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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 King, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern.
    I like him not, nor stands it safe with us
    To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.
    I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
    2275And he to England shall along with you.
    The terms of our estate may not endure
    Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow
    Out of his lunacies.
    Guildenstern We will ourselves provide.
    2280Most holy and religious fear it is
    To keep those many many bodies safe
    That live and feed upon your majesty.
    The single and peculiar life is bound
    2285With all the strength and armor of the mind
    To keep itself from noyance, but much more
    That spirit upon whose weal depends and rests
    The lives of many. The cease of majesty
    Dies not alone, but like a gulf doth draw
    2290What's near it with it. It is a massy wheel
    Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,
    To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
    Are mortised and adjoined, which, when it falls,
    Each small annexment, petty consequence,
    2295Attends the boist'rous ruin. Never alone
    Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
    Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage,
    For we will fetters put upon this fear
    Which now goes too free-footed.
    2300Rosencrantz and Guildenstern
    We will haste us.
    Exeunt gentlemen [Rosencrantz and Guildenstern].
    Enter Polonius.
    My lord, he's going to his mother's closet.
    Behind the arras I'll convey myself
    To hear the process. I'll warrant she'll tax him home.
    2305And, as you said--and wisely was it said--
    'Tis meet that some more audience than a mother,
    Since nature makes them partial, should o'erhear
    The speech of vantage. Fare you well, my liege.
    I'll call upon you ere you go to bed,
    2310And tell you what I know.
    Thanks, dear my lord.
    Exit [Polonius].
    Oh, my offense is rank! It smells to heaven.
    It hath the primal eldest curse upon't,
    A brother's murder. Pray can I not,
    2315Though inclination be as sharp as will;
    My stronger guilt defeats my strong intent,
    And like a man to double business bound
    I stand in pause where I shall first begin,
    And both neglect. What if this cursèd hand
    2320Were thicker than itself with brother's blood,
    Is there not rain enough in the sweet heavens
    To wash it white as snow? Whereto serves mercy
    But to confront the visage of offense?
    And what's in prayer but this twofold force,
    2325To be forestallèd ere we come to fall,
    Or pardoned being down? Then I'll look up.
    My fault is past. But, oh, what form of prayer
    Can serve my turn? "Forgive me my foul murder"?
    That cannot be, since I am still possessed
    2330Of those effects for which I did the murder:
    My crown, mine own ambition, and my queen.
    May one be pardoned and retain th'offense?
    In the corrupted currents of this world,
    Offense's gilded hand may shove by justice,
    2335And oft 'tis seen the wicked prize itself
    Buys out the law. But 'tis not so above:
    There is no shuffling, there the action lies
    In his true nature, and we ourselves compelled,
    Even to the teeth and forehead of our faults,
    2340To give in evidence. What then? What rests?
    Try what repentance can. What can it not?
    Yet what can it, when one cannot repent?
    O wretched state, O bosom black as death,
    O limèd soul, that, struggling to be free,
    2345Art more engaged! Help, angels! Make assay.
    Bow, stubborn knees, and heart with strings of steel,
    Be soft as sinews of the newborn babe!
    All may be well.
    [He kneels.]
    Enter Hamlet.
    Now might I do it pat, now 'a is a-praying,
    And now I'll do't.
    [He draws his sword.]
    And so 'a goes to heaven,
    And so am I revenged. That would be scanned:
    A villain kills my father, and for that,
    I, his sole son, do this same villain send
    2355To heaven.
    Why, this is hire and salary, not revenge.
    'A took my father grossly, full of bread,
    With all his crimes broad blown, as flush as May,
    And how his audit stands, who knows save heaven?
    But in our circumstance and course of thought
    2360 'Tis heavy with him. And am I then revenged
    To take him in the purging of his soul,
    When he is fit and seasoned for his passage?
    [He sheathes his sword.]
    Up, sword, and know thou a more horrid hent.
    When he is drunk asleep, or in his rage,
    2365Or in th'incestuous pleasure of his bed,
    At gaming, swearing, or about some act
    That has no relish of salvation in't,
    Then trip him, that his heels may kick at heaven,
    And that his soul may be as damned and black
    2370As hell, whereto it goes. My mother stays.
    This physic but prolongs thy sickly days.
    My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
    Words without thoughts never to heaven go.