years Augustus Caesar of Denmark, and this my senate, do hereby declare thee no more Laertes. Be thou hereafter Polonius the Victor.


[Places wreath on POLONIUS’ head.]


Rise POLONIUS.


[POLONIUS rises. Tumult. Finally everyone is seated.]
[Enter troupe of DANCER and MUSICIANS. MUSICIANS play, DANCERS dance.]
[Everyone else eats, drinks. Enter SERVANTS bearing more food and drink. Talk and laughter from tables.]
[YORICK goes from table to table, setting each one aroar with laughter. PRINCE HAMLET goes to YORICK and kisses him. YORICK carries PRINCE HAMLET on his back.]


[At end of dance, exeunt DANCERS. Enter one or more SINGERS, who then sing.]
[Curtain.]
Act II Scene 6


[A room in the palace]


[enter VOLTIMAND, CORNELIUS, YORICK, PRINCE HAMLET, and several gentlemen. VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS stand apart.]


CORNELIUS
My good lord, how liked you the king’s feast yestereve?


VOLTIMAND
’Twas a fine night. Ne’er have I sat at fairer table with rarer dainties piled up. Niceties there were from all the world drawn, by subtle cook made subtle dish. Not as at Lord Scodby’s daughter’s wedding feast. There the food was good enough but plain. I had to eat a prodigious amount to have full pleasure from it. Not so the king’s feast. Served thus ambrosias and nectars, how could Denmark’s noblemen not feel themselves not Olympian but Norse gods, Aesir123 feasting in Valhalla, feasting and fighting in a doomed heaven until the world’s end?


CORNELIUS
Aye, but the rest, my lord, how liked thou the rest?


VOLTIMAND
The wines meanest thou? Such vintages were there as made me want to dance upon the tables would these old legs allow it. No nobler grape e’er bled for nobler cause than those which saved Denmark from want of drink yesternight. The very aristocracy of noble grapes. Nothing like those at my Lord Scodby’s daughter’s nuptial dinner. Scodby’s port made one think the port he meant was Marseilles – rude it was, with an insolent, turned-up nose. The second stein of it was no better, nor the third. I have not had him to table since. ’Twould be a waste of vintage to put it on a tongue so blind to flavor, deaf to aroma.


CORNELIUS
Aught else of the evening liked thou, my lord?


VOLTIMAND
Thou proddest me rightly. I have not spoken of the flashing feet of dancers nimble, most graceful like nymphs gamboling, so light their step, upon mists they trod, their feet unsullied by the boards. A great delight it was to me to see it, sir. Too the music and song were the best that have sweetened the air of Denmark since doughty124 Lord Scodby’s daughter’s wedding dinner.


CORNELIUS
Doughty lord or doughty daughter, my lord?


VOLTIMAND
Why both, good sir. Doughty he to afford and enforce such an entertainment, doughty she to endure it.


CORNELIUS
Aye, my lord, the food, the drink, the dance, the music. Liked thou aught else?


VOLTIMAND
Aught else? What else was there, sir?


CORNELIUS
The king’s speech, my lord. How liked you the king’s speech?


VOLTIMAND
Thou presseth me hard, my good sir, as a gnat that will not be shrugged off ‘til you have tasted the blood of my truth. The king hath left me agog125 and sore amaze. Love ye every man, saith he, as though he were Our Lord who gaveth His earthly life that we might be saved from sin. In the pure land, in Holy Israel, in the End of Days, then will each man love his fellow as himself, and nation no more raise up hand against nation, and all the prophecies be fulfilled. And so it shall be in heaven when we are all of us called home. But here in our daily Denmark, can it be so?


My maid turneth the beds, washeth the linen, maketh all tidy, and taketh for her pains tuppence126 in the week. I am pleased well enough with her in that, and she in me. Yet in truth I would not have her sup127 at my table, nor she me at hers. In what need am I of her love, or she in want of mine? Cannot she and I be as plough oxen in this field of life, bounded by nothingness, and each harrow128 our own furrow as best we can or will? Must we be conjointly yoked and share lives and fate whether we will or no? Must we love each the other though we have no mind to do it? Drag we not the plough of duty all our lives long? Is it not enough? I understand not the king’s mind in this. It troubleth me.


[YORICK, with PRINCE HAMLET, joins VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS. Other COURTIERS begin to join them.]


YORICK
’Twas ever thus. Man would have maid attend his bed, pay her tuppence for it, but love her not. Nor take her home to sup with kin. Alas a lass.
[Laughter.]
What is it to love another? What see ye now of whom men love? A man loveth his wife, doth he not? Or, betimes wish that he could.
[Laughter.]
So giveth he her home, furnishings, finery, whate’er his purse will allow, so that her pride shall be his. An he wax129 great, so she ride a carriage. An he please fortune, she may sport rubies that her neighbors may envy her. His fortunes are hers, his purse is hers.
[pause]
A man loveth his son. All in due time he die and give not only purse but lands broad and building fair to him he loveth. So it must be. Land and son endureth, man endureth not. So giveth a man his son what best he treasureth, for he loves him. An he treasureth learning, so he teacheth him. An he treasureth character, he instructs him and chastiseth his waywardness. An he treasureth honor, so he set him his own example.
[general assent]
His daughter too a man loveth. He giveth her his purse for her dower130. He giveth her not lands but his very arm with which he leadeth her down the aisle to another man’s love, purse, and lands.
[Laughter.]
So a man loveth G_d, he giveth his heart, his whole heart, his very heart. An a man but say he loveth G_d, so he giveth service e’en of both his lips.
[Laughter.]
Whom a man loveth he giveth his purse, his house, his counsel, his lands, his arm, and his heart. Shall he give so much to every Dane, as the king saith131? What then will he give the next he loveth of Danes, having given all to the first?
[Laughter.]
If the Dane thou meet be richer than thee, or like my Lord Scodby, richer than all.
[Laughter.]
what need he thy poor purse, thy plain house, thy small land?
[Laughter.]
If wiser, what need he of thine ignorant counsel?
[Laughter.]
So to love one another were to have all in common with every man – purse, house, lands, e’en wives, children, kindred. A rule of kindness and love, not of law and duty would make all precedent and precedence be forgot. ’Tis what every gentleman, like my most dear Lord Voltimand, most praiseth on Sunday, so anarchy he fear the other six days.
[Laughter.]
Our master the king is no fool. He loveth ye, but his palace rests his. His pearled crown he wears and not ye. And so it should be, for there is room within its span for but one brow, and that one is his. What meaneth then love, an it be not the love man bears for wife and kindred? Why it is to smile.
[Laughter.]
May not a man smile and smile and love not?


Remember ye in the late war, when fight was done, the ransoming of prisoners? Each prisoner of one was ransom for prisoner of ’tother, Pole for Dane, Dane for Pole, gold for the difference. Among our captives were some peddlers, followers of the Polish army, Jews who sold spices for the plain army fare, paper for those who could write on it, thread to mend breeches132, and other such trifles. For these the Polish parleymen would give no ransom, neither of Dane nor of gold. ’Twere Poland’s gain an we kept them, said they. Whilst Danes pressed and Poles refused, so weary months passed they captive in our camp. One of them, Isaac was he named for patriarch of eld133, from his trade some words of our tongue could speak. Betimes we drank together, this unbaptized and I, though he drank but little. I, generous Christian, made up his deficiency for him.
[Laughter.]
Much we spoke. So strange and un-Christian are his folk that they honor not our Golden Rule. To do unto others as thou wouldst them do unto you, is not their law.


