~ Horatio ~
I feel as a general must
when he stands before his lord,
ready to take orders
for the conducting of a war.
However outlandish the means
by which our state here in Denmark
has been now defined,
it stands now that all our structures
(the kingship not least)
are raised on false and treacherous ground.
If a king is to topple for his crimes,
how is that to be done?
His accuser is a shade;
his successor, all the court thinks mad.
I would that my lord Hamlet
would put aside all pretense now;
would stand forth as the prince
that our country has long loved,
and set this vile circumstance to rights.
But instead he calls for music,
and did I not restrain him,
might well prance a jig;
but nowhere is cool word and action
by which we should frame our course.
Claudius has killed for his crown,
of that now I have no doubt.
Oh foul crime!
But knowledge gained from beyond the pale
and proved by actors on a stage
is chancy metal with which to forge swords.
And the queen?
Is she also culpable in this?
If so, what then is her fate?
Our recent trouble and worry
of invasion from without
from Fortinbras of Norway;
what of that, and his treaty with Claudius?
Action, action is needed on all fronts,
and yet Hamlet seems not to care a jot.
His wars are being fought
on a landscape of the mind;
He would, I think, find justice
in dragging uncle, mother, ministers,
all to the same place of madness
in which he has lately played;
thinking then his task done,
and the chaos to all who live in Denmark
of no moment.
So no orders are forthcoming,
no resolution at hand.
Are we to go to bed then,
and pray in the oblivion of sleep
that angels shall set all to peace and order
for our waking eyes to find and embrace?
I have yet to see an angelic power
take the slightest interest in our woes.
I ask my lord Hamlet of all this,
and as if I had seen into the uncertain future,
his answer is as I had feared:
“Go to bed, good Horatio.
Mad shapes will play in these halls now,
squeaking like mice;
Perhaps we shall have some blood; see?
I believe I shall put on arms
before I go and kiss all goodnight.”