A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 2, Scene 2

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Trumpets sound. CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE enter, with ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and attendants.

CLAUDIUS

Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Moreover that we much did long to see you, The need we have to use you did provoke Our hasty sending. Something have you heard Of Hamlet’s “transformation”—so call it Since nor th’ exterior nor the inward man Resembles that it was. What it should be, More than his father’s death, that thus hath put him So much from th’ understanding of himself, I cannot dream of. I entreat you both That, being of so young days brought up with him And since so neighbored to his youth and ‘havior, That you vouchsafe your rest here in our court Some little time so by your companies To draw him on to pleasures and to gather, So much as from occasion you may glean, Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus That, opened, lies within our remedy.

CLAUDIUS

Welcome, dear Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Not only have I wanted to see you, but I also urgently need your help, which is why I sent for you. You may have heard about Hamlet’s recent “transformation”—that’s the right word, since he’s changed both inside and out from what he was before. Other than his father’s death, I can’t imagine what’s made him so unlike himself. Since you both grew up with him and are so familiar with him, I ask you both to stay here at court for a while. Spend time with Hamlet, get him to enjoy life again, and try to find out if there’s anything we don’t know about that’s bothering him—so we can try to fix it.

GERTRUDE

Good gentlemen, he hath much talked of you. And sure I am two men there are not living To whom he more adheres. If it will please you To show us so much gentry and good will As to expend your time with us awhile For the supply and profit of our hope, Your visitation shall receive such thanks As fits a king’s remembrance.

GERTRUDE

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ROSENCRANTZ

Both your majesties Might, by the sovereign power you have of us, Put your dread pleasures more into command Than to entreaty.

ROSENCRANTZ

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GUILDENSTERN

But we both obey And here give up ourselves, in the full bent, To lay our service freely at your feet To be commanded.

GUILDENSTERN

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CLAUDIUS

Thanks, Rosencrantz and gentle Guildenstern.

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

Thanks, Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz. And I beseech you instantly to visit My too much changèd son. Go, some of you, And bring these gentlemen where Hamlet is.

GERTRUDE

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GUILDENSTERN

Heavens make our presence and our practicesPleasant and helpful to him!

GUILDENSTERN

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GERTRUDE

Ay, amen!

GERTRUDE

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit, escorted by attendants.

POLONIUS enters.

POLONIUS

Th’ ambassadors from Norway, my good lord,Are joyfully returned.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

Thou still hast been the father of good news.

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

Have I, my lord? I assure my good liege, I hold my duty as I hold my soul, Both to my God and to my gracious king. And I do think—or else this brain of mine Hunts not the trail of policy so sure As it hath used to do—that I have found The very cause of Hamlet’s lunacy.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

Oh, speak of that. That do I long to hear.

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

Give first admittance to th’ ambassadors.My news shall be the fruit to that great feast.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

Thyself do grace to them, and bring them in.

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS exits.

CLAUDIUS

He tells me, my dear Gertrude, he hath foundThe head and source of all your son’s distemper.

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

I doubt it is no other but the main:His father’s death and our o’erhasty marriage.

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS enters with the ambassadors VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS.

CLAUDIUS

Well, we shall sift him.—Welcome, my good friends!Say, Voltemand, what from our brother Norway?

CLAUDIUS

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VOLTEMAND

Most fair return of greetings and desires. Upon our first, he sent out to suppress His nephew’s levies, which to him appeared To be a preparation ‘gainst the Polack, But, better looked into, he truly found It was against your highness. Whereat grieved— That so his sickness, age, and impotence Was falsely borne in hand—sends out arrests On Fortinbras, which he, in brief, obeys, Receives rebuke from Norway, and in fine Makes vow before his uncle never more To give th’ assay of arms against your majesty. Whereon old Norway, overcome with joy, Gives him three thousand crowns in annual fee And his commission to employ those soldiers, So levied as before, against the Polack, With an entreaty, herein further shown, That it might please you to give quiet pass Through your dominions for this enterprise, On such regards of safety and allowance As therein are set down. [gives CLAUDIUS a document]

VOLTEMAND

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CLAUDIUS

It likes us well, And at our more considered time we’ll read, Answer, and think upon this business. Meantime we thank you for your well-took labor. Go to your rest. At night we’ll feast together. Most welcome home!

