|Ophelia, by Arthur Hughes|
William Shakespeare (1564–1616). The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
Vol. 46, pp. 176-183 of The Harvard Classics
Do you know the rest of Ophelia's famous line? "Hamlet" is the most popular play in the entire world. It has been quoted so often that reading it is like meeting an old friend.
(Edwin Booth, famed Shakespearian actor, died June 7, 1893.)
[Elsinore. A room in the castle]
Enter QUEEN, HORATIO [and a Gentleman]
Enter QUEEN, HORATIO [and a Gentleman]
Queen. I will not speak with her.
[Gent.] She is importunate, indeed distract.
Her mood will needs be pitied.
Queen. What would she have?
[Gent.] She speaks much of her father; says she hears
There’s tricks i’ the world, and hems, and beats her heart,
Spurns enviously 1 at straws, speaks things in doubt
That carry but half sense. Her speech is nothing,
Yet the unshaped use of it doth move
The hearers to collection. 2 They aim at it
And botch 3 the words up fit to their own thoughts;
Which, as her winks, and nods, and gestures yield them,
Indeed would make one think there would be thought,
Though nothing sure, yet much unhappily.
[Hor.] ’Twere good she were spoken with, for she may strew
Dangerous conjectures in ill-breeding minds.
Let her come in. [Exit Gentleman.
Queen. [Aside.] To my sick soul, as sin’s true nature is,
Each toy 4 seems prologue to some great amiss; 5
So full of artless jealousy 6 is guilt,
It spills itself in fearing to be spilt.
Enter OPHELIA, distracted
Oph. Where is the beauteous majesty of Denmark?
Queen. How now, Ophelia!
“How should I your true love know
From another one?
By his cockle hat 7 and staff,
And his sandal shoon.”Queen. Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song?
Oph. Say you? Nay, pray you, mark. [Sings.]
“He is dead and gone, lady,
He is dead and gone;
At his head a grass-green turf
At his heels a stone.”
Queen. Nay, but, Ophelia,—
Oph. Pray you, mark. [Sings.]
“White his shroud as the mountain snow,”—Queen. Alas, look here, my lord.
“Larded 8 with sweet flowers;
Which bewept to the grave did not go
With true-love showers.”King. How do you, pretty lady?
Oph. Well, God ild you! They say the owl was a baker’s daughter. Lord, we know what we are, but know not what we may be. God be at your table!
King. Conceit 9 upon her father.
Oph. Pray you, let’s have no words of this, but when they ask you what it means, say you this: [Sings.]
“To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s day,
All in the morning betime,
And I a maid at your window,
To be your Valentine.
“Then up he rose and donn’d his clothes,
And dupp’d 10 the chamber door;
Let in the maid, that out a maid
Never departed more.”King. Pretty Ophelia!
Oph. Indeed, la, without an oath I’ll make an end on’t.
“By Gis, 11 and by Saint Charity,
Alack! and, fie for shame!
Young men will do’t, if they come to ’t;
By Cock, 12 they are to blame.
“Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me,
You promis’d me to wed.’
‘So would I ha’ done, by yonder sun,
An thou hadst not come to my bed.’ ”King. How long hath she been thus?
Oph. I hope all will be well. We must be patient; but I cannot choose but weep, to think they should lay him i’ the cold ground. My brother shall know of it; and so I thank you for your good counsel. Come, my coach! Good-night, ladies; good-night, sweet ladies; good-night, good-night. Exit.
King. Follow her close; give her good watch, I pray you. [Exeunt some.]
O, this is the poison of deep grief; it springs
All from her father’s death. O Gertrude, Gertrude,
When sorrows come, they come not single spies,
But in battalions. First, her father slain;
Next, your son gone; and he most violent author
Of his own just remove; the people muddied,
Thick and unwholesome in their thoughts and whispers,
For good Polonius’ death; and we have done but greenly
In hugger-mugger 13 to inter him; poor Ophelia
Divided from herself and her fair judgement,
Without the which we are pictures, or mere beasts;
Last, and as much containing as all these,
Her brother is in secret come from France,
Feeds on his wonder, keeps himself in clouds,
And wants not buzzers to infect his ear
With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,
Wherein necessity, of matter beggar’d,
Will nothing stick our persons to arraign
In ear and ear. O my dear Gertrude, this,
Like to a murdering-piece, 14 in many places
Gives me superfluous death. A noise within.
Enter a Messenger
Queen. Alack, what noise is this?
King. Where are my Switzers? 15 Let them guard the door. What is the matter?
Mess. Save yourself, my lord!
The ocean, overpeering of his list, 16
Eats not the flats with more impetuous haste
Than young Laertes, in a riotous head, 17
O’erbears your officers. The rabble call him lord;
And, as the world were now but to begin,
Antiquity forgot, custom not known,
(The ratifiers and props of every word,)
They cry, “Choose we! Laertes shall be king!”
Caps, hands, and tongues applaud it to the clouds,
“Laertes shall be king, Laertes king!”
Queen. How cheerfully on the false trail they cry!
