~ Horatio ~
All about me is agitation!
The queen grows troubled and seeming angry;
Polonius stares hard at the stage.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern flit their gaze to and fro.
My lord Hamlet goes from one to another,
like a spark striving to kindle a blaze.
And the king…
as the players enact the poisoning,
Claudius grows ashen.
“The king rises.” Ophelia whispers.
“What, frighted with false fire!” cries the prince.
“How fares my lord?” questions the queen.
“Give over the play.” Polonius orders.
Claudius has indeed risen;
the center of this storm of sudden trouble.
“Give me some light: away!” he shouts.
And all echo him: “Lights, lights, lights!”
Then there is chaos,
as the king rushes from the room,
and all others exit, scattering.
Only Prince Hamlet and myself remain.
He comes to me, his countenance hard.
“Why, let the stricken deer go weep,” says he,
“The hart ungalled 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, sir?”
“Half a share.” I say to him.
He nods, a half-smile hovering on his lips.
“A whole one, I.” he answers.
“Oh good Horatio,
I'll take the ghost's word for a thousand pound.
Did you perceive?”
“Very well, my lord.”
“Upon the talk of the poisoning?”
“I did very well note him.”
The half-smile becomes a grin;
seeming, once again, a slip into madness,
or at least triumph that pains
as much as pleasures.
“Ah, ha!” he laughs.
“Come, some music! Come, the recorders!
For if the king like not the comedy,
why then, belike, he likes it not, by God.
Come, some music!”