~ Horatio ~
Elsinore is all astir,
rumors fly, and I must also stir,
to learn what has befallen.
To the chambers of the king I go,
thinking I will be hard put
to have my presence accepted,
but I enter in to find a hard speech
going on, and as I enter, I am all but ignored.
Rosencrantz speaks to the king,
who himself is greatly agitated.
“Where the dead body is bestowed, my lord,
we cannot get from him.”
Dead, dead? Who is dead?
“But where is he?” asks the king.
“Without, my lord; guarded, to know your pleasure.”
“Bring him before us.”
So enters my lord Hamlet, held at the shoulder
by Rosencrantz and Guildenstern,
in a way most unseemly for a prince.
“Now, Hamlet,” King Claudius entreats, “where's Polonius?”
Dear God, the harmless old man?
“At supper.” Hamlet answers.
“At supper! Where?”
“Not where he eats, but where he is eaten:
a certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him.
Your worm is your only emperor for diet:
we fat all creatures else to fat us,
and we fat ourselves for maggots:
your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service,
two dishes, but to one table: that's the end.
“Alas, alas!” cries Claudius.
“A man may fish with the worm,” the prince goes on,
“that has eaten of a king, and cat of the fish
that has fed of that worm.”
“What do you mean by this?”
“Nothing but to show you how a king
may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.”
“Where is Polonius?”
“In heaven; send hither to see: if your messenger
find him not there, seek him in the other place yourself.
But indeed, if you find him not within this month,
you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.”
Claudius turns to his attendants, his face pale and hard.
“Go seek him there.”
Hamlet’s words are dark with horrible cheer,
and I feel my own blood run cold.
“He will stay till you come.”