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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    Not Peer Reviewed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)

    Enter Ghost and Hamlet.
    Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak. I'll go no further.
    Mark me.
    I will.
    My hour is almost come
    When I to sulf'rous and tormenting flames
    Must render up myself.
    Alas, poor ghost!
    Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
    690To what I shall unfold.
    Speak. I am bound to hear.
    So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
    I am thy father's spirit,
    695Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,
    And for the day confined to fast in fires,
    Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
    Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
    To tell the secrets of my prison house,
    700I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
    Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
    Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,
    Thy knotted and combinèd locks to part,
    And each particular hair to stand on end
    705Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.
    But this eternal blazon must not be
    To ears of flesh and blood. List, Hamlet, oh, list:
    If thou didst ever thy dear father love--
    O God!
    Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
    Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
    But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
    Haste me to know't, 715that I with wings as swift
    As meditation or the thoughts of love
    May sweep to my revenge.
    I find thee apt,
    And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
    720That rots itself in ease on Lethe wharf
    Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
    'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
    A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
    Is by a forgèd process of my death
    725Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
    The serpent that did sting thy father's life
    Now wears his crown.
    Oh, my prophetic soul! My uncle?
    Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
    730With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts--
    Oh, wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
    So to seduce!--won to his shameful lust
    The will of my most seeming virtuous queen.
    Oh, Hamlet, what a falling off was there!
    735From me, whose love was of that dignity
    That it went hand in hand even with the vow
    I made to her in marriage, and to decline
    Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
    To those of mine. But virtue, as it never will be moved,
    740Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
    So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,
    Will sate itself in a celestial bed
    And prey on garbage.
    But soft, methinks I scent the morning's air.
    Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
    745My custom always of the afternoon,
    Upon my secure hour, thy uncle stole
    With juice of cursèd hebona in a vial,
    And in the porches of my ears did pour
    The leperous distillment, whose effect
    750Holds such an enmity with blood of man
    That swift as quicksilver it courses through
    The natural gates and alleys of the body,
    And with a sudden vigor it doth posset
    And curd like eager droppings into milk
    755The thin and wholesome blood; so did it mine,
    And a most instant tetter barked about,
    Most lazarlike with vile and loathsome crust,
    All my smooth body.
    Thus was I sleeping by a brother's hand
    760Of life, of crown, of queen at once dispatched,
    Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
    Unhousled, disappointed, unaneled,
    No reck'ning made, but sent to my account
    With all my imperfections on my head.
    765Oh, horrible, oh, horrible, most horrible!
    If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
    Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
    A couch for luxury and damnèd incest.
    But howsomever thou pursues this act,
    770Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
    Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven
    And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge
    To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once.
    The glow-worm shows the matin to be near
    775And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire.
    Adieu, adieu, Hamlet! Remember me.
    O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
    And shall I couple hell? Oh, fie! Hold, hold, my heart,
    And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
    780But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee?
    Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
    In this distracted globe. Remember thee?
    Yea, from the table of my memory
    I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
    785All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
    That youth and observation copied there,
    And thy commandment all alone shall live
    Within the book and volume of my brain,
    Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, yes, by heaven.
    790Oh, most pernicious woman!
    Oh, villain, villain, smiling damnèd villain!
    My tables, my tables--meet it is I set it down
    That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain.
    At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark.
    795So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word.
    It is "Adieu, adieu, remember me."
    I have sworn't.
    Enter Horatio and Marcellus [calling first from within].
    My lord, my lord!
    Lord Hamlet!
    Heavens secure him!
    So be it.
    Illo, ho, ho, my lord!
    Hillo, ho, ho, boy, come, bird, come!
    How is't, my noble lord?
    What news, my lord?
    Oh, wonderful!
    Good my lord, tell it.
    No, you'll reveal it.
    Not I, my lord, by heaven.
    Nor I, my lord.
    How say you then, would heart of man once think it--
    But you'll be secret?
    Ay, by heaven, my lord.
    There's ne'er a villaindwelling in all Denmark
    815But he's an arrant knave.
    There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave
    To tell us this.
    Why, right, you are i'th' right.
    And so, without more circumstance at all
    820I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:
    You as your business and desires shall point you
    (For every man hath business and desire,
    Such as it is), and for my own poor part,
    Look you, I'll go pray.
    These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.
    I am sorry they offend you--heartily,
    Yes, faith, heartily.
    There's no offense, my lord.
    Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
    830And much offense too. Touching this vision here,
    It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you.
    For your desire to know what is between us,
    O'ermaster it as you may. And now, good friends,
    As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
    835Give me one poor request.
    What is't, my lord? We will.
    Never make known what you have seen tonight.
    My lord, we will not.
    Nay, but swear't.
    In faith, my lord, not I.
    Nor I, my lord, in faith.
    Upon my sword.
    [He holds out his sword.]
    We have sworn, my lord, already.
    Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.
    845Ghost cries under the stage.
    Ha, ha, boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?--
    Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage.
    Consent to swear.
    Propose the oath, my lord.
    Never to speak of this that you have seen.
    Swear by my sword.
    [They swear.]
    Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
    [He moves them to another spot.]
    Come hither, gentlemen,
    855And lay your hands again upon my sword.
    Never to speak of this that you have heard
    Swear by my sword.
    Ghost Swear by his sword.
    [They swear.]
    Well said, old mole. Canst work i'th' earth so fast?
    860A worthy pioneer!--Once more remove, good friends.
    [They move once more.]
    Oh, day and night, but this is wondrous strange.
    And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
    There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
    Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. But come,
    865Here as before: never, so help you mercy,
    How strange or odd some'er I bear myself
    (As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
    To put an antic disposition on),
    That you at such times seeing me never shall,
    870With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,
    Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase
    As, "Well, well, we know," or "We could an if we would,"
    Or "If we list to speak," or "There be, an if they might,"
    Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
    875That you know aught of me. This not to do,
    So grace and mercy at your most need help you,
    [They swear.]
    Rest, rest, perturbèd spirit.--So, gentlemen,
    880With all my love I do commend me to you,
    And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
    May do t'express his love and friending to you,
    God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,
    And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
    885The time is out of joint. Oh, cursèd spite,
    That ever I was born to set it right!
    [They wait for him to leave first.]
    Nay, come, let's go together.