Claudius now speaks to me,
and I hear his voice as if a muttering, a gibbering.
“Hamlet, after this deed, for your safety,
which we do tender, as we dearly grieve
for that which you have done, we must send you hence
with fiery quickness: therefore prepare yourself;
the bark is ready, and the wind at help,
the associates tend, and every thing is bent
“Ay, Hamlet,” says he,
and I feel wheels turning, whether to speed me away,
or run me under, it is difficult to tell.
But this, clearly no sudden whim of my uncle’s,
may yet serve to give me time
to regroup my own damaged purpose.
“Good,” I tell him.
“So is it,” he says, with relief in his manner,
“if you knew our purposes.”
“I see a cherub that sees them. But, come; for
England! Farewell, dear mother.”
“Your loving father, Hamlet.”
“My mother: father and mother is man and wife; man
and wife is one flesh; and so, my mother. Come, for England!”
I see Horatio in a corner of the room,
his face sad, and troubled.
I would speak to him, but we are all action now;
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern escort me with haste
and attention more like to a prisoner than their prince;
but I let them do it, for I am glad to be gone.
So it is that with dawn’s cold light
I am far from Elsinore, making for the harbor
that will take me yet farther from home.
As we make our way, I aware that my schoolfellows
regard me now with eyes that will not meet mine;
though they are natural dissemblers,
still I wonder what instructions, unknown to me,
they bear from my uncle.
But I am distracted from this, as we top a hill,
and below, to my amazement, I see the movement
of a great body of armed men.
A captain stands on the hill watching them pass,
and though my companions bid me to speed away,
I must have words with him.
“Good sir, whose powers are these?”
“They are of Norway, sir,” he answers.
“How purposed, sir, I pray you?”
“Against some part of Poland.”
“Who commands them, sir?”
“The nephew to old Norway, Fortinbras.”
“Goes it against the main of Poland, sir, or for some frontier?
“Truly to speak, and with no addition,
we go to gain a little patch of ground
that has in it no profit but the name.
to pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
a ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.”
So this is my uncle’s pact with Fortinbras,
so recently our enemy.
To let him cross Denmark to attack Poland,
rather than us.
But there is more in this, I think,
than deaths to come on the Polish border.
Rosencrantz tugs at my sleeve. “Will it please you go, my lord?”
“I'll be with you straight go a little before.”
They move ahead most hesitantly,
and Norway’s army also passes away, till I am alone at last.
How all occasions do inform against me, and spur my dull revenge!
What is a man, if his chief good and market of his time
be but to sleep and feed? A beast, no more.
Sure, he that made us with such large discourse,
looking before and after,
gave us not that capability and god-like reason
to lay within us unused.
Now, whether it be bestial oblivion, or some craven scruple
of thinking too precisely on the event,
a thought which, quartered, has but one part wisdom
and ever three parts coward, I do not know
why yet I live to say 'This thing's to do;'
other than that I have cause and will and strength and means to do it.
Examples gross as earth exhort me:
witness this army of such mass and charge.
How stand I then,
that have a father killed, a mother stained,
excitements of my reason and my blood, and let all sleep?
While, to my shame, I see the imminent death of twenty thousand men,
that, for a fantasy and trick of fame, go to their graves like beds,
fight for a plot whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
which is not tomb enough and continent to hide the slain?
Oh, from this time forth, my thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!