CLAUDIUS

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VOLTEMAND and CORNELIUS exit.

POLONIUS

This business is well ended. My liege and madam, to expostulate What majesty should be, what duty is, Why day is day, night night, and time is time, Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time. Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, I will be brief: your noble son is mad. Mad call I it, for, to define true madness, What is ’t but to be nothing else but mad? But let that go.

POLONIUS

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GERTRUDE

More matter, with less art.

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

Madam, I swear I use no art at all. That he is mad, ’tis true. Tis true, ’tis pity, And pity ’tis ’tis true—a foolish figure, But farewell it, for I will use no art. Mad let us grant him then. And now remains That we find out the cause of this effect, Or rather say, the cause of this defect, For this effect defective comes by cause. Thus it remains, and the remainder thus. Perpend. I have a daughter—have while she is mine— Who in her duty and obedience, mark, Hath given me this. Now gather and surmise. [reads a letter] “To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified Ophelia” —That’s an ill phrase, a vile phrase. “Beautified” is a vile phrase. But you shall hear. Thus: [reads the letter] “In her excellent white bosom, these,” etc.—

POLONIUS

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GERTRUDE

Came this from Hamlet to her?

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

Good madam, stay a while. I will be faithful. [reads the letter] “Doubt thou the stars are fire, Doubt that the sun doth move, Doubt truth to be a liar, But never doubt I love. O dear Ophelia, I am ill at these numbers. I have not art to reckon my groans, but that I love thee best, oh, most best, believe it. Adieu. Thine evermore, most dear lady, whilst this machine is to him, Hamlet.” This in obedience hath my daughter shown me, And more above, hath his solicitings, As they fell out by time, by means, and place, All given to mine ear.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

But how hath she received his love?

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

What do you think of me?

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

As of a man faithful and honorable.

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

I would fain prove so. But what might you think, When I had seen this hot love on the wing— As I perceived it, I must tell you that, Before my daughter told me what might you, Or my dear majesty your queen here, think, If I had played the desk or table-book, Or given my heart a winking, mute and dumb, Or looked upon this love with idle sight? What might you think? No, I went round to work, And my young mistress thus I did bespeak: “Lord Hamlet is a prince out of thy star. This must not be.” And then I prescripts gave her, That she should lock herself from his resort, Admit no messengers, receive no tokens. Which done, she took the fruits of my advice; And he, repelled—a short tale to make— Fell into a sadness, then into a fast, Thence to a watch, thence into a weakness, Thence to a lightness, and, by this declension, Into the madness wherein now he raves And all we mourn for.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

[to GERTRUDE] Do you think ’tis this?

CLAUDIUS

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GERTRUDE

It may be, very like.

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

Hath there been such a time—I would fain know that—That I have positively said, “‘Tis so,”When it proved otherwise?

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

Not that I know.

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

[points to his head and shoulders] Take this from this if this be otherwise. If circumstances lead me, I will find Where truth is hid, though it were hid indeed Within the center.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

How may we try it further?

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

You know sometimes he walks four hours togetherHere in the lobby.

POLONIUS

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GERTRUDE

So he does indeed.

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

At such a time I’ll loose my daughter to him. [to CLAUDIUS] Be you and I behind an arras then, Mark the encounter. If he love her not And be not from his reason fall’n thereon, Let me be no assistant for a state But keep a farm and carters.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS

We will try it.

CLAUDIUS

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HAMLET enters, reading a book.

GERTRUDE

But look where sadly the poor wretch comes reading.

