"Grieve not for the dead.
It shows a will most incorrect to heaven."
What may we make of him who birthed these lines,
and, in his mad stinking London,
committed them to paper and the voice of me, his villain?
Was our Shakespeare a Will most incorrect to heaven?
Had he the liberty, what Hamlet had he writ?
A true opponent, not just to me, but to the natural ordering
of the spheres and of the mind?
A youth, perhaps, who though as cautious as could be in action,
were o'er-rash in fantasy.
SCENE I. Elsinore. A platform before the castle.
Enter a GHOST, pursued by HAMLET.
Interloper, abandon this strange prank,
which makes cruel use of the blindness of my grief,
and the good heart of my good friend Horatio.
Or else, if thou hast true title to this belov'd form,
What drawing did I present to Hamlet King,
when six years old and scarce out of my sling?
'twas a unicorn clad all in mail.
Open your eyes and mark me.
Mine eyes are open, father.
My hour is almost come,
When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Thou art in torment!
Ay, as are all who die unshriven.
Like every Dane this is what I've been taught.
Yet I did figure such caprice ill-suited to almighty God.
For all who suffer unlook'd for deaths, unattended by God's chosen priests,
to be then punish'd for the ill-ordering of the world...
'twas not the world that killed me, nor accident of any kind.
If thou didst ever thy dear father love,
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
My time grows ever shorter. Wilt thou hear the tale?
My love for thee does call me to revenge,
but greater crimes have I heard told this night.
If all those murdered go to hell, and others as well,
who would have confess'd had they the time,
If people who are, in balance, good, suffer grisly
at the hands of God, then I defy God's plan.
Good Ghost, as one who dwells beyond the veil,
thou know'st things we mortals scarce conceive.
Tell me: is there some philter or device,
outside nature's ken but not outside her means,
by which death itself may be escap'd?
Thou seek'st to avoid hell?
I seek to deny hell to everyone, and make of it a void!
Heaven too, for I suspect the heaven of our mad God
might be a paltry thing, next to the heaven I will make of earth,
when I am its immortal king.
I care not for these things.
Death and hell have stripp'd away all of my desires,
save for revenge upon my murderer.
[Aside]As with a fishmonger upon the river Elbe, must now I haggle with a ghost?
This creature once was kin.
Thou shalt not be avenged, save that thou swear:
an I slay thine killer, so wilt thou vouchsafe to me the means
by which I might slay death.
He who killed thee wilt join thee in the Pit,
and then that's it. No further swelling of hell's ranks will I permit.
Done. When my brother is slain, he who poured the poison in mine ear,
then will I pour in thine the precious truth:
the making of the Philosopher's Stone. With this Stone, thou may'st procure
a philter to render any man immune to death, and more transmute
base metal to gold, to fund the provision of this philter to all mankind.
Truly there is nothing beyond the dreaming of philosophy.
The man whom I must kill--my uncle the king!
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts--
Indeed, he has such gifts I near despair
of killing him and yet succeeding to his throne.
'twill be an awesome fight for awesome stakes.
Hast thou advice?
A cock crows. Exit GHOST.
O, o, o, o!
SCENE II. Another part of the platform.
Enter HAMLET and HORATIO.
Spake he to your lordship?
I knew it!
No mask could counterfeit so perfect a countenance,
and it follows that a true ghost would speak to Denmark's prince.
How follows it?
A ghost is always come to tell of something rotten,
to one who hath the power of relief.
This ghost appear'd when Claudius took the throne,
thus Claud is not physic but disease.
'Tis down to Hamlet; my lord must set it right.
If you have divined this, so will the King.
Am I that dull, my lord?
Nay, he is that sharp.
My marks at Wittenberg--
He in his day studied in Florence.
Claudius is learned in those most vile, darkest arts: he is a politician.
He will speak to Marcellus, or Bernardo, or another, and learn what
dread meeting I attended here this night.
He will know I know.
What is my lordship's purpose?
Assassination, but with care,
for I must seem i' the right, or all is lost:
I must assume the throne if I am to set right the world.
Claudius must not anticipate me, for a scheme anticipated fails,
as a dumb-show thoughtlessly performed before a play
spoils the surprise and impact of the scene.
Tell Marcellus, and our other friends that ask,
that the ghost was some foul shape-shifting imp.
Say it did another form from my love craft, and so assume:
a form so horrible it did deprive my reason of all sovereignty.
Then will I put an antic disposition on, and so persuade the King that I am mad.
I will play my part; my lordship need not play his.
speak merely of the strange philosophies and new beliefs
which have of late drawn you from normal thought.
Speak but the truth, and any Dane will think you mad.
But what is the crime for which heaven and earth do now conspire against the King?
I will tell all, but let's retreat. 'Tis dawn.
We'll find a place none else may stumble upon.
SCENE III. A room in Polonius's house.
Enter POLONIUS, LAERTES, and OPHELIA.
This above all: to thine own self be true,
and it must follow, as the night the day,
thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell: my blessing season this in thee!
Most humbly do I take my leave, my lord.
The time invites you; go; your servants tend.
Farewell, Ophelia; and remember well
What I have said to you.
'Tis in my memory lock'd,
and you yourself shall keep the key of it.
What is't, Ophelia, he hath said to you?
So please you, something touching the Lord Hamlet.
I am touch'd.
So is it whispered of late.