Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Songs and Their Settings
In the Church-Yard
By William Shakespeare (1564–1616)
From ‘Hamlet

Scene: A Church-Yard.  Enter two Clowns with Spades, etc.

FIRST CLOWN—Is she to be buried in Christian burial, that willfully seeks her own salvation?
  Second Clown—I tell thee, she is; and therefore make her grave straight: the crowner hath set on her, and finds it Christian burial.
  First Clown—How can that be, unless she drowned herself in her own defense?
  Second Clown—Why, ’tis found so.
  First Clown—It must be se offendendo; it cannot be else. For here lies the point: if I drown myself wittingly, it argues an act, and an act hath three branches,—it is, to act, to do, and to perform: argal, she drowned herself wittingly.        5
  Second Clown—Nay, but hear you, goodman delver.
  First Clown—Give me leave. Here lies the water; good: here stands the man; good: if the man go to this water, and drown himself, it is, will he nill he, he goes, mark you that; but if the water come to him, and drown him, he drowns not himself: argal, he that is not guilty of his own death shortens not his own life.
  Second Clown—But is this law?
  First Clown—Ay, marry, is ’t; crowner’s-quest law.
  Second Clown—Will you ha’ the truth on ’t? If this had not been a gentlewoman, she should have been buried out of Christian burial.        10
  First Clown—Why, there thou say’st; and the more pity, that great folk shall have countenance in this world to drown or hang themselves, more than their even Christian. Come, my spade. There is no ancient gentlemen but gardeners, ditchers, and grave-makers; they hold up Adam’s profession.
  Second Clown—Was he a gentleman?
  First Clown—He was the first that ever bore arms.
  Second Clown—Why, he had none.
  First Clown—What, art a heathen? How dost thou understand the Scripture? The Scripture says, Adam digged: could he dig without arms? I’ll put another question to thee: if thou answerest me not to the purpose, confess thyself.        15
  Second Clown—Go to.
  First Clown—What is he that builds stronger than either the mason, the shipwright, or the carpenter?
  Second Clown—The gallows-maker; for that frame outlives a thousand tenants.
  First Clown—I like thy wit well, in good faith: the gallows does well; but how does it well? it does well to those that do ill: now, thou dost ill to say the gallows is built stronger than the church; argal, the gallows may do well to thee. To ’t again; come.
  Second Clown—Who builds stronger than a mason, a shipwright, or a carpenter?        20
  First Clown—Ay, tell me that, and unyoke.
  Second Clown—Marry, now I can tell.
  First Clown—To ’t.
  Second Clown—’Mass, I cannot tell.
Enter Hamlet and Horatio, at a distance
  First Clown—Cudgel thy brains no more about it, for your dull ass will not mend his pace with beating; and when you are asked this question next, say, a grave-maker: the houses that he makes last till doomsday. Go, get thee to yon’; fetch me a stoop of liquor.  [Exit Second Clown.]
First Clown  [digs, and sings]
In youth, when I did love, did love,
    Methought it was very sweet
To contract. Oh! the time, for, ah! my behove,
      Oh! methought, there was nothing meet.        30
  Hamlet—Has this fellow no feeling of his business, that he sings at grave-making?
  Horatio—Custom hath made it in him a property of easiness.
  Hamlet—’Tis e’en so: the hand of little employment hath the daintier sense.
First Clown
But age, with his stealing steps,
  Hath clawed me in his clutch,        35
And hath shipped me intill the land,
  As if I had never been such.
[Throws up a skull.]
  Hamlet—That skull had a tongue in it, and could sing once: how the knave jowls it to the ground, as if it were Cain’s jawbone, that did the first murder! This might be the pate of a politician, which this ass now o’er-reaches,—one that would circumvent God,—might it not?
  Horatio—It might, my lord.
  Hamlet—Or of a courtier, which could say, “Good-morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?” This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord such-a-one’s horse, when he meant to beg it, might it not?        40
  Horatio—Ay, my lord.
  Hamlet—Why, e’en so, and now my lady Worm’s; chapless, and knocked about the mazzard with a sexton’s spade. Here’s fine revolution, an we had the trick to see ’t. Did these bones cost no more the breeding, but to play at loggats with them? mine ache to think on ’t.
First Clown  [sings]
A pickaxe, and a spade, a spade,
  For—and a shrouding sheet:
Oh, a pit of clay for to be made        45
  For such a guest is meet.
[Throws up another skull.]