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

Away, I do beseech you, both away.I’ll board him presently. O, give me leave.

POLONIUS

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CLAUDIUS and GERTRUDE exit.

POLONIUS

How does my good Lord Hamlet?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Well, God-’a’-mercy.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Do you know me, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Excellent well. You are a fishmonger.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Not I, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Then I would you were so honest a man.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Honest, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Ay, sir. To be honest, as this world goes, is to be oneman picked out of ten thousand.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

That’s very true, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

For if the sun breed maggots in a dead dog, being a good kissing carrion— Have you a daughter?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

I have, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Let her not walk i’ th’ sun. Conception is a blessing, but, as your daughter may conceive—Friend, look to ’t.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

[aside] How say you by that? Still harping on my daughter. Yet he knew me not at first. He said I was a fishmonger. He is far gone, far gone. And truly in my youth I suffered much extremity for love, very near this. I’ll speak to him again.

[to HAMLET] What do you read, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Words, words, words.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

What is the matter, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Between who?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

I mean, the matter that you read, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Slanders, sir. For the satirical rogue says here that old men have gray beards, that their faces are wrinkled,their eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams —all which, sir, though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not honesty to have it thus set down; for yourself, sir, should be old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

[aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in ’t. [to HAMLET] Will you walk out of the air, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Into my grave.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Indeed, that is out of the air. [aside] How pregnant sometimes his replies are. A happiness that often madness hits on, which reason and sanity could not so prosperously be delivered of. I will leave him and suddenly contrive the means of meeting between him and my daughter.— [to HAMLET] My honorable lord, I will most humbly take my leave of you.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

You cannot, sir, take from me any thing that I will more willingly part withal—except my life, except my life, except my life.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Fare you well, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

[aside] These tedious old fools!

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter.

POLONIUS

You go to seek the Lord Hamlet. There he is.

POLONIUS

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ROSENCRANTZ

God save you, sir!

ROSENCRANTZ

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POLONIUS exits.

GUILDENSTERN

My honored lord!

GUILDENSTERN

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ROSENCRANTZ

My most dear lord!

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

My excellent good friends! How dost thou, Guildenstern?Ah, Rosencrantz! Good lads, how do you both?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

As the indifferent children of the earth.

ROSENCRANTZ

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GUILDENSTERN

Happy, in that we are not overhappy.On Fortune’s cap we are not the very button.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Nor the soles of her shoes?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Neither, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Then you live about her waist, or in the middle of her favors?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Faith, her privates we.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

In the secret parts of Fortune? Oh, most true. She is astrumpet. What news?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

None, my lord, but that the world’s grown honest.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Then is doomsday near. But your news is not true. Let me question more in particular. What have you, my good friends, deserved at the hands of fortune that she sendsyou to prison hither?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Prison, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Denmark’s a prison.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Then is the world one.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

A goodly one, in which there are many confines, wards, and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ th’ worst.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

We think not so, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Why then, your ambition makes it one. ‘Tis too narrow for your mind.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I havebad dreams.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Which dreams indeed are ambition, for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

A dream itself is but a shadow.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Truly, and I hold ambition of so airy and light a quality that it is but a shadow’s shadow.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Then are our beggars bodies, and our monarchs and outstretched heroes the beggars’ shadows. Shall we to th’ court? For by my fay, I cannot reason.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

We’ll wait upon you.

ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

No such matter. I will not sort you with the rest of myservants, for, to speak to you like an honest man, I ammost dreadfully attended. But in the beaten way of friendship, what make you at Elsinore?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

To visit you, my lord, no other occasion.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks; but I thankyou, and sure, dear friends, my thanks are too dear a halfpenny. Were you not sent for? Is it your own inclining? Is it a free visitation? Come, come, deal justly with me. Come, come. Nay, speak.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

What should we say, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Why, any thing, but to th’ purpose. You were sent for, and there is a kind of confession in your looks which your modesties have not craft enough to color. I know the good king and queen have sent for you.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

To what end, my lord?