VOLTIMAND
So it is that their neighbors love them not.
[Laughter.]


YORICK
Aye, the Jews are used ill134 by Christian and Moor alike. They have it of an ancient sage135, all the law that may be said whilst one standeth upon one foot. It is this, “Do not unto others what is hateful to thee.”


CORNELIUS
It is the same, sir.


YORICK
Nay, sir. I beg leave to be of different mind. Our rule is, an thou envy thy neighbor’s house, give him thine. Our dearest Lord Voltimand may declare it on Sunday but will not sign the deed on Monday.
[Laughter.]
No man will. So each remains in his house and the rule lives out of doors.
[Laughter.]
The Hebrew law is if thou wouldst thy neighbor break not thy window, break not his. ’Tis a smaller law, but one ’twill fit through thy door that it may live with thee. Is it not so, sweet prince?


PRINCE HAMLET
E’en so. It is as my father saith. He hath forbid me to throw stones upon windows for sport.
[Laughter.]


YORICK
E’en so. E’en so, sweet prince. [Kisses PRINCE HAMLET.]


CORNELIUS
Still, sir, though the letter differs, the matter’s the same, is it not? Each lives in his own house.


YORICK
I think it not so, my lord. Our rule will not be the law men live by ’til Kingdom come and the world end. In this world and in these days, it is no rule. It is the wish of a rule. In this world it is not golden but tinsel, for it has the lustre of noble metal but not the substance. Every man saith, none doeth. Jewry’s law is less, yet more. Leave thy neighbor in peace. Harm him not. This a man may do, even on a Monday, even in Denmark.
[Laughter.]


VOLTIMAND
It is a paradox, sir, that heathen sage should pose better law and sense than Holy Writ, the teaching of Our Lord? It is a riddle thou poseth, surely. Show us how unpick136 the puzzle, sir.


YORICK
I know not how, my lord. Both ancient sage and Our Lord were alike sons of Holy Israel. Mayhap they had league between them137 and did it for a jest. ’Tis beyond my ken.
[Laughter.]


PRINCE HAMLET
May not each unto the other be kind?

YORICK
Had the breeze off each soul’s ocean but a waft of the soft warmth of which thine overflows, gentle heir of Denmark, so would we all. When thou art king, a man’s age hence, an thy soul’s yet as sweet, mayhap thou shalt make it so. [Kisses PRINCE HAMLET.]


PRINCE HAMLET
What befell poor Isaac?


YORICK
In the end the king would have him and his brethren no more upon our charge and set them to wander in the world as they could.


PRINCE HAMLET
Where went the wandering Jew?


YORICK
I know not of the others, but Isaac turned his steps to that Poland that loved him not.


PRINCE HAMLET
But why? If Poland loved him not, why went he there?


YORICK
For love. He hath wife, and a child like thee. For them all his pains138.


CORNELIUS
To live for love is not as his sage taught.


YORICK
Aye, he did better than he taught.


VOLTIMAND
Denmark’s the better for his quitting139 it.


YORICK
{With visible irritation and malice] Saw ye gentlemen my Lord Voltimand at Lord Scodby’s daughter’s nuptial feast? [Coughs. Chokes.] Excuse me. [Coughs, chokes again.] Excuse me. He danced so.


[A pipe is played by a MUSICIAN. YORICK does a jig. He and PRINCE HAMLET dance in circles around each other.]


So he ate. [Stuffs his mouth with food. Coughs violently. Begins to choke.]


[Laughter.]


VOLTIMAND
Anon140, sirs.


[Exit VOLTIMAND.]


CORNELIUS
’Tis but in jest, my lord. Take it not so.


[Exit CORNELIUS.]


YORICK
[choking and laughing] And so he drank. [Attempts to drink.]
[Laughter.]
[YORICK falls.]


PRINCE HAMLET
My lords, he cannot breathe. Pray141 assist him.


1ST GENTLEMAN
Nay, nay, gentle prince. He but jests.


PRINCE HAMLET
I pray thee, my lords, assist him. I cannot raise him. He breathes not.


2ND GENTLEMAN
Nay, sweet child.’Tis all in fun. And so to dine.


3RD GENTLEMAN
And drink.


[Exeunt GENTLEMEN.]


PRINCE HAMLET
Pure true friend. Leave me not here in this cold world alone.


YORICK
[croaking] Good night, sweet prince. [dies.]


[Curtain]
Act III, Scene 1 Twenty-two Years Later


[A room in the palace]


PRINCE HAMLET
Hath the king read the letter?


HORATIO
He hath, my prince.


PRINCE HAMLET
How showed he himself?


HORATIO
He was much in wrath, my lord. The furniture he beat, and threw a great clock.


PRINCE HAMLET
A clock?


HORATIO
Aye, my lord. It was a clock bejewelled with rubies and sapphires each the size of a nut, peopled by figures of Amour and Hymen of gold, set in frame of ivory and lapis. It was methinks, monstrous heavy. His majesty heaved it across his royal hall such that where it fell every gem and golden godling of it fled the wreck of its untimely fortune.


PRINCE HAMLET
Wherein had the clock crossed him that he used142 it so?


HORATIO
‘Twas a French clock, prince, a gift of King Philippe Auguste, a betrothal143 gift given when the queen’s younger sister, thy aunt Ingeburge, was promised to him.


PRINCE HAMLET
Aye, I see. When the king read the king’s letter, the clock’s time was up.


HORATIO
Its hour was struck.


PRINCE HAMLET
Who called he for, a clockmaker?


HORATIO
Nay, a stableboy with a broom to sweep away the precious rubbish.


PRINCE HAMLET
And whom else?


HORATIO
Counsellor Polonius, Sir Melchior, the Earl of Jutland, Lord Balthazzar, and thee, my prince. And my lord Polonius’ son, Laertes.


PRINCE HAMLET
None but Laertes lords martial. So he thinks not yet to ravage again Dieppe and Calais as of old, to force ships and armed men into the unwilling mouths of French rivers as physic of sword and fire to purge out this unkind king. Yet he summons too Laertes, not one to discuss but to act. For what hour summons he us?


HORATIO
This one, my lord.


[Enter LAERTES]


PRINCE HAMLET
Hail, cuz144. Bend thee not thy path and turn thy feet towards his majesty the king, my royal father? His summons to us hangs hot upon the air.


LAERTES
Hail, prince. Though I be not as thou art, throne’s heir-presumptive, still I share thy honor, for our king is father to all Danes. I go not to his majesty the king because I come from him. I am sent ambassador to France to politely beg their king to free his queen, our queen’s sister, from that stone keep where now she’s kept.