O, this is counter, 18 you false Danish dogs!
Enter LAERTES [armed; Danes following]
King. The doors are broke. Noise within.
Laer. Where is this king? Sirs, stand you all without.
Danes. No, let’s come in.
Laer. I pray you, give me leave.
Danes. We will, we will. [They retire without the door.]
Laer. I thank you; keep the door. O thou vile king,
Give me my father!
Queen. Calmly, good Laertes.
Laer. That drop of blood that’s calm proclaims me bastard,
Cries cuckold to my father, brands the harlot
Even here, between the chaste unsmirched brows
Of my true mother.
King. What is the cause, Laertes,
That thy rebellion looks so giant-like?
Let him go, Gertrude; do not fear our person.
There’s such divinity doth hedge a king,
That treason can but peep to what it would,
Acts little of his will. Tell me, Laertes,
Why thou art thus incens’d. Let him go, Gertrude.
Laer. Where’s my father?
Queen. But not by him.
King. Let him demand his fill.
Laer. How came he dead? I’ll not be juggl’d with.
To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the blackest devil!
Conscience and grace, to the profoundest pit!
I dare damnation. To this point I stand,
That both the worlds I give to negligence,
Let come what comes; only I’ll be reveng’d
Most throughly for my father.
King. Who shall stay you?
Laer. My will, not all the world.
And for my means, I’ll husband them so well,
They shall go far with little.
King. Good Laertes,
If you desire to know the certainty
Of your dear father’s death, is’t writ in your revenge
That, swoopstake, 19 you will draw both friend and foe,
Winner and loser?
Laer. None but his enemies.
King. Will you know them then?
Laer. To his good friends thus wide I’ll ope my arms,
And like the kind life-rend’ring pelican,
Repast them with my blood.
King. Why, now you speak
Like a good child and a true gentleman.
That I am guiltless of your father’s death,
And am most sensibly in grief for it,
It shall as level to your judgement pierce
As day does to your eye.
A noise within: “Let her come in!”
Laer. How now! what noise is that?
O heat, dry up my brains! Tears seven times salt
Burn out the sense and virtue of mine eye!
By heaven, thy madness shall be paid by weight
Till our scale turns the beam. O rose of May!
Dear maid, kind sister, sweet Ophelia!
O heavens! is’t possible, a young maid’s wits
Should be as mortal as an old man’s life?
Nature is fine 20 in love, and where ’tis fine,
It sends some precious instance 21 of itself
After the thing it loves.
“They bore him barefac’d on the bier;
Hey non nonny, nonny, hey nonny;
And on his grave rains many a tear,”—Fare you well, my dove!
Laer. Hadst thou thy wits and didst persuade revenge,
It could not move thus.
Oph. You must sing, “Down a-down, and you call him a-down-a.” O, how the wheel becomes it! 22 It is the false steward, that stole his master’s daughter.
Laer. This nothing’s more than matter.
Oph. There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts.
Laer. A document in madness, thoughts and remembrance fitted.
Oph. There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father died. They say he made a good end,— [Sings.]
“For bonny sweet Robin is all my joy.”Laer. Thought 23 and affliction, passion, hell itself, She turns to favour and to prettiness.
“And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead;
Go to thy death-bed;
He never will come again.
“His beard as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan.
God ha’ mercy on his soul!”And of all Christian souls, I pray God. God buy ye. Exit.
Laer. Do you see this, you gods?
King. Laertes, I must commune with your grief,
Or you deny me right. Go but apart,
Make choice of whom your wisest friends you will,
And they shall hear and judge ’twixt you and me.
If by direct or by collateral hand
They find us touch’d, 24 we will our kingdom give,
Our crown, our life, and all that we call ours,
To you in satisfaction; but if not,
Be you content to lend your patience to us,
And we shall jointly labour with your soul
To give it due content.
Laer. Let this be so.
His means of death, his obscure burial—
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment 25 o’er his bones,
No noble rite nor formal ostentation—
Cry to be heard, as ’t were from heaven to earth,
That I must call ’t in question.
King. So you shall;
And where the offence is let the great axe fall.
I pray you, go with me. Exeunt.
Note 2. Inference.
Note 3. Patch together.
Note 4. Trifle.
Note 5. Misfortune.
Note 6. Suspicion.
Note 7. Hat with a cockle-shell—the sign of a pilgrim to the shrine of St. James of Compostella.
Note 8. Garnished.
Note 9. Thought.
Note 10. Opened.
Note 11. Disguised oath: Jesus.
Note 12. Corruption of “God.”
Note 13. Secretly.
Note 14. Cannon loaded with grape-shot.
Note 15. Swiss mercenaries, used as a bodyguard.
Note 16. Boundary.
Note 17. Armed force.
Note 18. Hunting in the wrong direction.
Note 19. Taking everything in.
Note 20. Delicate.
Note 21. Token, sample.
Note 22. How well the song goes to the spinning-wheel.
Note 23. Brooding, melancholy thought.
Note 24. Implicated.
Note 25. Escutcheon.