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

That you must teach me. But let me conjure you, by the rights of our fellowship, by the consonancy of our youth, by the obligation of our ever-preserved love, andby what more dear a better proposer could charge you withal: be even and direct with me whether you were sentfor or no.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

[to GUILDENSTERN] What say you?

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

[aside] Nay, then, I have an eye of you—If you love me,hold not off.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

My lord, we were sent for.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

I will tell you why. So shall my anticipation prevent your discovery, and your secrecy to the king and queen moult no feather. I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, forgone all custom of exercises, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor womanneither, though by your smiling you seem to say so.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

My lord, there was no such stuff in my thoughts.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Why did you laugh then, when I said “man delights not me”?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

To think, my lord, if you delight not in man, what Lenten entertainment the players shall receive from you.We coted them on the way, and hither are they coming tooffer you service.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

He that plays the king shall be welcome. His majesty shall have tribute of me. The adventurous knight shall use his foil and target, the lover shall not sigh gratis, the humorous man shall end his part in peace, the clown shall make those laugh whose lungs are tickle o’ th’ sear, and the lady shall say her mind freely, or the blank verse shall halt for ’t. What players are they?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Even those you were wont to take delight in, the tragedians of the city.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

How chances it they travel? Their residence, both in reputation and profit, was better both ways.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

I think their inhibition comes by the means of the lateinnovation.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Do they hold the same estimation they did when I was inthe city? Are they so followed?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

No, indeed are they not.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

How comes it? Do they grow rusty?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Nay, their endeavor keeps in the wonted pace. But thereis, sir, an eyrie of children, little eyases, that cry out on the top of question and are most tyrannically clapped for ’t. These are now the fashion, and so berattle the common stages—so they call them—that many wearing rapiers are afraid of goose quills and dare scarce come thither.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

What, are they children? Who maintains ‘em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players (as it is most like if their means are no better), their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own succession?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Faith, there has been much to do on both sides, and thenation holds it no sin to tar them to controversy. There was, for a while, no money bid for argument unlessthe poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Is ’t possible?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Oh, there has been much throwing about of brains.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Do the boys carry it away?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Ay, that they do, my lord. Hercules and his load too.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

It is not very strange. For my uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. ‘Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

HAMLET

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Trumpets sound offstage for the PLAYERS’ arrival.

GUILDENSTERN

There are the players.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come then. Th’ appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb—lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

In what, my dear lord?

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

I am but mad north-north-west. When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS enters.

POLONIUS

Well be with you, gentlemen.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Hark you, Guildenstern, and you too—at each ear a hearer. [indicates POLONIUS] That great baby you see there is not yet out of his swaddling-clouts

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Happily he’s the second time come to them, for they sayan old man is twice a child.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

[aside to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN] I will prophesyhe comes to tell me of the players. Mark it. [to POLONIUS] — You say right, sir. O’ Monday morning, ’twas so indeed.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

My lord, I have news to tell you.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

My lord, I have news to tell you. When Roscius was an actor in Rome—

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

The actors are come hither, my lord.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Buzz, buzz.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Upon my honor—

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Then came each actor on his ass—

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, scene individable,or poem unlimited. Seneca cannot be too heavy, nor Plautus too light. For the law of writ and the liberty, these are the only men.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

O Jephthah, judge of Israel, what a treasure hadst thou!

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

What a treasure had he, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Why, One fair daughter and no more,The which he lovèd passing well.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

[aside] Still on my daughter.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Am I not i’ th’ right, old Jephthah?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

If you call me Jephthah, my lord, I have a daughter that I love passing well.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Nay, that follows not.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

What follows, then, my lord?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Why, As by lot, God wot, and then, you know, It came to pass, as most like it was— The first row of the pious chanson will show you more, for look where my abridgement comes.