PRINCE HAMLET
The king, my father, politely beg? You are mistaken, sir.


LAERTES
I go with escort of fifty ships and two thousand picked men, clad in steel, bearing steel.


PRINCE HAMLET
[pauses] So begs Denmark. With such escort thou wilt be safer than whom ye meet. Farewell, cuz.


LAERTES
Farewell, prince.


PRINCE HAMLET
I’ll hie145 to him now.


[exeunt, in opposite directions]
Act III Scene 2


[a room in POLONIUS’ house]


[enter PRINCE HAMLET and REYNALDO from opposite doors]


PRINCE HAMLET
Good sir, I have business with thy master, Councillor Polonius. Is he at home?


REYNALDO
I know not, my lord. I shall seek him. Shall I say which gentleman attends him?


PRINCE HAMLET
I am honored thou thinkst me so. I see thou hast found new employment, Reynaldo.


REYNALDO
Aye, my lord. Since the old king’s death I have shared the wonders of this house.

[Exit REYNALDO]


[Enter OPHELIA]


OPHELIA [shouting]
Pom! Pom!


PRINCE HAMLET
Madame….


OPHELIA
Pom! Pom!


PRINCE HAMLET
Madame?


OPHELIA
I pray you kind gentleman, assist me. Help me find my Pom.


PRINCE HAMLET
What is Pom, my lady? Thy doll perhaps?


OPHELIA
What need I of thy help, kind sir, to find a poppet that lieth where left?


PRINCE HAMLET
Pom is…?


[Cries from off] Pom is loose! Pom is loose!

OPHELIA
My pet. Please sir, help me look for him. Thy hand is strong and warm, sir. Mayhaps so too is thy heart. Wouldst thou search in those rooms there whilst I search in these?


PRINCE HAMLET
I attend my lord Polonius with letters of state, Madame.


OPHELIA
All the more shouldst thou then seek with me my dear lovely sir, for my father will not come to thee ‘til Pom is found.


PRINCE HAMLET
Thy father…? What manner of being be Pom, my lady, so to hold state at bay?


OPHELIA
My pooch is but a pup, a cub. He bayeth not, but is bayed at.


[enter POM, a large bear, possibly white. Prince Hamlet startles, shrinks back, grips the hilt of his sword but does not draw.]


POM
Grrroowwwlll.


OPHELIA
My pretty Pom! My soul! My self! My imp! Let me kiss and pet thee and chuck thy chin. Come to my chamber where I’ll roll thee on thy back and rub thy belly for thy pleasure and feed thee dainty sweetmeats, Come.


[to PRINCE HAMLET] Anon, kind sir. I thank thee for thy not-yet ministrations and helps to find what is nearest to my heart.


PRINCE HAMLET
Madame, I ….


POM
Grrrrrr.


OPHELIA
Adieu, sweet sir.


[Exeunt OPHELIA and POM]


[Enter POLONIUS]


POLONIUS
Good my prince, I humbly beg a thousand times thy pardon ‘til knees wear out with entreaty146, to be so roughly greeted by daughter’s whimsy beast. A gypsy had it dance in the marketplace for pennies tossed by the multitude, the money of the many. Ophelia thought it ill-used so to dance for another’s pleasure than its own, and gave her purse uncounted for it.


PRINCE HAMLET
Was not the Egyptian so undone of his livelihood by the fair lady, e’en with the purse, my lord?


POLONIUS
Nay. He vowed himself bent for Sweden’s wilds and forests dark to hunt another.


PRINCE HAMLET
The wolves there will hunt him for their meat, the hunter hunted. A strange fate, for one born by Nile’s waters, fled from stone gaze of lion-pawed sphinx, to bear hungry gaze of timber wolves in snowy waste. So life leads us by the way, each step logical, almost reasonable, insensibly we follow. Until we look back and put end by end, desert palm by snowy fir, immeasurable and impossible the gulf unthinking crossed.


POLONIUS
Aye, wanderers all. You bear letters from his majesty, your father, and my master?


PRINCE HAMLET
Two, my lord. From Rome and from Poland.


POLONIUS
I have not my reading crystal about me to aid my aged squint. An thou would, my prince, tell me their matter147.


PRINCE HAMLET
From Rome first or from Poland?


POLONIUS
First the better news, then the worse.


PRINCE HAMLET
The pope hath granted our ambassadors’ patient suit against King Philippe Auguste. The holy father of Christendom hath believed my aunt Ingeburge’s oaths and not King Philippe’s. She swore that he had untied her maiden’s knot148 on their bridal night and so made their marriage holy and consummate. She is wife to King Philippe and Queen of France, whether her husband-king will it or no. Church, not king and pliant nobles, shall deem whether marriage sacrament be bond or not, saith the pontiff. Philippe Auguste, though he tower over France, in Rome looks small.


POLONIUS
‘Tis but the first storm of a long and bruising winter. Great kings brook not check ‘til all be lost. And else?

PRINCE HAMLET
Poland’s king seeks undo the truce his father swore, granting us the Baltic strand thou, my lord Polonius, by thine own hand wrenched from Poland’s grip, though seven years are left to run.


POLONIUS
Incautious cub! This new Polish king hath youth’s common rashness, born of want of memory. He summons not at memory’s hest149 sights of blood on snow, and stone-hard corpses piled unburied on hard-stone earth. He sees not men’s remains turned to ice in final postures of dumbshow150 enactment of their battle deaths. This cold devourer of men he would loose upon us again. He hurries toward it. The education of kings is bought with lives.


PRINCE HAMLET
Thou wouldst not have us yield?


POLONIUS
Nay, my prince. We’ll find means to dissuade or overawe. Truce’s end meaneth but that peace is o’er, not that war resumes. Our and their spears blunted by long peace, we by parley yet may resolve our quarrel long.


PRINCE HAMLET
Methinks I have a dear errand to attend. And so my lord I’ll bid thee adieu151 until business and bent152 bring me here again.


POLONIUS
Farewell, my prince.


[Exeunt].

Act III, Scene 3


[a room in the palace]


[Enter PRINCE HAMLET and HORATIO]


PRINCE HAMLET
Kind dear Horatio, tell me truly, what is it bears fancy153?


HORATIO
Why anything, my prince. Fancy pries behind the clouds, wonders what G_d was doing before He created the universe, speculates what’s in the soup. All things bear fancy.


PRINCE HAMLET
A pretty turn. My fancy turns to bears, his too fancy to be borne.


HORATIO
Though plaguest154 me with words and riddles. Speak plain.


PRINCE HAMLET
I spoke plain. And thou heard plain, but something else.


HORATIO
I know the something I heard. What was the else thou spoke?


PRINCE HAMLET
Bears, Horatio. I would a something to please a bear and amuse its mistress.


HORATIO
‘Twas more plain when we spake of else and something.


PRINCE HAMLET
I know a rose that hath a bear, a crimson rose.


HORATIO
The bear hath arose? From its winter sleep?


PRINCE HAMLET
Nay, sweet Horatio. ‘Tis I that arise from a long sleep.