  Hamlet—There’s another: why may not that be the skull of a lawyer? Where be his quiddits now, his quillets, his cases, his tenures, and his tricks? why does he suffer this rude knave now to knock him about the sconce with a dirty shovel, and will not tell him of his action of battery? Humph! This fellow might be in ’s time a great buyer of land, with his statutes, his recognizances, his fines, his double vouchers, his recoveries: is this the fine of his fines, and the recovery of his recoveries, to have his fine pate full of fine dirt? will his vouchers vouch him no more of his purchases, and double ones too, than the length and breadth of a pair of indentures? The very conveyances of his lands will hardly lie in this box; and must the inheritor himself have no more? ha?
  Horatio—Not a jot more, my lord.
  Hamlet—Is not parchment made of sheepskins?
  Horatio—Ay, my lord, and of calfskins too.        50
  Hamlet—They are sheep, and calves, which seek out assurance in that. I will speak to this fellow.—Whose grave’s this, sir?
  First Clown—Mine, sir.
      [Sings]—Oh, a pit of clay for to be made
        For such a guest is meet.
  Hamlet—I think it be thine indeed; for thou liest in ’t.        55
  First Clown—You lie out on ’t, sir, and therefore it is not yours; for my part, I do not lie in ’t, and yet it is mine.
  Hamlet—Thou dost lie in ’t, to be in ’t and say it is thine: ’tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore, thou liest.
  First Clown—’Tis a quick lie, sir: ’twill away again, from me to you.
  Hamlet—What man dost thou dig it for?
  First Clown—For no man, sir.        60
  Hamlet—What woman, then?
  First Clown—For none, neither.
  Hamlet—Who is to be buried in ’t?
  First Clown—One that was a woman, sir; but rest her soul, she’s dead.
  Hamlet—How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord! Horatio, these three years I have taken note of it: the age is grown so picked, that the toe of the peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he galls his kibe.—How long hast thou been a grave-maker?        65
  First Clown—Of all the days i’ the year, I came to ’t that day that our last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
  Hamlet—How long is that since?
  First Clown—Cannot you tell that? every fool can tell that. It was the very day that young Hamlet was born: he that is mad, and sent into England.
  Hamlet—Ay, marry: why was he sent into England?
  First Clown—Why, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits there; or if he do not, ’tis no great matter there.        70
  First Clown—’Twill not be seen in him there: there, the men are as mad as he.
  Hamlet—How came he mad?
  First Clown—Very strangely, they say.
  Hamlet—How strangely?        75
  First Clown—Faith, e’en with losing his wits.
  Hamlet—Upon what ground?
  First Clown—Why, here in Denmark. I have been sexton here, man and boy, thirty years.
  Hamlet—How long will a man lie i’ the earth ere he rot?
  First Clown—Faith, if he be not rotten before he die (as we have many pocky corses nowadays, that will scarce hold the laying in), he will last you some eight year, or nine year: a tanner will last you nine year.        80
  Hamlet—Why he more than another?
  First Clown—Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that he will keep out water a great while; and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. Here’s a skull now: this skull hath lain i’ the earth three-and-twenty years.
  Hamlet—Whose was it?
  First Clown—A whoreson mad fellow’s it was: whose do you think it was?
  Hamlet—Nay, I know not.        85
  First Clown—A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! ’a poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, this same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.
  Hamlet—This?  [Takes the skull.]
  First Clown—E’en that.
  Hamlet—Let me see. Alas, poor Yorick!—I knew him, Horatio: a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy,—he hath borne me on his back a thousand times: and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips, that I have kissed I know not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now, to mock your own grinning? quite chapfallen. Now, get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come; make her laugh at that.—Pr’ythee, Horatio, tell me one thing.
  Horatio—What’s that, my lord?        90
  Hamlet—Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ the earth?
  Horatio—E’en so.
  Hamlet—And smelt so? pah!  [Puts down the skull.]
  Horatio—E’en so, my lord.
  Hamlet—To what base uses we may return, Horatio. Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander, till he find it stopping a bung-hole?        95
  Horatio—’Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
  Hamlet—No, faith, not a jot: but to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it; as thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returned into dust; the dust is earth; of earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
        Imperial Cæsar dead, and turned to clay,
        Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
        Oh! that that earth, which kept the world in awe,        100
        Should patch a wall t’ expel the winter’s flaw!

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