HAMLET

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The PLAYERS enter.

HAMLET

You are welcome, masters, welcome, all! —I am glad to see thee well. —Welcome, good friends. —O old friend? Why,thy face is valenced since I saw thee last. Comest thouto beard me in Denmark? —What, my young lady and mistress! By ‘r Lady, your ladyship is nearer to heaven than when I saw you last, by the altitude of a chopine. Pray God, your voice, like a piece of uncurrent gold, benot cracked within the ring. —Masters, you are all welcome. We’ll e’en to ’t like French falconers, fly at any thing we see. We’ll have a speech straight. Come, give us a taste of your quality. Come, a passionate speech.

HAMLET

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FIRST PLAYER

What speech, my good lord?

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

I heard thee speak me a speech once, but it was never acted. Or, if it was, not above once, for the play, I remember, pleased not the million. ‘Twas caviary to the general. But it was—as I received it, and others, whose judgments in such matters cried in the top of mine—an excellent play, well digested in the scenes, set down with as much modesty as cunning. I remember, one said there were no sallets in the lines to make the matter savory, nor no matter in the phrase that might indict the author of affectation, but called it an honest method, as wholesome as sweet, and by very much more handsome than fine. One speech in it I chiefly loved. ‘Twas Aeneas’ tale to Dido and thereabout of it, especially where he speaks of Priam’s slaughter. If it live in your memory, begin at this line—Let me see, let me see— The rugged Pyrrhus, like th’ Hyrcanian beast— It is not so. It begins with Pyrrhus— The rugged Pyrrhus, he whose sable arms, Black as his purpose, did the night resemble When he lay couchèd in the ominous horse, Hath now this dread and black complexion smeared With heraldry more dismal. Head to foot Now is he total gules, horridly tricked With blood of fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, Baked and impasted with the parching streets, That lend a tyrannous and damnèd light To their lord’s murder. Roasted in wrath and fire, And thus o’ersizèd with coagulate gore, With eyes like carbuncles, the hellish Pyrrhus Old grandsire Priam seeks. So, proceed you.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

‘Fore God, my lord, well spoken, with good accent and good discretion.

POLONIUS

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FIRST PLAYER

Anon he finds him Striking too short at Greeks. His antique sword, Rebellious to his arm, lies where it falls, Repugnant to command. Unequal matched, Pyrrhus at Priam drives, in rage strikes wide, But with the whiff and wind of his fell sword The unnerved father falls. Then senseless Ilium, Seeming to feel this blow, with flaming top Stoops to his base, and with a hideous crash Takes prisoner Pyrrhus’ ear. For, lo, his sword, Which was declining on the milky head Of reverend Priam, seemed i’ th’ air to stick. So as a painted tyrant Pyrrhus stood, And, like a neutral to his will and matter, Did nothing. But as we often see against some storm A silence in the heavens, the rack stand still, The bold winds speechless, and the orb below As hush as death, anon the dreadful thunder Doth rend the region. So, after Pyrrhus’ pause, Arousèd vengeance sets him new a-work. And never did the Cyclops’ hammers fall On Mars’s armor forged for proof eterne With less remorse than Pyrrhus’ bleeding sword Now falls on Priam. Out, out, thou strumpet Fortune! All you gods In general synod take away her power, Break all the spokes and fellies from her wheel, And bowl the round nave down the hill of heaven, As low as to the fiends!

FIRST PLAYER

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POLONIUS

This is too long.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

It shall to the barber’s, with your beard.—Prithee, sayon. He’s for a jig or a tale of bawdry, or he sleeps. Say on. Come to Hecuba.

HAMLET

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FIRST PLAYER

But who, ah woe, who had seen the moblèd queen—

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

“The moblèd queen?”

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

That’s good. “Moblèd queen” is good.