HORATIO
Methinks I begin to see gropingly by odd glints of thy new moon’s no-light. Hast thou fallen in with some rich burgher’s155 laced and spangled daughter? She thinks thee but a captain, not knowing that thou art second only to him who’s captain of all Denmark? Or hast thou stolen away with cottager’s rosy daughter under cloak of seeming but a soldier plain, omitting from your spun tale that thy soldierly rank is general?


PRINCE HAMLET
Nay, Horatio, it is none of that. ‘Tis not I who tinker with maid’s feelings for my amusement, but mine that are dealt like cards.


[enter OPHELIA, unseen. She conceals herself.]


HORATIO
Thou art enamored of a bear? ‘Tis a wise choice. If thou winnest her favors thou mayst lie abed with her all the winter long.


PRINCE HAMLET
I am undone at a blow, like a man hale and well suddenly pierced through with a lance.


HORATIO
She must have no end of appetite for shagging156, being everywhere and always shaggy. Better and better.


PRINCE HAMLET
My mind is like a house turned on its side, furniture overturned, windows broken, all things and thoughts spilled from their proper place.


HORATIO
And none can match a bear for the firmness and ardor of her embrace. Thou shalt not doubt the sincerity of such a hug, an thou survive it.


PRINCE HAMLET
Other maidens appear as stars calm and constant, their chief charm is but that they twinkle. She is a great comet sweeping a blazing orbit across my heaven, full of portent157, scattering the constellated158 stars of my fate like the dancing sparks above a fire.


HORATIO
One need never lack for one to stand up with, for none dances more prettily than a bear.


PRINCE HAMLET
Wilt thou never leave off?


HORATIO
And ‘tis a thrifty match. Thou needst buy thy love no better coat than she hath already.


PRINCE HAMLET
I’ll bear this farde159l away.


[exit PRINCE HAMLET]

HORATIO
Aye, I leave off, for what he suffers is past all bearing.


[exit HORATIO. OPHELIA emerges]


OPHELIA
He loves Pom? How can this be? I can but wonder at it. [rest of speech is progressively more impassioned, rising to hints of madness] Do I make too much of this youth? Mistake my bursting soul for his glory? Other lads are as buds bursting with sweetness and beauty of spring, he is a burning bush in my desert, from which my love speaks forth to command my soul. Love is a humour such that happy lass is love-sick for her Romeo. Poor Ophelia has a plague of love, flesh-devouring, blood-churning, bone-twisting. Why such pith and moment160 from such slight origins? A graceful careless young man waiting for my father, a gentleman seen across a ballroom, noble, light, and radiant in his velvets, a visit at court – [with gentle saracasm] “If it please my lady”, “I am honored, mademoiselle,”, “You are too kind, madame.” [pause] Is this argument161? Is it meaning? Yet from these light marks a sketch of a soul appears, as a mark so and so [makes the sign of the cross] portends the salvation of the world. So is his manner and form impressed on my inward eye as the watched sun dazzles a green worm upon the outward, so that it rides before one and the eye can see naught else.  It is a love which wracks nature. My once-ordered soul is as a countryside undone by war, its walls of accustomed use broke down, its burghers vagrants, the cake of custom broke and trod upon. How live? How breathe? How find life? How find respite from these tumults in my breast? Not winds making tousle of my tresses and fly the strings of my bonnet, but unnatural tempest to lash great trees ‘til they shiver apart and crash down on wight162 as fondly163 sought protection under sheltering bough164. Not smiling rains upon the cheered face of the land, but berserker165-eyed storm G_d drowning all not fled to calmer ground, wight made broken corpse to wash down to restless sea. ‘Tis not a gentle love, ‘tis a love too much, ill-advised, not a love of maid for youth but of she-beast for he-beast, monstrous, devouring, sensate and to be marvelled at. The sudden love of others is as a summer lightning that brightens night and roars thunder on the slow count of nine. Our love’s approach comes with hair standing straight upon head, then world-engulfing blow-shock deafness, eyes dazzled blind, thrown down, not yet gasping, porch shivered to smoking sticks. So falls this tender love upon me. How live without thee or with?  I bear not this love in my breast, it bears me in its. I can but wonder, wander, and pine -- and plot to make him mine.


[exit OPHELIA]
ACT IV Scene 1


[a room in Castle Elsinore]
[enter MATTATHIAS and SCANDBERG]


MATTATHIAS
I’ll not sit for it, but rise up and stand against this pretend king, his hateful decrees and unjust laws.


SCANDBERG
Peace, brother Mattathias. In what are you wronged by the regency?


MATTATHIAS
Brother? No more am I thy brother. Thy sister, my wife, being second wife, is made no wife at all. This pretend king hath made her an harlot and my children with her bastards, no more lawful heirs of my property, line, and blood. This momentary king makes such laws as break down custom, rip lawful ties between man and woman, man and child, between man and man. All are rent.


[HAEBØRG enters as MATTATHIAS is speaking]


HAEBØRG
It is the pope’s rent, to him is it paid.


MATTATHIAS
What of the devil hath the pope to do with my wife unwifed, my boys disinherited, and my lord Scandberg unbrothered?


HAEBØRG
Mark me in this. Our queen’s sister Ingeburge became Queen of France when King Philippe Auguste took her to wife.


SCANDBERG
And gave our king the famed flying clock in token.


HAEBØRG
Aye. Ingeburge keeps her crown upon her head and her head upon her neck because the pope releaseth not King Philippe of his vow of marriage. And the pope saith [pretending to be pope] “Sacrament of marriage but by sacrament of unction166 be undone.” ‘Til death do us part.


MATTATHIAS
But what harm then in second sacrament and second wife?


HAEBØRG
[still pretending to be pope] Adam had but Eve, and Eve but Adam.


MATTATHIAS
But the patriarchs and kings in the Holy Bible took unto them more than a single wife.


HAEBØRG
[still pope] They were but Jews from whom we are not descended. Adam and Eve contained all men. From them are Christians sprung.


MATTATHIAS
Many here set yet store in the old gods and their ways. When King Cnut brought upon us these new gods, the old gods he forced not from our love.


HAEBØRG
[still pope] – One can bend hearts to the light with a kind word, but yet more with a kind word and a sword.


MATTATHIAS
Aye and soon it comes to that – to swords – to bend or break the heart of this pretend king lest he break ours.


SCANDBERG
If the pope resist the might and gold of France that Philippe take no second wife, how let you?


MATTATHIAS
‘Tis a good and fair question. When I become pope it will concern me mightily. ‘Til then it is the pope’s business and none of mine. My study is to get back my wife as my wife and my sons as my sons and to have an end to this knavish brother the king hath made regent while he absents himself to these fresh Polish wars.


SCANDBERG
The pope denied all Christian burial to France to give his will sway. Would he do less to us?


MATTATHIAS
What care I for burial rite? My sire and his and his before him, beyond memory, left for the Abode of the Gods in red-sailed dragon ship afire. What honor is’t to buried in muddy hole like an onion?


