A line-by-line translation

Hamlet

Hamlet Translation Act 3, Scene 2

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HAMLET and the PLAYERS enter.

HAMLET

Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue. But if you mouth it, as many of our players do, I had as lief the town crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand thus, but use all gently, for in the very torrent, tempest, and (as I may say) whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness. Oh, it offends me to the soul tohear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags, to split the ears of the groundlings, who for the most part are capable of nothing but inexplicable dumb-shows and noise. I would have such a fellow whipped for o’erdoing Termagant. It out-Herods Herod. Pray you, avoid it.

HAMLET

Please repeat the speech just as I said it to you—smoothly and easily. If you exaggerate it in the way so many current actors do, I’d rather have the town crier say the lines. Don’t make huge gestures with yours hands, like this. Gesture just a bit—because to truly communicate a whirlwind of passion, you must present it in a way that’s smooth and real. Oh, I absolutely hate it when I hear some overexcited actor in a wig shout his “passionate” lines—splitting the audience’s eardrums in an effort to impress the unsophisticated watchers standing just in front of the stage, who for the most part can only appreciate loud noises and pantomime shows. I would whip a guy for overdoing the part of a tyrant. That’s worse than those old plays in which King Herod ranted. Please, don’t do that.

FIRST PLAYER

I warrant your honor.

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

Be not too tame neither, but let your own discretion beyour tutor. Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance that you o’erstep not the modesty of nature. For anything so overdone is from the purpose of playing, whose end, bothat the first and now, was and is to hold, as ’twere, the mirror up to nature, to show virtue her own feature,scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure. Now this overdone or come tardy off, though it make the unskillful laugh, cannot but make the judicious grieve, the censure of the which one must in your allowance o’erweigh a whole theatre of others . Oh, there be players that I have seen play and heard others praise (and that highly), not to speak it profanely, that, neither having th’ accent of Christiansnor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature’s journeymen had made men and not made them well,they imitated humanity so abominably.

HAMLET

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FIRST PLAYER

I hope we have reformed that indifferently with us, sir.

FIRST PLAYER

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HAMLET

O, reform it altogether! And let those that play your clowns speak no more than is set down for them, for there be of them that will themselves laugh to set on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too, though in the meantime some necessary question of the play be then to be considered. That’s villainous, and shows a most pitiful ambition in the fool that uses it. Go, makeyou ready.

HAMLET

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The PLAYERS exit.

POLONIUS, GUILDENSTERN, and ROSENCRANTZ enter.

HAMLET

How now, my lord! Will the king hear this piece of work?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

And the queen too, and that presently.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Bid the players make haste.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS exits.

HAMLET

Will you two help to hasten them?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Ay, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN exit.

HAMLET

What ho, Horatio!

HAMLET

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HORATIO enters.

HORATIO

Here, sweet lord, at your service.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Horatio, thou art e’en as just a manAs e’er my conversation coped withal.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

O my dear lord—

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Nay, do not think I flatter. For what advancement may I hope from thee That no revenue hast but thy good spirits, To feed and clothe thee? Why should the poor be flattered? No, let the candied tongue lick absurd pomp, And crook the pregnant hinges of the knee Where thrift may follow fawning. Dost thou hear? Since my dear soul was mistress of her choice And could of men distinguish, her election Hath sealed thee for herself, for thou hast been— As one in suffering all that suffers nothing— A man that Fortune’s buffets and rewards Hast ta’en with equal thanks. And blessed are those Whose blood and judgment are so well commingled, That they are not a pipe for Fortune’s finger To sound what stop she please. Give me that man That is not passion’s slave, and I will wear him In my heart’s core, ay, in my heart of heart, As I do thee. —Something too much of this.— There is a play tonight before the king. One scene of it comes near the circumstance Which I have told thee of my father’s death. I prithee, when thou seest that act afoot, Even with the very comment of thy soul Observe mine uncle. If his occulted guilt Do not itself unkennel in one speech, It is a damnèd ghost that we have seen, And my imaginations are as foul As Vulcan’s stithy. Give him heedful note. For I mine eyes will rivet to his face, And after we will both our judgments join In censure of his seeming.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Well, my lord.If he steal aught the whilst this play is playing,And ’scape detecting, I will pay the theft.

HORATIO

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A Danish march plays. Trumpets play. CLAUDIUS enters with GERTRUDE, POLONIUS, OPHELIA, ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and other lords attendant with CLAUDIUS ’s guard carrying torches.

HAMLET

They are coming to the play. I must be idle.Get you a place.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

How fares our cousin Hamlet?

