"Hamlet: Poem Unlimited"
Return to the Benefit Directory
~ Hamlet ~

Mother, these tears in your eyes
make me sad beyond words.
Why should you cry?
We cried together when my father died,
did we not?
I wish I could tell you my own tears
stung with relief as well as loss.
What a hard father, a hard husband we shared!
Even now he drives me,
his shade demanding justice, justice!
Where is justice in your tears?
Unless you weep because your heart
bears a crime upon it;
lust and murder,
covered over like sugar spread to obscure blood.
Why should I not push you,
grip you hard,
use you in rough honesty?
That is no different pain
than what your smiles and words of seeming care
have flogged me with for days, days, days.
But what is this?
Where are you looking?
The curtain by your bed, why mother!
It stirs, as perhaps a curtain of foliage
stirred, when death came to my father
in his garden!
Have you finished praying, uncle?
Oh, this would be a much better place
for the sending of a murderer to hell,
than the chapel would have been.
Do you have a sword?
By God, I do!
Blurry, blurry is the face there where the curtain parts;
am I crying now, to screen my sight with tears?
That is not how an avenger should look.
“How now! A rat? Dead, for a ducat, dead!”
My sword goes into something soft and hard both;
curtains and flesh; bone grazed along the way.
He gasps and cries; “Oh, I am slain!”
Now there are last words straight and to the point.
There, there now, a figure crumples to the floor.
How long have I dreamed of this?
“Oh me,” my mother cries, “what have you done?
“Nay, I know not: Is it the king?”
“Oh,” she cries again, “what a rash and bloody deed is this!”
“A bloody deed! Almost as bad, good mother,
as kill a king, and marry with his brother.”
“As kill a king!”
“Ay, lady, that was my word.”
Well, well, my hands are trembling as I lift the curtain
from where the falling wretch tore it,
bearing it down with him as he fell.
Uncle, uncle, are we on our way to hell together now?
But…it is not my uncle.
Dead indeed, but the empty eyes that stare up at me,
are those of Ophelia’s father.
“Oh you wretched, rash, intruding fool, farewell!
I took you for your better.”
My mother stares and stares;
why, is she not used to death by now,
having slept in a bed with its poisoned hands
caressing her?
“Leave wringing of your hands: peace!” I say,
“Sit you down, and let me wring your heart; for so I shall,
if it be made of penetrable stuff,
if damned custom has not brassed it so
that it is proof and bulwark against sense.”