[exeunt]


Act IV Scene 2


[The great hall in Castle Elsinore]


[CLAUDIUS seated on the throne, on a dais. He is holding a sheaf of papers. GERTRUDE sits on a throne next to him. Lords are gathered at the foot of the dais. Young YORICK is among the lords. PRINCE HAMLET and HORATIO are drinking at a table toward the side of the stage.]


CLAUDIUS
Nay my lords, your petition is a seed fallen on barren ground. It grows but as a weed that, like your petition, has many dry leaves but no fruit. As we are all now Christians and none heathens, so each husband shall have but one wife and that wife but one husband. Thus commands the pope – that Ingeburge, daughter of Old Denmark, sister of our Queen Gertrude, being the Christian wife of King Philippe, is Queen of France. None but her flesh shall be dauphin167, none but a Dane shall herit France, none but a race of Danes shall rule there. As Danes would rule France, so we must rule ourselves. No man nor woman nor priest shall celebrate any but Christian marriage here, and none but fruit of such shall herit lands or titles or goods of his sire. ‘Tis a small thing for Wotan’s brides and kind to suffer. ‘Tis softer fate than when France’s king rebelled and pope denied all sacrament, aye, even of Christian burial. The maggotted dead cumbered the land ‘til crowned head bowed to mitre’d pate168.


PRINCE HAMLET
[aside to his friends] With a swinging scepter so to wag, I’d let no dry-rod Roman priest make love a sin. Let a Dane make merry with such lady as will have him.


[laughter.]


CLAUDIUS
What laughter is that? Doth the dun-clad prince make merry at last? The royal heir laughs not enough. It is then to our purpose to make us a fool. Come Yorick, son of Yorick, before us and know our royal pleasure.


[YORICK comes before CLAUDIUS.]


We would thou wore the sash thy father wore.


[Puts sash on YORICK. Taps him with jesters staff.]


I dub thee Fool.


[Crowns him with belled jester’s cap.]


CLAUDIUS, cont’d
I crown thee National Wag, Prince of Wits, and Wit of Princes. I appoint thee Lord of Mirth and anoint169 thee Mocker-General of the Realm. With thine office thou shalt comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.


YORICK
And, in a jolly way, speak truth to power.


[Exeunt.].
Act V, scene 1 Claudius and Urizen

[CLAUDIUS kneeling as if in prayer. URIZEN may be a voice off or appear as a sprite lounging onstage. He is half Puck, half demon. He is invisible to CLAUDIUS.]


CLAUDIUS
Art there?


URIZEN
An thou wilt.


CLAUDIUS
Art thou Urizen today? Or be thou Claudian now?


URIZEN
Urizen.
.


CLAUDIUS
I am undone.


URIZEN
Aye. Thou shalt die.


CLAUDIUS
All men die.


URIZEN
Aye.


CLAUDIUS
Put that aside. I have lusted after my brother’s wife.


URIZEN
And she after thee.


CLAUDIUS
Thou knowest of this?

URIZEN
Flesh sees but with eyes fixed in one place and one time and so sees but little. We see more.


CLAUDIUS
What shall I do?


URIZEN
Thou shalt do as thou wilt.


CLAUDIUS
But what will that be?


URIZEN
Thou knowest. Thou hast done it already – except the act.

CLAUDIUS
Aye.


URIZEN
What wouldst thou of me?


CLAUDIUS
My flesh calls out for her. I cannot sleep for longing. When I do sleep my dreams are filled with her. I scarce know what I do or what I am about for my distracted thoughts. Though in the middle of my life I am as a downy-lipped youth for a new-blooming maid. How shall I live and bear this wanting?


URIZEN
Thou knowest.


CLAUDIUS
Aye. We shall make a private wedding, a joining of our parts, hers and mine.


URIZEN
She burns as you burn. But she fears her husband.


CLAUDIUS
All Europe fears my brother. He is the scourge of Poland, England pays him tribute, the Isles are his, he ravages France in revenge of Gertrude’s sister, the trade of Russia and the Baltic is in his hand. He rules by trade and the sword, by gold and steel.


URIZEN
Feared ye not his wrath when first ye thought to bed his wife?


CLAUDIUS
What more can he do but kill me?


URIZEN
Much more.


CLAUDIUS
Aye, more. [pauses. Reflects.] In silence then shall be our redoubt. This shall be our future as it has been our past. He rules over camp and army and but reigns in Denmark. Here I rule regent over his state and its parts and soon over his queen and her parts. Of both possession I have, his but bare title.


URIZEN
In trust.


CLAUDIUS
And over her too he shall but reign. My rule shall be throne and corpus and his the crown and husband, but the wraith and right. None but us twain shall know of it.


URIZEN
Passion and caution lie not long in the same breast.


CLAUDIUS
The pomp of state and the iron rod of rule are mine. Every woman in Denmark could I have by smiles or force or preferment170 of her husband. In all Denmark only one is forbidden – this one. Why must I …?


URIZEN
Only one fruit in the Garden was forbidden.


CLAUDIUS
And from it flows all man’s woes.


URIZEN
Nay, from the eating of it.


CLAUDIUS
We’ll go away. I’ll take her and fly to the western lands beyond the Western Isles.


URIZEN
Thou art king in Denmark in all but right. Wilt thou live in a hut and fear the skraelings171 and hunt the white bear for thy meat? And he thee for his?


CLAUDIUS
I am afeard172. I tremble. My soul tries every moment to leap out my throat, to leave me behind.


URIZEN
Leave thee?


CLAUDIUS
Afeard of all….


URIZEN
Or of one?


CLAUDIUS
Aye, of one.

URIZEN
What wilt thou do?


CLAUDIUS
[pauses] What I must.


URIZEN
Can thy soul bear fardel weight of brotherly blood?


CLAUDIUS
An he discover my treason his soul shall bend under weight of mine. A brother shall die.


URIZEN
Should the brother die be he who is wronged? Wilt thou not be keeper of thy brother? Or thy brother’s wife?


CLAUDIUS
Is the right worth my life?


URIZEN
Or thy passion worth his?


CLAUDIUS
I cannot answer.


URIZEN
He thought the kingdom worth his life and repented of it when it was his.


CLAUDIUS
How shall I strike the blow?


[silence]


CLAUDIUS
[in terror] How shall I strike the blow? Speak more. Hello? [listens] Hello? I am undone. I am doomed to horrors an I stay my hand. Doomed in eternity else.


[curtain]
Act V, Scene 2 Claudius and Gertrude


[A room in Castle Elsinore]


[Enter from opposite directions CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE]


CLAUDIUS
Good morrow173 your majesty.


GERTRUDE
And to thee my lord prince-regent.


CLAUDIUS
Nay call me not so. ‘Tis a cold title, redolent of rank and empire. So may a servant, a minister, an enemy king, call me. It breathes not love.


GERTRUDE
What name wouldst thou of me?


CLAUDIUS
Am I not thy brother? Those vows that late made thee one flesh with my brother the king, have made thee too one flesh with his kin, of whom I am chief and elder. O let us not be a queen and a regent, still figures in a tapestry, but be to ourselves alive, smiling, warm to touch.


