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  • Title: Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)
  • Editor: David Bevington
  • ISBN: 978-1-55058-434-9

    Copyright David Bevington. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: William Shakespeare
    Editor: David Bevington
    Not Peer Reviewed

    Hamlet (Modern, Editor's Version)

    Flourish. Enter Claudius, King of Denmark, Gertrude the Queen, Hamlet, Polonius, Laertes, and his sister Ophelia, Lords attendant [including Voltemand and Cornelius].
    Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother's death
    180The memory be green, and that it us befitted
    To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom
    To be contracted in one brow of woe,
    Yet so far hath discretion fought with nature
    That we with wisest sorrow think on him
    185Together with remembrance of ourselves.
    Therefore our sometime sister, now our queen,
    Th'imperial jointress of this warlike state,
    Have we as 'twere with a defeated joy,
    With one auspicious and one dropping eye,
    190With mirth in funeral and with dirge in marriage,
    In equal scale weighing delight and dole,
    Taken to wife. Nor have we herein barred
    Your better wisdoms, which have freely gone
    With this affair along. For all, our thanks.
    195Now follows that you know: young Fortinbras,
    Holding a weak supposal of our worth,
    Or thinking by our late dear brother's death
    Our state to be disjoint and out of frame,
    Co-leaguèd with this dream of his advantage,
    200He hath not failed to pester us with message
    Importing the surrender of those lands
    Lost by his father, with all bonds of law,
    To our most valiant brother. So much for him.
    205Now for ourself, and for this time of meeting,
    Thus much the business is: we have here writ
    To Norway, uncle of young Fortinbras,
    Who, impotent and bed-rid, scarcely hears
    Of this his nephew's purpose, to suppress
    210His further gait herein, in that the levies,
    The lists, and full proportions are all made
    Out of his subject; and we here dispatch
    You, good Cornelius, and you, Voltemand,
    For bearers of this greeting to old Norway,
    215Giving to you no further personal power
    To business with the King more than the scope
    Of these dilated articles allow.
    Farewell, and let your haste commend your duty.
    Cornelius and Voltemand In that and all things will we show our duty.
    We doubt it nothing. Heartily farewell.
    Exeunt Voltemand and Cornelius.
    And now, Laertes, what's the news with you?
    You told us of some suit. What is't, Laertes?
    You cannot speak of reason to the Dane
    225And lose your voice. What wouldst thou beg, Laertes,
    That shall not be my offer, not thy asking?
    The head is not more native to the heart,
    The hand more instrumental to the mouth,
    Than is the throne of Denmark to thy father.
    230What wouldst thou have, Laertes?
    Dread my lord,
    Your leave and favor to return to France,
    From whence though willingly I came to Denmark
    To show my duty in your coronation,
    235Yet now I must confess, that duty done,
    My thoughts and wishes bend again toward France
    And bow them to your gracious leave and pardon.
    Have you your father's leave? What says Polonius?
    H'ath, my lord, wrung from me my slow leave
    240.1By laborsome petition, and at last
    Upon his will I sealed my hard consent.
    I do beseech you, give him leave to go.
    Take thy fair hour, Laertes. Time be thine,
    And thy best graces spend it at thy will.
    But now, my cousin Hamlet, and my son--
    A little more than kin, and less than kind.
    How is it that the clouds still hang on you?
    Not so, my lord, I am too much i'th' sun.
    Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off
    And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
    250Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
    Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
    Thou know'st 'tis common: all that lives must die,
    Passing through nature to eternity.
    Ay, madam, it is common.
    If it be,
    Why seems it so particular with thee?
    "Seems," madam? Nay, it is, I know not "seems."
    'Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
    Nor customary suits of solemn black,
    260Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
    No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
    Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
    Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief
    That can denote me truly. These indeed seem,
    265For they are actions that a man might play.
    But I have that within which passeth show;
    These but the trappings and the suits of woe.
    'Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,
    270To give these mourning duties to your father.
    But you must know your father lost a father;
    That father lost, lost his, and the survivor bound
    In filial obligation for some term
    To do obsequious sorrow; but to persever
    275In obstinate condolement is a course
    Of impious stubbornness. 'Tis unmanly grief.
    It shows a will most incorrect to heaven,
    A heart unfortified, a mind impatient,
    An understanding simple and unschooled;
    280For what we know must be and is as common
    As any the most vulgar thing to sense,
    Why should we in our peevish opposition
    Take it to heart? Fie, 'tis a fault to heaven,
    A fault against the dead, a fault to nature,
    285To reason most absurd, whose common theme
    Is death of fathers, and who still hath cried
    From the first corpse till he that died today
    "This must be so." We pray you throw to earth
    This unprevailing woe, and think of us
    290As of a father; for let the world take note
    You are the most immediate to our throne,
    And with no less nobility of love
    Than that which dearest father bears his son
    Do I impart toward you. For your intent
    295In going back to school in Wittenberg,
    It is most retrograde to our desire,
    And we beseech you bend you to remain
    Here in the cheer and comfort of our eye,
    Our chiefest courtier, cousin, and our son.
    Let not thy mother lose her prayers, Hamlet.
    I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.
    I shall in all my best obey you, madam.
    Why, 'tis a loving and a fair reply.