POLONIUS

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FIRST PLAYER

Run barefoot up and down, threatening the flames With bisson rheum, a clout upon that head Where late the diadem stood, and for a robe, About her lank and all o’erteemèd loins, A blanket, in the alarm of fear caught up— Who this had seen, with tongue in venom steeped, ‘Gainst fortune’s state would treason have pronounced. But if the gods themselves did see her then When she saw Pyrrhus make malicious sport In mincing with his sword her husband’s limbs, The instant burst of clamor that she made, (Unless things mortal move them not at all) Would have made milch the burning eyes of heaven, And passion in the gods.

FIRST PLAYER

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POLONIUS

Look whe’e he has not turned his color and has tears in’s eyes.—Prithee, no more.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

[to FIRST PLAYER] ‘Tis well. I’ll have thee speak out the rest soon. [to POLONIUS] Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be wellused, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles ofthe time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

My lord, I will use them according to their desert.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve,the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

Come, sirs.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Follow him, friends. We’ll hear a play tomorrow. [to FIRST PLAYER] — Dost thou hear me, old friend? Can you play The Murder of Gonzago?

HAMLET

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FIRST PLAYER

Ay, my lord.

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

We’ll ha ’t tomorrow night. You could, for a need, study a speech of some dozen or sixteen lines which I would set down and insert in ’t, could you not?

HAMLET

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FIRST PLAYER

Ay, my lord.

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

Very well. Follow that lord, and look you mock him not.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS and the PLAYERS exit.

HAMLET

My good friends, I’ll leave you till night. You are welcome to Elsinore.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Good my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Ay, so. Good-bye to you.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

HAMLET

Now I am alone. Oh, what a rogue and peasant slave am I! Is it not monstrous that this player here, But in a fiction, in a dream of passion, Could force his soul so to his own conceit That from her working all his visage wanned, Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect, A broken voice, and his whole function suiting With forms to his conceit? And all for nothing— For Hecuba! What’s Hecuba to him or he to Hecuba That he should weep for her? What would he do Had he the motive and the cue for passion That I have? He would drown the stage with tears And cleave the general ear with horrid speech, Make mad the guilty and appall the free, Confound the ignorant, and amaze indeed The very faculties of eyes and ears. Yet I, A dull and muddy-mettled rascal, peak Like John-a-dreams, unpregnant of my cause, And can say nothing—no, not for a king, Upon whose property and most dear life A damned defeat was made. Am I a coward? Who calls me “villain”? Breaks my pate across? Plucks off my beard and blows it in my face? Tweaks me by the nose? Gives me the lie i’ th’ throat As deep as to the lungs? Who does me this? Ha! ‘Swounds, I should take it, for it cannot be But I am pigeon-livered and lack gall To make oppression bitter, or ere this I should have fatted all the region kites With this slave’s offal. Bloody, bawdy villain! Remorseless, treacherous, lecherous, kindless villain! O vengeance! Why, what an ass am I! This is most brave, That I, the son of a dear father murdered, Prompted to my revenge by heaven and hell, Must, like a whore, unpack my heart with words And fall a-cursing like a very drab, A stallion! Fie upon ’t, foh! About, my brain.—Hum, I have heard That guilty creatures sitting at a play Have, by the very cunning of the scene, Been struck so to the soul that presently They have proclaimed their malefactions. For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak With most miraculous organ. I’ll have these players Play something like the murder of my father Before mine uncle. I’ll observe his looks. I’ll tent him to the quick. If he do blench, I know my course. The spirit that I have seen May be the devil, and the devil hath power T’ assume a pleasing shape. Yea, and perhaps Out of my weakness and my melancholy, As he is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me. I’ll have grounds More relative than this. The play’s the thing Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.

HAMLET

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HAMLET exits.

Hamlet
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Ben florman
About the Translator: Ben Florman

Ben is a co-founder of LitCharts. He holds a BA in English Literature from Harvard University, where as an undergraduate he won the Winthrop Sargent prize for best undergraduate paper on a topic related to Shakespeare.