GERTRUDE
Aye. With my lord king so much absent at his wars and court I feel myself a painted stick upon the which to drape the robes imperial, stiff and heavy with pomps of cloth of gold, sewn jewels, precious ermine. The protocols and honors of court and state are to me but recited, dusty words. It is as another spake174 them and I but heard. I had rather be a chesspiece queen, having such direction as I will, taking whom I please, puissant, free.


CLAUDIUS
[aside] And like chessboard queen, a piece ever at peril.
[to GERTRUDE] Are there not liberties kin may take that in another would be insolence, but in a brother affection?
[kisses her on the mouth]


GERTRUDE
But is it right to be so familiar?


CLAUDIUS
Thine answer is in thy question. To be family is to be familiar.
[kisses her again]

GERTRUDE
Is it proper so to kiss?


CLAUDIUS
Are not thy two lips proper to one another? May not my lips, made of thy flesh, touch thine as properly as thine touch each the other? One flesh press its like?
[kisses her; gropes her]


GERTRUDE
[responsive to CLAUDIUS’ advances] But if some tale of our sisterly love reach king’s ears?


CLAUDIUS
What none see, none can attest175.


[They conceal themselves onstage or go to wing.]


CLAUDIUS
Thou art no painted stick. Thy colors are real.


[Pause. Jester’s bells are heard offstage.]


CLAUDIUS
Hear thee the jester’s bells? Belike he hath discovered our sport. An if he recount, the bells toll for me. I’ll make converse with the fellow.


[exit CLAUDIUS in direction of bells. Here the director may interpret how much has transpired in the concealment. CLAUDIUS may be fully dressed, partly dressed, or in a thin night-shirt.]


GERTRUDE
Alas! Alack! I am found out! Undone!
[exit GERTRUDE, similarly dressed.]


[Violent prolonged intermittent shaking of bells; noises off]


[enter CLAUDIUS, disheveled]


CLAUDIUS
I have had his breath of him. ‘Tis a comic who hath died a-stage a last time. What care I? ‘Tis mere murder.
[exit CLAUDIUS, curtain.]
Act V, Scene 3, the murder


[King Hamlet and Gertrude are already on stage]
KING HAMLET
Full thirty times hath Phoebus’176 cart gone round
Neptune’s salt wash177, and Tellus’178 orbed ground,
And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen
About the world have times twelve thirties been,
Since love our hearts and Hymen179 did our hands
Unite commutual in most sacred bands.


GERTRUDE
So many journeys may the sun and moon
Make us again count o’er ere love be done!
But woe is me, you are so sick of late,
So far from cheer, and from your former state,
That I distrust you. Yet though I distrust,
Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must.
For women fear too much, even as they love,
And women’s fear and love hold quantity,
In neither aught, or in extremity.
Now what my love hath proof has made you know,
And as my love is sized, my fear is so.
Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fears,
Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.


KING HAMLET
Faith, I must leave thee love, and shortly too.
My operant powers their functions leave to do,
And thou shalt live in this fair world behind,
Honoured, beloved, and haply one as kind,
For husband shalt thou--


GERTRUDE
O, confound the rest!
Such love must be treason in my breast,
In second husband let me be accurst,
None wed the second, but who killed the first.
The instances that second marriage move
Are base respects of thrift, but none of love.
A second time I kill my husband dead,
When second husband kisses me in bed.


KING HAMLET
I do believe what now you speak,
But what we do determine, oft we break.
Purpose is but the slave to memory,
Of violent birth but poor validity,
Which now like fruit unripe sticks on the tree,


But fall unshaken when they mellow be.
Most necessary ‘tis that we forget,
To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt.
What to ourselves in passion we propose,
The passion ending, doth the purpose lose.
The violence of either grief or joy
Their own enactures180 with themselves destroy,
Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament,
Grief joys, joy grieves, on slender accident181.
This world is not for aye, nor ‘tis not strange
That even our loves should with our fortunes change:
For ‘tis a question left us yet to prove,
Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love.
The great man down, you mark his favorite flies,
The poor advanced makes friends of enemies,
And hitherto doth love on fortune tend,
For who naught needs shall never lack a friend,
And who in want a hollow friend doth try,
Directly seasons him his enemy.
But orderly to end where I begun,
Our wills and fates do so contrary run,
That our devices still are overthrown,
Our thoughts are ours, our ends none of our own—
So think thou wilt no second husband wed,
But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.


GERTRUDE
Nor earth to me give food nor heaven light,
Sport and repose lock from me day and night,
To desperation turn my trust and hope,
An anchor’s cheere in prison be my scope,
Each opposite that blanks the face of joy
Meet what I would have well and it destroy,
Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife,
If ever once a widow, ever I be wife.


KING HAMLET
‘Tis deeply sworn. Sweet leave me here awhile,
My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguile
The tedious day with sleep.
[he sleeps]

GERTRUDE
Sleep rock thy brain,
And never come mischance between us twain!


[exit GERTRUDE]


[enter CLAUDIUS with a vial in his hands]


CLAUDIUS
Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing,
Confederate season, else no creature seeing,
Thou mixture rank of midnight weeds collected,
With Hecate’s182 ban thrice blasted, thrice infected,
Thy natural magic and dire property
On wholesome life usurps immediately.


[pours poison from vial into KING HAMLET’S ear]
[exit CLAUDIUS]
[pause]
[KING HAMLET screams, attempts to rise, falls, dies.]


Act V Scene 4


[a room in Castle Elsinore]


[Enter VOLTIMAND and CORNELIUS]


CORNELIUS
Think ye not rites funereal and interment of the late king be done in unseemly haste? Scarce the body’s life heat spent than to earth’s eternal cool it be joined.


VOLTIMAND
‘Tis said the corse183 putrefied with unnatural speed. Worms and flies began to feed upon betimes the eyes were shut. So ill was the humor effused that they feared hurt to them that ‘plied the unction, shroud and box should more of eternity pass before the king’s earthy part joined it. To conceal the mess they buried him in’s armor full, cap a pie184, with ‘is beaver up so they’d know it was he.


CORNELIUS
Needs there not be like haste to make new king as to bury old?


VOLTIMAND
Aye, the times are raw. The young Fortinbras raises the herited claim of the old, him we saw slain with second sword before our younger eyes. The tale told and retold by Norsker fires in Norsker halls hath grown in each retelling. Hath become a legend that stalks the land, become a ravening demon, a spirit of grievance that cannot be allayed but by blood and death, endless death. The monster now bears in its train all Norway in arms of steel, men who remember the tale but not the siege-horror that went before. Fortinbras, in Norsker eyes the wronged rightful heir of Denmark’s national throne now builds fleet to fleetly bring uncounted keen blades from their shore to ours.


CORNELIUS
What say our commanders?


VOLTIMAND
Some would fall upon their ships and burn them in their ports. But if forewarned they meet us on the sea, we risk all on a single fight, and they the stronger. Some say to put our men not to sea but to cast cannon and fortify – others again that the coast is long and low and but strong points can be made strong. So argue they that so fortified, the land must be stalked by the ravening monster of invasion, the kingdom ravaged to spare the kingship. They cannot, will not, agree upon a course.


CORNELIUS
Canst thou not command them? Thou art speaker of the council of the lords.

