~ Gertrude ~


Claudius smiles,
all joy, like a man in triumph,
and I dare to hope
that at last
our house may take shape
to mirror and nurture that joy.
Handsome and full of life,
where his brother was hard
and so loved the dealing of death.
God, how I loathe to see war hovering,
skull-faced and winged
like a plague-raven
on our borders.
Harsh legacy
of the man whom I thought
the very body of courage and strength
when he took me young to his bed
and then raised me up beside him,
throne by throne.
War, war, war,
this last the still-ringing echo
of his eager violence,
and the killing
of the King of Norway’s son in a duel.
Who would have thought
that he so soon would follow
his dead adversary;
leaving us in the wrack
of his own untimely dying?
But now my second husband
speaks all of peace
to Old Norway and Fortinbras, his grandson.
May it come, God, may it come.
Ah, how I long to laugh and dance tonight
in celebration of my new marriage
and the dream that when winter ends,
it will be to a peaceful spring.
Where is my son?
Why will he not step here to my side
and whirl me across the floor
in the evening’s first dance?
But no, there he stands in the shadows,
clad all in sable black.
Oh Hamlet,
cast off your nighted color
and let your eye look like a friend
on Denmark.
Your home, your world,
peopled with those who love you.
Do not forever with your veiled lids
seek for what has gone to dust.
It is common;
all that live must die,
passing through nature to eternity.
But why
must it be so particular with you?
Your father, I think, is to blame,
who would have made you bloody soldier;
his sworded right hand.
He chided you often enough
for your studious ways.
And what has that made you?
No soldier of death,
but a student of death;
a dreamer of night-dark shores;
of sighs, and partings.
I would, my dear son,
so love to see such clouds
lift from your face;
so love to see you smile this night.