CLAUDIUS

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HAMLET

Excellent, i’ faith, of the chameleon’s dish. I eat theair, promise-crammed. You cannot feed capons so.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

I have nothing with this answer, Hamlet. These words are not mine.

CLAUDIUS

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HAMLET

No, nor mine now.

[to POLONIUS] My lord, you played once i’ th’ university, you say?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

That did I, my lord, and was accounted a good actor.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

What did you enact?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i’ th’ Capitol.Brutus killed me.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.—Be the players ready?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Ay, my lord. They stay upon your patience.

ROSENCRANTZ

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GERTRUDE

Come hither, my dear Hamlet, sit by me.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

No, good mother. Here’s metal more attractive. [sits next to OPHELIA]

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

[to CLAUDIUS] Oh, ho, do you mark that?

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Lady, shall I lie in your lap?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

No, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

I mean, my head upon your lap?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Ay, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Do you think I meant country matters?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

I think nothing, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

That’s a fair thought to lie between maids’ legs.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

What is, my lord?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Nothing.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

You are merry, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Who, I?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Ay, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

O God, your only jig-maker. What should a man do but bemerry? For, look you, how cheerfully my mother looks, and my father died within these two hours.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Nay, ’tis twice two months, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

So long? Nay then, let the devil wear black, for I’ll have a suit of sables. O heavens! Die two months ago andnot forgotten yet? Then there’s hope a great man’s memory may outlive his life half a year. But, by ‘r Lady, he must build churches then, or else shall he suffer not thinking on, with the hobby-horse, whose epitaph is “For, oh, for, oh, the hobby-horse is forgot.”

HAMLET

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Trumpets play. The pantomime begins. A king and queen enter and embrace each other lovingly. She kneels before him and makes a show of her devotion to him. He lifts her up and rests his head on her neck, then lies down on a bank of flowers. She sees he is asleep, and leaves. Soon another man enters, takes the crown off the sleeping king’s head and kisses it, then pours poison in the king’s ear, and exits. The queen returns and finds the king dead. She weeps passionately. The killer returns, along with three others, and pretends to grieve with the queen. The dead body is carried away. The killer woos the queen with gifts. For a while she is cold and unwilling, but eventually accepts his advances.

The PLAYERS exit.

OPHELIA

What means this, my lord?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Marry, this is miching mallecho. It means mischief.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Belike this show imports the argument of the play.

OPHELIA

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The actor who will introduce the play enters.

HAMLET

We shall know by this fellow. The players cannot keep counsel. They’ll tell all.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Will he tell us what this show meant?

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

Ay, or any show that you will show him. Be not you ashamed to show, he’ll not shame to tell you what it means.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the play.

OPHELIA

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PROLOGUE

For us and for our tragedy,Here stooping to your clemency,We beg your hearing patiently.

PROLOGUE

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The PROLOGUE exits.

HAMLET

Is this a prologue or the posy of a ring?

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

‘Tis brief, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

As woman’s love.

HAMLET

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Actors playing the roles of KING and QUEEN enter.

PLAYER KING

Full thirty times hath Phoebus’ cart gone round Neptune’s salt wash and Tellus’ orbèd ground, And thirty dozen moons with borrowed sheen About the world have times twelve thirties been, Since love our hearts and Hymen did our hands Unite commutual in most sacred bands.

PLAYER KING

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PLAYER QUEEN

So many journeys may the sun and moon Make us again count o’er ere love be done. But woe is me! You are so sick of late, So far from cheer and from your former state, That I distrust you. Yet though I distrust, Discomfort you, my lord, it nothing must. For women fear too much, even as they love, And women’s fear and love hold quantity, In neither aught, or in extremity. Now what my love is, proof hath made you know, And as my love is sized, my fear is so: Where love is great, the littlest doubts are fear. Where little fears grow great, great love grows there.

PLAYER QUEEN

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PLAYER KING

Faith, I must leave thee, love, and shortly too. My operant powers their functions leave to do. And thou shalt live in this fair world behind, Honored, beloved, and haply one as kind For husband shalt thou—

PLAYER KING

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PLAYER QUEEN

Oh, confound the rest! Such love must needs be treason in my breast. In second husband let me be accursed! None wed the second but who killed the first.

PLAYER QUEEN

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HAMLET

[aside] Wormwood, wormwood.

HAMLET

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PLAYER QUEEN

The instances that second marriage move Are base respects of thrift, but none of love. A second time I kill my husband dead When second husband kisses me in bed.