VOLTIMAND
Nay, they say me, and rightly so, thou art first among those who may elect a king, but no king. Only the voice that speaks from the throne will they heed. Only he that wears a crown may rule and over-rule. Nor heed they the prince-regent Claudius whom they love not. Restive commons, made of every vulgar usurping voice, whisper to elect their own king and have done with lords and lawful rule.

CORNELIUS
Hath the young prince-heir been summoned from his student aerie185 at Heidelberg?


VOLTIMAND
He hath, by messenger with appeal hot and urgent.


CORNELIUS
Will the lords elect him when he present himself?


VOLTIMAND
Aye. That the king’s son be king after him is our ancient usage. That the lords elect is our ancient law. The common opinion breathed away from the vulgar186 ear is that he is distract and whimsical, but none doubt he is a soldier made from his father’s mettle.


CORNELIUS
Comes he now in speed on froth-beaten steed to take his father’s crown, to Hamlet duel Fortinbras as father Hamlet slew father Fortinbras for Denmark’s sake and crown?


VOLTIMAND
Nay, he made the messenger whimsical and dilatory answer and would not come. He said the time is unhinged and that he was afeard.


CORNELIUS
Asked the messenger what his meaning was?


VOLTIMAND
He did. The prince’s answer was to ask after the messenger’s health, to speak of his horse, and to inquire by what route he meant to travel home.


CORNELIUS
Know his friends, confederates of his affairs, his purpose so to spurn proffered kingdom and his duty?


VOLTIMAND
Comes now Horatio, his trusted friend. If he be not confidant, none is, with the vizier. Try him yourself. We shall learn together.


[enter POLONIUS and HORATIO]


CORNELIUS
Good morrow to you my lord Polonius and sir Horatio.


POLONIUS
All honours, greetings, and salutations to you both and each my lords Voltimand and Cornelius. Health and good fortune to ye and to all ye favor. For now and for the future.


CORNELIUS
Permit us to compress all courtesies into a word and feel them the same as said.


POLONIUS
We shall.


CORNELIUS
Know ye of Prince Hamlet’s unhinged reply to summons to his father’s throne?


POLONIUS
We do.


CORNELIUS
My lord Polonius, when late in Denmark the prince was oft in your house and at your table. You, Horatio, have been his comrade in stern war and companion in smiling peace. Ye, if any, know him. What means he by this gibe in lieu of answer?


POLONIUS
True it is that he hath sat many a time a time honoring my roof with high-born presence. Always hath he been good guest bearing pleasant talk but always kept he space between our minds as wide and firm as oak board187 at which we sate. All sally to draw closer he met with iron jest. I know his manner, not his mind.


CORNELIUS
You, good Horatio, surely you know more?


HORATIO
As much as any. More than once but his sword and life stood between me and spurting out gushes of mine on red-spattered waste. Many a cup have we shared and I have honor to call him friend. But much of his mind he kept as walled to me as to my lord Polonius.


VOLTIMAND
Is there no chink in this close of separation, doth no ray peep through? Hath he told you nothing?


HORATIO
I have had a letter of him. I have it here.


VOLTIMAND
Read it man! Read it!

HORATIO
[takes out letter. Reads] He begins by inquiring after my health and affairs and then of our friends. Then he tells of a boar hunt and models188 the flashing tusk and –


VOLTIMAND
[interrupting] Good! And well! But why doth he tarry?


HORATIO
[hesitantly] I do not know he would like me shew189 his letter. It is personal.


VOLTIMAND
It touches on state and invasion. Invasion brings death, death, and death. Is the letter more personal than death?


HORATIO
Thou overweenest me my lord. He tarries for fear his mind will fall in a crack in hers and be lost.


VOLTIMAND
His mind fall into a crack in hers and be lost? What means this madness? What hers? He is enamored of a wench? Doth he pine? What wench? Say, sir.


[HORATIO stares at the ground]


Why this silence? No dishonor can attach to thee nor thy loved prince in this. You speak, as speak you must, because the state’s life requires it. Nor fear dishonor to thy prince as lesé majesté absolves kings of misdeeds. They answer but to G_d. But first speak and make him king.


HORATIO
Not my or the prince’s honor. ‘Tis another’s I fear.


POLONIUS
Speak, whomsoever it be.


HORATIO
[softly] ‘Tis thy daughter’s, Lady Ophelia.


POLONIUS
My Ophelia! It cannot be! She is a most sober child, ever tractable to my parental wishes. She spoke naught of him to me, nor he of her.


HORATIO
[stammering, uncomfortable] My lord, I but guessed. He spoke once of her beauty and of that I have made too much. I know not who he meant.


VOLTIMAND
Tut! What matters it which wench, [glances at POLONIUS] which lady, hath addled his wits? We must have a king this day or have no kingdom for love-sick heir, this tardy king, to herit.


POLONIUS
The state totters. What is to be done?


VOLTIMAND
I shall put forward the prince-regent Claudius to be king.


CORNELIUS
[doubtfully] Claudius?


VOLTIMAND
True he is no soldier. Yet may he appoint a Lord Martial to bear his steel. Thus did Old Denmark when aged and infirm make the late king his general in all, when he was yet Lord Elsinore.


POLONIUS
Claudius hath already the civil rule, good. He is the late king’s brother and hath the smack of royalty. He is known, if not loved, by all, better. There need be no struggle of warring ambitions for places and emoluments as oft marks a new reign. Those that have shall keep, best.


VOLTIMAND
I go this moment to send heralds to assemble the council of the lords.


POLONIUS
And in my proper person to summon the councilors and officers of state.


[exeunt VOLTIMAND and POLONIUS]


[An uncomfortable pause. CORNELIUS and HORATIO look around both casually and uneasily, but not at each other.]


CORNELIUS
How did he describe her beauty?


[another pause, longer than the first]


HORATIO
He said she was as a great diamond, one only a king might have, so cunningly cut that when it took in ordinary light it gave back every hue in its glitter…[pauses]


CORNELIUS
And?


HORATIO
That the jewel hath a flaw, a crack in its heart such that the rainbow fires it gave back were broken, jagged, and askew.


CORNELIUS
And the lady loved too much?


HORATIO
Aye. Madly. [pause] To shrieking.


CORNELIUS
And he fled?


HORATIO
To Wittenberg.


[CORNELIUS gazes reflectively at HORATIO for several seconds, and then into the distance for several more.]


CORNELIUS
Fare thee well, good Horatio.


HORATIO
And thee my lord.


[exeunt CORNELIUS and HORATIO in opposite directions.]


Act V Scene 5 the Coronation and Wedding – the last scene


[Castle Elsinore, the great hall]


[BISHOP, POLONIUS onstage LORDS onstage opposite them. PAGE stands next to BISHOP. Holds crown with Union pearl in it on a velvet cushion]
[Music swells – Handel, Coronation Anthem]
[Enter CLAUDIUS, wearing a jeweled dagger, at a slow march, stands before BISHOP. Music stops.]


BISHOP
My lord, before G_d and this company, swear the oath.


