~ Horatio ~
The air bites shrewdly; cold in the lungs
and chilling even the heart.
Beside me, Prince Hamlet peers into the dark
where the specter has but lately walked.
I thought his gaze intent enough
to pierce even night-black
and iron-shod gates of Hell.
His breath a frosty plume, he asks the hour;
I honestly cannot tell him,
for time has seemed out of joint,
since earlier I mounted these walls.
Then Marcellus calls out:
“Look my lord, it comes!”
Hamlet’s hands grip the stone of the casement
as if to crumble it.
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” he gasps.
It is like before: armored for war,
with eyes that brim in sadness.
It does not speak, but beckons.
I put a hand on my friend’s shoulder,
for he strains forward, and I think
would vault the wall into the abyss beyond,
did I not restrain him.
“Look,” I say, “with what insistence
it waves you to a more removed ground:
but do not go with it.”
“It will not speak.” Hamlet answers.
“Then I will follow it.”
“Do not, my lord.” I entreat him.
“What if it tempt you toward the flood,
to the dreadful summit of the cliff
that beetles over his base into the sea,
and there assume some other horrible form,
which might deprive your sovereignty of reason
and draw you into madness?”
Hamlet strains forward again,
so that Marcellus must aid me in holding him back.
His voice sharpened with anger,
our prince commands we hold off our hands;
saying his fate calls out; that he is summoned,
and he will himself make a ghost of any
that should deter him.
He breaks from us, following his father’s
most ghastly and unnatural shade;
his strength has desperation in it,
which in turn renders my own mind desperate.
Marcellus bids me ignore his command
to stand down and let be.
He implores us to follow our lord.
He need not say it to me more than once.
Though every artery in my body
feels frozen in fear, we must help him.
Truly, there is something rotten
in the state of Denmark.