PLAYER QUEEN

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PLAYER KING

I do believe you think what now you speak, But what we do determine oft we break. Purpose is but the slave to memory, Of violent birth, but poor validity, Which now, like fruit unripe, sticks on the tree, But fall, unshaken, when they mellow be. Most necessary ’tis that we forget To pay ourselves what to ourselves is debt. What to ourselves in passion we propose, The passion ending, doth the purpose lose. The violence of either grief or joy Their own enactures with themselves destroy. Where joy most revels, grief doth most lament. Grief joys, joy grieves on slender accident. This world is not for aye, nor ’tis not strange That even our loves should with our fortunes change. For ’tis a question left us yet to prove, Whether love lead fortune, or else fortune love. The great man down, you mark his favorite flies. The poor advanced makes friends of enemies. And hitherto doth love on fortune tend, For who not needs shall never lack a friend, And who in want a hollow friend doth try, Directly seasons him his enemy. But, orderly to end where I begun, Our wills and fates do so contrary run That our devices still are overthrown. Our thoughts are ours, their ends none of our own. So think thou wilt no second husband wed, But die thy thoughts when thy first lord is dead.

PLAYER KING

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PLAYER QUEEN

Nor earth to me give food, nor heaven light. Sport and repose lock from me day and night. To desperation turn my trust and hope. An anchor’s cheer in prison be my scope. Each opposite that blanks the face of joy Meet what I would have well and it destroy. Both here and hence pursue me lasting strife If, once a widow, ever I be wife!

PLAYER QUEEN

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HAMLET

If she should break it now!

HAMLET

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PLAYER KING

‘Tis deeply sworn. Sweet, leave me here awhile.My spirits grow dull, and fain I would beguileThe tedious day with sleep.

PLAYER KING

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The PLAYER KING sleeps.

PLAYER QUEEN

Sleep rock thy brain,And never come mischance between us twain.

PLAYER QUEEN

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The PLAYER QUEEN exits.

HAMLET

Madam, how like you this play?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

The lady protests too much, methinks.

GERTRUDE

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HAMLET

Oh, but she’ll keep her word.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

Have you heard the argument? Is there no offense in ’t?

CLAUDIUS

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HAMLET

No, no, they do but jest. Poison in jest. No offense i’th’ world.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS

What do you call the play?

CLAUDIUS

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HAMLET

The Mousetrap. Marry, how? Tropically. This play is theimage of a murder done in Vienna. Gonzago is the duke’sname, his wife Baptista. You shall see anon. ‘Tis a knavish piece of work, but what o’ that? Your majesty and we that have free souls, it touches us not. Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unwrung.

HAMLET

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LUCIANUS enters.

HAMLET

This is one Lucianus, nephew to the king.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

You are as good as a chorus, my lord.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

I could interpret between you and your love, if I couldsee the puppets dallying.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

You are keen, my lord, you are keen.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

It would cost you a groaning to take off mine edge.

HAMLET

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OPHELIA

Still better and worse.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

So you must take your husbands.—Begin, murderer. Pox, leave thy damnable faces, and begin. Come, “The croakingraven doth bellow for revenge—”

HAMLET

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LUCIANUS

Thoughts black, hands apt, drugs fit, and time agreeing, Confederate season, else no creature seeing, Thou mixture rank, of midnight weeds collected, With Hecate’s ban thrice blasted, thrice infected, Thy natural magic and dire property On wholesome life usurp immediately. [pours poison into PLAYER KING ’s ears]

LUCIANUS

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HAMLET

He poisons him i’ th’ garden for ’s estate. His name’s Gonzago. The story is extant, and writ in choice Italian. You shall see anon how the murderer gets the love of Gonzago’s wife.

HAMLET

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CLAUDIUS stands up.

OPHELIA

The king rises.

OPHELIA

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HAMLET

What, frighted with false fire?

HAMLET

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GERTRUDE

How fares my lord?

GERTRUDE

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POLONIUS

Give o’er the play.

POLONIUS

Lorem ipsum do

CLAUDIUS

Give me some light, away!

CLAUDIUS

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POLONIUS

Lights, lights, lights!

POLONIUS

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Everyone except HAMLET and HORATIO exits.

HAMLET

Why, let the stricken deer go weep, The hart ungallèd play. For some must watch while some must sleep. So runs the world away. Would not this, sir, and a forest of feathers—if the rest of my fortunes turn Turk with me—with two Provincial roses on my razed shoes, get me a fellowship in a cry of players?

HAMLET

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Lorem ipsum Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut al

HORATIO

Half a share.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

A whole one, I. For thou dost know, O Damon dear, This realm dismantled was Of Jove himself. And now reigns here A very, very—pajock.

HAMLET

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HORATIO

You might have rhymed.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

O good Horatio, I’ll take the ghost’s word for a thousand pound. Didst perceive?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

Very well, my lord.