CLAUDIUS
First, that the church of G_d and the whole Christian people shall have true peace at all time by our judgment; second, that I will forbid extortion and all kinds of wrong-doing to all orders of men; third, that I will enjoin equity and mercy in all judgments.


[BISHOP makes sign of the cross over CLAUDIUS. Takes crown from PAGE. Places it on CLAUDIUS’ head. CLAUDIUS stands and turns to face LORDS. He opens his arms in a gesture more of appeal than welcome or triumph. LORDS cheer unenthusiastically.]


[Handel Coronation Anthem swells..]


[Enter GERTRUDE in elaborate veiled bridal costume. PAGE puts rings upon the same cushion. OPHELIA is her train bearer. GERTRUDE and OPHELIA do slow march across stage until GERTRUDE is standing before BISHOP and standing next to CLAUDIUS. PAGE places additional cushions before them during GERTRUDE’s slow march. GERTRUDE and CLAUDIUS kneel on the cushions.]


BISHOP
I require and charge you that if either of you do know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in matrimony, that ye confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as be coupled together other ways than God’s word doth allow are not joined of God, neither is their matrimony lawful.


Who gives this woman?


GERTRUDE
I am queen and ruler in Denmark and I need none to give me. My hand is my own.


BISHOP
[pauses] Do you take this woman to be your wife?


CLAUDIUS
I do.


BISHOP
Do you take this man to be thy husband?


GERTRUDE
I do.


[CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE stand. PAGE brings rings. They put the rings on each other’s fingers.]


BISHOP
If any man know any cause why these two should not be joined as man and wife, let him speak now or forever hold his peace.


[Enter URIZEN unnoticed. Soft sound of jester’s bells. It grows louder and louder. Only CLAUDIUS can hear it. He shudders, stares, trembles. At the director’s discretion he may reproduce KING HAMLET’s dying scream and fall in the same manner. If so, he is helped up by the others including GERTRUDE.]


BISHOP
You may kiss the bride.


[Pause while GERTRUDE waits to be kissed. He doesn’t. She pushes back her veil herself and waits one heartbeat.]


GERTRUDE
[with forced smile] Now all to the feasting hall to celebrate this most happy day.


LORDS
Hurrah!


[CLAUDIUS gestures subtly to POLONIUS to stay.]
[Exeunt omnes, except CLAUDIUS, GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, and URIZEN.]


GERTRUDE
[tugging at CLAUDIUS’ arm] Come my lord, now husband and king. Life’s festives await.


CLAUDIUS
Grant me a moment, madame. Go thou and celebrate our good fortune and this lucky day. But permit me a word with the vizier over a minor matter of state.


GERTRUDE
Pray tarry not long.


[exit GERTRUDE]


[CLAUDIUS gestures to POLONIUS to leave. Exit POLONIUS.]


CLAUDIUS
Pray? I pray? To Him Whom will no longer hear my prayers?


URIZEN
From Ireland to Russia thy word is law. She for whom thee burned will be in thy bed this day. What hast thou left to pray for?


CLAUDIUS
Wormwood190! All wormwood!


[takes dagger from scabbard]


[exit URIZEN]


CLAUDIUS
Damned! Damned!

[CLAUDIUS kneels, holds dagger in both hands with the point toward his chest. He brings the point closer and closer until the point touches him. He visibly tenses. He suddenly flings the dagger away.]


[exit CLAUDIUS]


[final curtain]

FINIS

Footnotes

1 share
2 meal
3 willingly
4 molars
5 if
6 Leave an inheritance
7 Stew, typically lentils
8 Having an ornamental knob, typically on the hilt of a sword or dagger
9 Small rotating wheel at the end of a spur
10 A senile person
11 Latin, plural of exit.
12 A serving bowl for soups
13 Rotting meat
14 buried
15 Father, also form of address to a king
16 A thing scoffed at
17 if
18 All the same
19 Born of a second wife
20 Hold, grasp
21 Spheres, worlds
22 world
23 Take power
24 Chosen, elected
25 kindred
26 Power, control
27 Tribe of ancient Scandinavia
28 Be fertile, be populated
29 Those begotten, descendants
30 pointless
31 meaning
32 Ardent, intense
33 call
34 powerful
35 Norwegian
36 Danish
37 Minor extra bits
38 Jutting or overhanging
39 strait
40 military
41 Jeweled staff, symbol of royal authority
42 private
43 A kind of candle
44 bible
45 child
46 child
47 secular
48 Worldly, not holy
49 guess
50 Marker of military rank worn on the shoulder
51 Damnation, Hell
52 Fragrant resinous tree sap, once used to waterproof wooden boats
53 chests
54 infantry
55 Large tent, typically open at the sides
56 killing a king
57 ceremonies
58 funeral
59 Blacksmith’s workshop
60 Wages, benefits, fees
61 pretended
62 also
63 agreement
64 dreamlike images
65 Royal crown, or a jewel in it
66 Greatness, importance, ego
67 dignity
68 daydream
69 loyalties
70 back-formation from ‘overween’
71 vassal
72 half
73 blood
74 Legendary fame
75 stressed
76 Chief god of the Norse
77 Six feet
78 smelled
79 dung
80 nothing
81 blade
82 wishes
83 permission
84 willingly
85 oatmeal
86 shore
87 encircled
88 withered
89 difficulty
90 Viking founders of Russian state
91 Legendary remote Christian king
92 Take away
93 mansion
94 Large estate
95 Honest, i.e. poor
96 cobblestones
97 flees
98 enough
99 food
100 Beet soup
101 Close-fitting jacket
102 Lithuanian
103 food
104 i.e. for pay
105 close
106 peasants
107 gentleman
108 Kitchen helper
109 Silly tricks
110 chicken
111Face covering
112 torn
113 Unresolved situation, a tie
114 anything
115 negotiate
116 stage
117 late
118 stays
119 A mild curse
120 shoes
121 Pickled fish
122 return
123 Norse gods
124 Resolute, fearless
125 Surprised, confused
126 Two pence
127 eat
128 plow
129 grow
130 dowry
131 says
132 pants
133 old
134 Treated badly
135 Hillel
136 solve
137 conspired
138 efforts
139 leaving
140 later
141 please
142 treated
143 engagement
144 Cousin, not literally meant
145 hurry
146 begging
147 contents
148 virginity
149 Back-contruction from ‘behest’
150 mime
151 Say goodbye
152 preference
153 like
154 pesters
155 Rich commoner
156 sex
157 Implied meaning
158 Arranged in groups
159 burden
160 importance
161 reasoning
162 Young man
163 hopefully
164 branch
165 Violent madman
166 Sacrament of the dying
167 French crown prince
168 Top of head
169 consecrate
170 promotion
171 Vinland Indians
172 afraid
173 morning
174 spoke
175 tell
176 Greek sun-god
177 Sea god
178 Earth god
179 Marriage god
180 creations
181 For slight reason
182 Goddess of moon and witchcraft
183 corpse
184 Head to toe
185 Eagle’s nest
186 Commoners’
187 i.e. the table
188 describes
189 show

190 Intensely bitter flavor