ACT 1, SCENE 5: The battlements.

Enter GHOST and HAMLET.

HAMLET: Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak, I'll go no further.

GHOST: Mark me.

HAMLET:                           I will.

GHOST:                           My hour is almost come
When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.

HAMLET:                           Alas, poor ghost!

GHOST: Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing                                         [5]
To what I shall unfold.

HAMLET:                           Speak, I am bound to hear.

GHOST: So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

HAMLET: What?

GHOST: I am thy father's spirit,
Doomed for a certain term to walk the night,                                     [10]
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word                                            [15]
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part,
And each particular hair to stand an end,
Like quills upon the fearful porpentine.                                              [20]
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love --

HAMLET: O God!

GHOST: Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.                              [25]

HAMLET: Murder!

GHOST: Murder most foul, as in the best it is,
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.

HAMLET: Haste me to know't, that I with wings as swift
As meditation, or the thoughts of love,                                               [30]
May sweep to my revenge.

GHOST:                           I find thee apt,
And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,                                        [35]
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abused. But know, thou noble youth,
The serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown.                                                                              [40]

HAMLET:                           O my prophetic soul!
My uncle?

GHOST: Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
With witchcraft of his wits, with traitorous gifts --
O wicked wit and gifts that have the power
So to seduce! -- won to his shameful lust                                           [45]
The will of my most seeming virtuous queen.
O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there
From me, whose love was of that dignity
That it went hand in hand even with the vow
I made to her in marriage, and to decline                                            [50]
Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
To those of mine!
But virtue, as it never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
So lust, though to a radiant angel linked,                                            [55]
Will sate itself in a celestial bed
And prey on garbage.
But soft, methinks I scent the morning air,
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,                                                      [60]
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebona in a vial,
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leprous distillment, whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man                                            [65]
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,
And with a sudden vigour it doth posset
And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
The thin and wholesome blood. So did it mine,                                [70]
And a most instant tetter barked about,
Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust
All my smooth body.
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatched,                                   [75]
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhousled, disappointed, unanelled,
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
O, horrible, O, horrible! Most horrible!                                                 [80]
If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not,
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
But howsomever thou pursues this act,
Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive                                     [85]
Against thy mother aught. Leave her to heaven,
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge
To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
And gins to pale his uneffectual fire.                                                    [90]
Adieu, adieu, adieu! remember me.

Exit.

HAMLET: O all you host of heaven! O earth! What else?
And shall I couple hell? O fie, hold, hold, my heart,
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!                                               [95]
Ay, thou poor ghost, whiles memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past                                    [100]
That youth and observation copied there,
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter. Yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!                                                                     [105]
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables -- meet it is I set it down
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain!
At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark. [He writes.]
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:                                          [110]
It is "Adieu, adieu! remember me."
I have sworn't.

HORATIO, MARCELLUS: Within. My lord, my lord!

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.

MARCELLUS:                           . Lord Hamlet!

HORATIO:                           Heavens secure him!

HAMLET: So be it!

MARCELLUS: Illo, ho, ho, my lord!                                                                  [115]

HAMLET: Hillo, ho, ho, boy! Come, bird, come.

MARCELLUS: How is't, my noble lord?

HORATIO:                           What news, my lord?

HAMLET: O, wonderful!

HORATIO: Good my lord, tell it.

HAMLET:                           No, you will reveal it.

HORATIO: Not I, my lord, by heaven.                                                               [120]

MARCELLUS:                           Nor I, my lord.

HAMLET: How say you then, would heart of man once think it? --
But you'll be secret?

HORATIO, MARCELLUS:              Ay, by heaven, my lord.

HAMLET: There's never a villain dwelling in all Denmark --
But he's an arrant knave.

HORATIO: There needs no ghost, my lord, come from the grave              [125]
To tell us this.

HAMLET:              Why, right, you are in the right,
And so, without more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part,
You, as your business and desire shall point you,
For every man hath business and desire,                                             [130]
Such as it is, and for my own poor part,
I will go pray.

HORATIO: These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

HAMLET: I am sorry they offend you, heartily,
Yes, faith, heartily.                                                                                     [135]

HORATIO:              There's no offence, my lord.

HAMLET: Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
It is an honest ghost, that let me tell you.
For your desire to know what is between us,
O'ermaster't as you may. And now, good friends,                              [140]
As you are friends, scholars, and soldiers,
Give me one poor request.

HORATIO: What is't, my lord, we will.

HAMLET: Never make known what you have seen tonight.

HORATIO, MARCELLUS: My lord, we will not.                                            [145]

HAMLET:                           Nay, but swear't.

HORATIO:                           In faith,
My lord, not I.

MARCELLUS:              Nor I, my lord, in faith.

HAMLET: Upon my sword.

MARCELLUS:                           We have sworn, my lord, already.

HAMLET: Indeed upon my sword, indeed.

Ghost cries under the stage.

GHOST: Swear.

HAMLET: Ha, ha, boy, say'st thou so? Art thou there, truepenny?             [150]
Come on, you hear this fellow in the cellarage,
Consent to swear.

HORATIO:              Propose the oath, my lord.

HAMLET: Never to speak of this that you have seen,
Swear by my sword.

GHOST: [Beneath.] Swear.                                                                                    [155]

HAMLET: Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands again upon my sword.
Swear by my sword
Never to speak of this that you have heard.                                        [160]

GHOST: [Beneath.] Swear by his sword.

HAMLET: Well said, old mole, canst work i' th' earth so fast?
A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

HORATIO: O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

HAMLET: And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.                               [165]
There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
But come --
Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
How strange or odd some'er I bear myself --                                      [170]
As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
To put an antic disposition on --
That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
With arms encumbered thus, or this headshake,
Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,                                      [175]
As "Well, well, we know," or "We could, and if we would,"
Or "If we list to speak," or "There be, and if they might,"
Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
That you know aught of me -- this do swear,
So grace and mercy at your most need help you.                                [180]

GHOST: [Beneath.] Swear.

[They swear.]

HAMLET: Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So, gentlemen,
With all my love I do commend me to you,
And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
May do t' express his love and friending to you,                                [185]
God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together,
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
The time is out of joint. O cursed spite,
That ever I was born to set it right!
Nay, come, let's go together.                                                                    [190]

Exeunt.


Go to the next scene.
Go to the previous scene.
Return to the list of scenes