~ Hamlet ~
My father’s ghost returns.
Did he, too, think
I would exact revenge for him here tonight?
That it is my uncle there dead in the hangings?
But no, when my father’s shade speaks,
it is not to speak of Claudius.
“Do not forget,” he says.
“this visitation is but to whet your almost blunted purpose.
But, look, amazement on your mother sits:
oh, step between her and her fighting soul:
conceit in weakest bodies strongest works:
Speak to her, Hamlet.”
What was I thinking not so long ago?
Yes, that sadness upon my mother’s face
filled me too with sadness.
“How is it with you, lady?”
“Alas, how is it with you,” she questions in return,
“that you do bend your eye on vacancy
and with the incorporeal air do hold discourse?
Forth at your eyes your spirits wildly peep;
and, as the sleeping soldiers in the alarm,
your bedded hair, like life in excrements,
starts up, and stands on end. Oh gentle son,
upon the heat and flame of thy distemper
sprinkle cool patience. Whereon do you look?”
“On him, on him! Look you, how pale he glares!
His form and cause conjoined, preaching to stones,
would make them capable. Do not look upon me;
lest with this piteous action you convert
my stern effects: then what I have to do
will want true color; tears perchance for blood.”
“To whom do you speak this?” my mother asks.
“Do you see nothing there?”
“Nothing at all; yet all that is I see.”
“Nor did you nothing hear?”
“No, nothing but ourselves.”
“Why, look you there! Look, how it steals away!
My father, in his habit as he lived!
Look, where he goes, even now, out at the portal!”
“This the very coinage of your brain:
this bodiless creation ecstasy
is very cunning in.”
My pulse, as yours, does temperately keep time,
and makes as healthful music: it is not madness
that I have uttered: bring me to the test,
and I the matter will re-word; which madness
would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
lay not that mattering unction to your soul,
that not your trespass, but my madness speaks:
it will but skin and film the ulcerous place,
while rank corruption, mining all within,
infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven;
repent what's past; avoid what is to come.”
“Oh Hamlet,” she says, fresh tears in her eyes,
“thou hast cleft my heart in twain.”
“Oh, throw away the worser part of it,
and live the purer with the other half.”
I look down at Polonius;
Have I truly done this to him?
I wanted to spare her family being poisoned, like mine.
Instead I steal from her more.
“I do repent: but heaven has pleased it so,
to punish me with this and this with me,
that I must be their scourge and minister.
I will bestow him, and will answer well
the death I gave him. So, again, good night.
I must be cruel, only to be kind:
thus bad begins and worse remains behind.
I'll lug the guts into the neighbor room.
Mother, good night. Indeed this counselor
is now most still, most secret and most grave,
who was in life a foolish prating knave.
Come, sir, to draw toward an end with you.
Good night, mother.”