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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    Not Peer Reviewed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 Barnardo and Francisco, two sentinels.
    Who's there?
    Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.
    Long live the King!
    You come most carefully upon your hour.
    'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
    For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,
    And I am sick at heart.
    Have you had quiet guard?
    Not a mouse stirring.
    Well, good night.
    If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
    The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.
    Enter Horatio and Marcellus.
    I think I hear them.--Stand, ho! Who is there?
    Friends to this ground.
    And liegemen to the Dane.
    Give you good night.
    Oh, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?
    Barnardo hath my place. Give you good night.
    Exit Francisco.
    Holla, Barnardo!
    Say, what, is Horatio there?
    A piece of him.
    Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
    What, has this thing appeared again tonight?
    I have seen nothing.
    Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
    And will not let belief take hold of him,
    Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.
    35Therefore I have entreated him along
    With us to watch the minutes of this night,
    That if again this apparition come
    He may approve our eyes and speak to it.
    Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.
    Sit down awhile,
    And let us once again assail your ears,
    That are so fortified against our story,
    What we two nights have seen.
    Well, sit we down,
    45And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.
    Last night of all,
    When yond same star that's westward from the pole
    Had made his course t'illume that part of heaven
    Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
    50The bell then beating one--
    Enter the Ghost.
    Peace, break thee off! Look where it comes again!
    In the same figure like the King that's dead.
    Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.
    Looks it not like the King? Mark it, Horatio.
    Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.
    It would be spoke to.
    Question it, Horatio.
    What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,
    60Together with that fair and warlike form
    In which the majesty of buried Denmark
    Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee speak!
    It is offended.
    See, it stalks away.
    Stay, speak, speak, I charge thee speak!
    Exit the Ghost.
    'Tis gone, and will not answer.
    How now, Horatio, you tremble and look pale.
    Is not this something more than fantasy?
    70What think you on't?
    Before my God, I might not this believe
    Without the sensible and true avouch
    Of mine own eyes.
    Is it not like the King?
    As thou art to thyself.
    Such was the very armor he had on
    When he the ambitious Norway combated.
    So frowned he once, when in an angry parle
    He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
    80'Tis strange.
    Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
    With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
    In what particular thought to work I know not,
    But in the gross and scope of mine opinion
    85This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
    Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
    Why this same strict and most observant watch
    So nightly toils the subject of the land,
    And why such daily cast of brazen cannon
    90And foreign mart for implements of war,
    Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
    Does not divide the Sunday from the week:
    What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
    Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day?
    95Who is't that can inform me?
    That can I.
    At least the whisper goes so: our last King,
    Whose image even but now appeared to us,
    Was as you know by Fortinbras of Norway,
    100Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,
    Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet--
    For so this side of our known world esteemed him--
    Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact
    Well ratified by law and heraldry
    105Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
    Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror;
    Against the which a moiety competent
    Was gagèd by our King, which had returned
    To the inheritance of Fortinbras
    110Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same cov'nant
    And carriage of the article design[ed]
    His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
    Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,
    Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
    115Sharked up a list of landless resolutes
    For food and diet to some enterprise
    That hath a stomach in't, which is no other,
    As it doth well appear unto our state,
    But to recover of us by strong hand
    120And terms compulsative those foresaid lands
    So by his father lost. And this, I take it,
    Is the main motive of our preparations,
    The source of this our watch, and the chief head
    Of this post-haste and rummage in the land.
    I think it be no other but e'en so.
    Well may it sort that this portentous figure
    Comes armèd through our watch so like the King
    That was and is the question of these wars.
    A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
    In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
    A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
    The graves stood tenantless, and the sheeted dead
    Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets,
    124.10As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
    Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
    Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
    Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.
    And even the like precurse of feared events,
    124.15As harbingers preceding still the fates
    And prologue to the omen coming on,
    Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
    Unto our climatures and countrymen.
    125Enter Ghost again.
    But soft, behold, lo, where it comes again!
    I'll cross it though it blast me.--Stay, illusion!
    It spreads his arms.
    If thou hast any sound or use of voice,
    Speak to me!
    If there be any good thing to be done
    130That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
    Speak to me!
    If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
    Which happily foreknowing may avoid,
    Oh, speak!
    Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
    Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
    135For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,
    Speak of it. Stay and speak!
    The cock crows.
    Stop it, Marcellus!
    Shall I strike at it with my partisan?
    Do, if it will not stand.
    'Tis here.
    'Tis here.
    Exit Ghost.
    'Tis gone.
    We do it wrong, being so majestical,
    To offer it the show of violence,
    For it is as the air, invulnerable,
    145And our vain blows malicious mockery.
    It was about to speak when the cock crew.
    And then it started like a guilty thing
    Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
    The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
    150Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
    Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,
    Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
    Th'extravagant and erring spirit hies
    To his confine; and of the truth herein
    155This present object made probation.
    It faded on the crowing of the cock.
    Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
    Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated,
    The bird of dawning singeth all night long,
    160And then they say no spirit can walk abroad;
    The nights are wholesome, then no planets strike,
    No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
    So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
    So have I heard and do in part believe it.
    165But look, the morn in russet mantle clad
    Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
    Break we our watch up, and by my advice
    Let us impart what we have seen tonight
    Unto young Hamlet, for, upon my life,
    170This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
    Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it
    As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
    Let's do 't, I pray, and I this morning know
    Where we shall find him most conveniently.