Friday, August 17, 2007

Poetry Friday 62

It's been unofficially confirmed that the incomparable David Tennant will be doing Hamlet with the RSC in Stratford next year (and no, it's not certain whether that means he's leaving "Doctor Who" at the end of the fourth season, which is currently being filmed). Since I studied Hamlet as part of my degree but have loved the play for many, many years, I thought I would share some lines from what is one of my favourite plays.

The first section is Polonius' advice to Laertes (Act 1, Scene III):

Yet here, Laertes! Aboard, aboard for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stay'd for.
There ... my blessing with thee!
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportion'd thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them to thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch'd, unfledg’d comrade. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel but, being in,
Bear't that th' opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thy ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure, but reserve thy judgement.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not express'd in fancy; rich, not gaudy;
For the apparel oft proclaims the man;
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower, nor a lender be;
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.
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!

And how very wise is Shakespeare: "to thine own self be true"...

The second section is Hamlet's famous soliloquy which I memorised years and years ago and can still recite (Act III, Scene I):

To be, or not to be : that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. -- Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.


Anonymous said...

Gotcha! (Hee)

I'm in a Shakespeare mood myself -- Kenneth Brannagh has apparently done a version of As You Like It set in Japan, which will be premiering on HBO on Tuesday. Color me happy.

Michele said...

Wow ! Interesting...

Anonymous said...

Nice, Michele! Love me some Shakespeare. Isn't it funny how many quotes from his plays and sonnets - like "to thine own self be true" - have made it into our everyday speech?

Michele said...

Thanks ! Yes - he had such a fabulous way with words...

Talking of words - I have two for you - "Happy Birthday" !

tanita✿davis said...

Ahh, school. Wasn't Shakespeare great in school? Nowadays, people kind of look at you weird if you stand on tables and declaim. Thanks for this!

Sara said...

I memorized (by choice) a lot of Shakespeare in high school, and my drama teacher (bless her!) encouraged two of us take a scene from As You Like It into competition. I later wound up working for a Shakespeare festival for awhile, mostly for the free tickets. My kids have seen multiple Shakespeare plays. I just don't think you can live without it.

Michele said...

I know I can't live without Shakespeare !

Camille said...

There is nothing on HBO that I have ever wanted to watch. Now Brannagh will be on? Blast. Well, I will have to wait for the DVD.

Tennant as Hamlet would be something to see!

Michele said...

Too right it'd be something to see - to die for ! I'm going to save up for it, even if it means living on bread and water for months beforehand...