HORATIO

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HAMLET

Upon the talk of the poisoning?

HAMLET

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HORATIO

I did very well note him.

HORATIO

Lorem ipsum dolor sit

HAMLET

Ah ha! Come, some music! Come, the recorders! For if the king like not the comedy, Why then, belike, he likes it not, perdy. Come, some music!

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter.

GUILDENSTERN

Good my lord, vouchsafe me a word with you.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Sir, a whole history.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

The king, sir—

GUILDENSTERN

Lorem ipsum do

HAMLET

Ay, sir, what of him?

HAMLET

Lorem ipsum dolor si

GUILDENSTERN

Is in his retirement marvelous distempered.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

With drink, sir?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

No, my lord, with choler.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Your wisdom should show itself more richer to signify this to the doctor. For, for me to put him to his purgation would perhaps plunge him into far more choler.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Good my lord, put your discourse into some frame and start not so wildly from my affair.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

I am tame, sir. Pronounce.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

The queen your mother, in most great affliction of spirit, hath sent me to you.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

You are welcome.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

Nay, good my lord, this courtesy is not of the right breed. If it shall please you to make me a wholesome answer, I will do your mother’s commandment. If not, your pardon and my return shall be the end of my business.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Sir, I cannot.

HAMLET

Lorem ipsum d

GUILDENSTERN

What, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN

Lorem ipsum dolor si

HAMLET

Make you a wholesome answer. My wit’s diseased. But, sir, such answer as I can make, you shall command. Or, rather, as you say, my mother. Therefore no more but to the matter. My mother, you say—

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Then thus she says: your behavior hath struck her into amazement and admiration.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

O wonderful son that can so ’stonish a mother! But is there no sequel at the heels of this mother’s admiration? Impart.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

She desires to speak with you in her closet ere you go to bed.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

We shall obey, were she ten times our mother. Have you any further trade with us?

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

My lord, you once did love me.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

And do still, by these pickers and stealers.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

Good my lord, what is your cause of distemper? You do surely bar the door upon your own liberty if you deny your griefs to your friend.

ROSENCRANTZ

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HAMLET

Sir, I lack advancement.

HAMLET

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ROSENCRANTZ

How can that be, when you have the voice of the king himself for your succession in Denmark?

ROSENCRANTZ

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The PLAYERS enter with recorders.

HAMLET

Ay, sir, but “While the grass grows—” The proverb is something musty—Oh, the recorders! Let me see one. [takes a recorder] [aside to ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN] To withdraw with you, why do you go about to recover the wind of me as if you would drive me into a toil?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

O my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

My lord, I cannot.

GUILDENSTERN

Lorem ipsum dolor

HAMLET

I pray you.

HAMLET

Lorem i

GUILDENSTERN

Believe me, I cannot.

GUILDENSTERN

Lorem ipsum dolor si

HAMLET

I do beseech you.

HAMLET

Lorem ipsu

GUILDENSTERN

I know no touch of it, my lord.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

It is as easy as lying. Govern these ventages with yourfingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.

HAMLET

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GUILDENSTERN

But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony.I have not the skill.

GUILDENSTERN

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HAMLET

Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me!You would play upon me. You would seem to know my stops. You would pluck out the heart of my mystery. You would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass. And there is much music, excellent voice, in this little organ, yet cannot you make it speak? ‘Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than apipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you cannot play upon me.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS enters.

HAMLET

God bless you, sir.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

My lord, the queen would speak with you, and presently.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Do you see yonder cloud that’s almost in shape of a camel?

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

By th’ mass, and ’tis like a camel indeed.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Methinks it is like a weasel.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

It is backed like a weasel.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Or like a whale.

HAMLET

Lorem ipsum dolo

POLONIUS

Very like a whale.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

Then I will come to my mother by and by. [aside] They fool me to the top of my bent.—I will come by and by.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS

I will say so.

POLONIUS

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HAMLET

“By and by” is easily said.

HAMLET

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POLONIUS exits.

HAMLET

Leave me, friends.

HAMLET

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Everyone except HAMLET exits.

HAMLET

‘Tis now the very witching time of night, When churchyards yawn and hell itself breathes out Contagion to this world. Now could I drink hot blood And do such bitter business as the bitter day Would quake to look on. Soft, now to my mother.— O heart, lose not thy nature, let not ever The soul of Nero enter this firm bosom. Let me be cruel, not unnatural. I will speak daggers to her but use none. My tongue and soul in this be hypocrites. How in my words somever she be shent, To give them seals never, my soul, consent!

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.