Fiction > Harvard Classics > William Shakespeare > Hamlet
William Shakespeare (1564–1616).  The Tragedy of Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
Act IV
Scene I
[A room in the castle]

  King.  There’s matter in these sighs; these profound heaves
You must translate; ’tis fit we understand them.
Where is your son?
  Queen.  [Bestow this place on us a little while.]  [Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.]        4
Ah, my good lord, what have I seen to-night!
  King.  What, Gertrude? How does Hamlet?
  Queen.  Mad as the seas and wind, when both contend
Which is the mightier. In his lawless fit,        8
Behind the arras hearing something stir,
He whips his rapier out, and cries, “A rat, a rat!”
And, in his brainish 1 apprehension, kills
The unseen good old man.        12
  King.        O heavy deed!
It had been so with us, had we been there.
His liberty is full of threats to all,
To you yourself, to us, to every one.        16
Alas, how shall this bloody deed be answered?
It will be laid to us, whose providence
Should have kept short, restrain’d, and out of haunt, 2
This mad young man. But so much was our love,        20
We would not understand what was most fit,
But, like the owner of a foul disease,
To keep it from divulging, let it feed
Even on the pith of life. Where is he gone?        24
  Queen.  To draw apart the body he hath kill’d,
O’er whom his very madness, like some ore
Among the mineral of metals base,
Shows itself pure; he weeps for what is done.        28
  King.  O Gertrude, come away!
The sun no sooner shall the mountains touch,
But we will ship him hence, and this vile deed
We must, with all our majesty and skill,        32
Both countenance and excuse. Ho, Guildenstern!  [Re-]enter ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN
Friends both, go join you with some further aid.
Hamlet in madness hath Polonius slain,
And from his mother’s closet hath he dragg’d him.        36
Go seek him out; speak fair, and bring the body
Into the chapel. I pray you, haste in this.  Exeunt ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN.
Come, Gertrude, we’ll call up our wisest friends
To let them know both what we mean to do        40
And what’s untimely done; [so, haply, slander]
[Whose whisper o’er the world’s diameter,
As level as the cannon to his blank, 3
Transports his poisoned shot, may miss our name,        44
And hit the woundless air.] O, come away!
My soul is full of discord and dismay.  Exeunt.
Note 1. Mad, headstrong. [back]
Note 2. Resort. [back]
Note 3. White spot in the center of a target. [back]


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