    305Be as ourself in Denmark.--Madam, come.
    This gentle and unforced accord of Hamlet
    Sits smiling to my heart, in grace whereof
    No jocund health that Denmark drinks today
    But the great cannon to the clouds shall tell,
    310And the King's rouse the heavens shall bruit again,
    Respeaking earthly thunder. Come, away!
    Flourish. Exeunt all but Hamlet.
    Oh, that this too too solid flesh would melt,
    Thaw, and resolve itself into a dew!
    315Or that the Everlasting had not fixed
    His canon 'gainst self-slaughter! Oh, God, God,
    How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
    Seem to me all the uses of this world!
    Fie on't, ah, fie! 'Tis an unweeded garden
    320That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
    Possess it merely. That it should come to this!
    But two months dead--nay, not so much, not two!
    So excellent a king, that was to this
    Hyperion to a satyr, so loving to my mother
    325That he might not beteem the winds of heaven
    Visit her face too roughly. Heaven and earth,
    Must I remember? Why, she would hang on him
    As if increase of appetite had grown
    By what it fed on. And yet within a month--
    330Let me not think on't; frailty, thy name is woman!
    A little month, or ere those shoes were old
    With which she followed my poor father's body,
    Like Niobe, all tears, why, she, even she--
    Oh, God, a beast that wants discourse of reason
    335Would have mourned longer!--married with my uncle,
    My father's brother, but no more like my father
    Than I to Hercules. Within a month,
    Ere yet the salt of most unrighteous tears
    Had left the flushing of her gallèd eyes,
    340She married. Oh, most wicked speed, to post
    With such dexterity to incestuous sheets!
    It is not, nor it cannot come to good,
    But break, my heart, for I must hold my tongue.
    Enter Horatio, Marcellus, and Barnardo.
    Hail to your lordship!
    I am glad to see you well.--
    Horatio, or I do forget myself!
    The same, my lord, and your poor servant ever.
    Sir, my good friend, I'll change that name with you.
    And what make you from Wittenberg,
    My good lord.
    I am very glad to see you. [To Barnardo.] Good even, sir.
    [To Horatio] But what, in faith, make you from Wittenberg?
    A truant disposition, good my lord.
    I would not have your enemy say so,
    Nor shall you do my ear that violence
    360To make it truster of your own report
    Against yourself. I know you are no truant.
    But what is your affair in Elsinore?
    We'll teach you to drink deep ere you depart.
    My lord, I came to see your father's funeral.
    I prithee do not mock me, fellow student.
    I think it was to see my mother's wedding.
    Indeed, my lord, it followed hard upon.
    Thrift, thrift, Horatio. The funeral baked meats
    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.
    370Would I had met my dearest foe in heaven
    Ere I had ever
    seen that day, Horatio!
    My father--methinks I see my father.
    Oh, where, my lord?
    In my mind's eye, Horatio.
    I saw him once. 'A was a goodly king.
    'A was a man, take him for all in all,
    I shall not look upon his like again.
    My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.
    Saw? Who?
    My lord, the King your father.
    The King my father?
    Season your admiration for a while
    With an attent ear till I may deliver,
    Upon the witness of these gentlemen,
    385This marvel to you.
    For God's love, let me hear!
    Two nights together had these gentlemen,
    Marcellus and Barnardo, on their watch
    In the dead waste and middle of the night
    390Been thus encountered: a figure like your father
    Armed at all points, exactly, cap-à-pie,
    Appears before them, and with solemn march
    Goes slow and stately by them. Thrice he walked
    By their oppressed and fear-surprisèd eyes
    395 Within his truncheon's length, whilst they, distilled
    Almost to jelly with the act of fear,
    Stand dumb and speak not to him. This to me
    In dreadful secrecy impart they did,
    And I with them the third night kept the watch,
    400Where, as they had delivered, both in time,
    Form of the thing, each word made true and good,
    The apparition comes. I knew your father.
    These hands are not more like.
    But where was this?
    My lord, upon the platform where we watched.
    Did you not speak to it?
    My lord, I did,
    But answer made it none. Yet once methought
    It lifted up it head and did address
    410Itself to motion, like as it would speak;
    But even then the morning cock crew loud,
    And at the sound it shrunk in haste away
    And vanished from our sight.
    'Tis very strange.
    As I do live, my honored lord, 'tis true,
    And we did think it writ down in our duty
    To let you know of it.
    Indeed, indeed, sirs, but this troubles me.
    Hold you the watch tonight?
    We do, my lord.
    Armed, say you?
    Armed, my lord.
    From top to toe?
    My lord, from head to foot.
    Then saw you not his face?
    Oh, yes, my lord, he wore his beaver up.
    What looked he, frowningly?
    A countenance more in sorrow than in anger.
    Pale, or red?
    Nay, very pale.
    And fixed his eyes upon you?
    Most constantly.
    I would I had been there.
    It would have much amazed you.
    Very like, very like. Stayed it long?
    While one with moderate haste might tell a hundred.
    Longer, longer.
    Not when I saw't.
    His beard was grizzled, no?
    It was as I have seen it in his life,
    A sable silvered.
    I will watch tonight.
    Perchance 'twill walk again.
    I warr'nt it will.
    If it assume my noble father's person,
    445I'll speak to it, though hell itself should gape
    And bid me hold my peace. I pray you all,
    If you have hitherto concealed this sight
    Let it be tenable in your silence still,
    And whatsomever else shall hap tonight,
    450Give it an understanding but no tongue;
    I will requite your loves. So, fare you well.
    Upon the platform 'twixt eleven and twelve
    I'll visit you.
    Our duty to your honor.
    Exeunt [all but Hamlet].
    Your loves, as mine to you. Farewell.
    My father's spirit--in arms! All is not well.
    I doubt some foul play. Would the night were come!
    Till then, sit still, my soul. Foul deeds will rise,
    Though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes.