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Hamlet

by William Shakespeare

Act 1, Scene 1 Easiest-to-Read Edition



Hamlet Act 1, Scene 1

Elsinore, a Platform before the Castle

Enter BARNARDO and FRANCISCO, two sentinels

sentinels=watchmen

 

Enter BARNARDO and FRANCISCO, two sentinels

BARNARDO

Who’s there?

 

BARNARDO

Who’s there?

 

FRANCISCO

Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

answer me = you answer me

unfold=identify

FRANCISCO

Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself.

 

BARNARDO

Long live the king!

 

BARNARDO

Long live the king!

 

FRANCISCO

  Barnardo?

 

FRANCISCO

  Barnardo?

 

BARNARDO

    He.

 

BARNARDO

    He.

 

FRANCISCO

You come most carefully upon your hour.

carefully=punctually

upon your hour=at your hour

 

FRANCISCO

You come most carefully upon your hour.

 

BARNARDO

'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.

 

BARNARDO

'Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.

 

FRANCISCO

For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,

relief=being replaced

And I am sick at heart.

 

FRANCISCO

For this relief much thanks. 'Tis bitter cold,

And I am sick at heart.

 

BARNARDO

    Have you had quiet guard?

 

BARNARDO

    Have you had quiet guard?

 

FRANCISCO

Not a mouse stirring.

 

FRANCISCO

Not a mouse stirring.

 

BARNARDO

    Well, good night.

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

rivals=fellow soldiers

 

BARNARDO

    Well, good night.

If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,

The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

 

FRANCISCO

I think I hear them.—Stand, ho! Who’s there?

 

FRANCISCO

I think I hear them.—Stand, ho! Who’s there?

 

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS

Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS

HORATIO

    Friends to this ground.

to this ground=of this place

 

HORATIO

    Friends to this ground.

 

MARCELLUS

And liegemen to the Dane.

liegemen=servants

Dane=Danish king

 

MARCELLUS

And liegemen to the Dane.

 

FRANCISCO

    Give you good night.

Give you=I give you

FRANCISCO

    Give you good night.

 

MARCELLUS

O, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?

relieved=replaced

 

MARCELLUS

O, farewell, honest soldier. Who hath relieved you?

 

FRANCISCO

Barnardo has my place. Give you good night.

 

FRANCISCO

Barnardo has my place. Give you good night.

 

Exit FRANCISCO

Exit FRANCISCO

MARCELLUS

Holla, Barnardo.

 

MARCELLUS

Holla, Barnardo.

 

BARNARDO

Say what, is Horatio there?

 

BARNARDO

Say what, is Horatio there?

 

HORATIO

A piece of him.

 

HORATIO

A piece of him.

 

BARNARDO

Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.

 

BARNARDO

Welcome, Horatio.—Welcome, good Marcellus.

 

MARCELLUS

What, has this thing appeared again tonight?

 

MARCELLUS

What, has this thing appeared again tonight?

 

BARNARDO

I have seen nothing.

 

BARNARDO

I have seen nothing.

 

MARCELLUS

Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy

And will not let belief take hold of him

Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.

of us=by us

Therefore I have entreated him along

With us to watch the minutes of this night,

That if again this apparition come

He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

 

MARCELLUS

Horatio says ’tis but our fantasy

And will not let belief take hold of him

Touching this dreaded sight twice seen of us.

Therefore I have entreated him along

With us to watch the minutes of this night,

That if again this apparition come

He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

 

HORATIO

Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.

‘twill=it will

 

HORATIO

Tush, tush, ’twill not appear.

 

BARNARDO

    Sit down a while

And let us once again assail your ears,

That are so fortified against our story,

What we have two nights seen.

 

BARNARDO

    Sit down a while

And let us once again assail your ears,

That are so fortified against our story,

What we have two nights seen.

 

HORATIO

    Well, sit we down,

And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.

 

HORATIO

    Well, sit we down,

And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.

 

BARNARDO

Last night of all,

When yond same star that’s westward from the pole

pole=North Star

Had made his course t' illume that part of heaven

illume=illuminate

Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,

The bell then beating one—

beating one=ringing one (o’clock)

 

BARNARDO

Last night of all,

When yond same star that’s westward from the pole

Had made his course t' illume that part of heaven

Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,

The bell then beating one—

 

MARCELLUS

Peace, break thee off. Look where it comes again!

break thee off=break into your talk

 

MARCELLUS

Peace, break thee off. Look where it comes again!

 

BARNARDO

In the same figure like the king that’s dead.

like the king=as the king

 

BARNARDO

In the same figure like the king that’s dead.

 

MARCELLUS

(to HORATIO) Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.

 

MARCELLUS

(to HORATIO) Thou art a scholar. Speak to it, Horatio.

 

BARNARDO

Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.

Mark it=notice it

 

BARNARDO

Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.

 

HORATIO

Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder.

harrows=distresses

 

HORATIO

Most like. It harrows me with fear and wonder

 

BARNARDO

It would be spoke to.

It would like to be spoken to.

 

BARNARDO

It would be spoke to.

 

MARCELLUS

  Question it, Horatio.

HORATIO

What art thou that usurp’st this time of night

usurp=seize illegally

Together with that fair and warlike form

fair=handsome, healthy

In which the majesty of buried Denmark

Denmark=king of Denmark

Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak.

charge=order

 

MARCELLUS

  Question it, Horatio.

HORATIO

What art thou that usurp’st this time of night

Together with that fair and warlike form

In which the majesty of buried Denmark

Did sometimes march? By heaven, I charge thee, speak.

 

MARCELLUS

It is offended.

 

MARCELLUS

It is offended.

 

BARNARDO

  See, it stalks away.

 

BARNARDO

  See, it stalks away.

 

HORATIO

Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!

 

HORATIO

Stay! Speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!

 

Exit GHOST

Exit GHOST

MARCELLUS

'Tis gone and will not answer.

 

MARCELLUS

'Tis gone and will not answer.

 

BARNARDO

How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.

How now=what now

Is not this something more than fantasy?

What think you on ’t?

on’t=of it

 

BARNARDO

How now, Horatio? You tremble and look pale.

Is not this something more than fantasy?

What think you on ’t?

 

HORATIO

Before my God, I might not this believe

might=would

Without the sensible and true avouch

sensible and true avouch=seeing and true testimony

Of mine own eyes.

 

HORATIO

Before my God, I might not this believe

Without the sensible and true avouch

Of mine own eyes.

 

MARCELLUS

Is it not like the king?

 

MARCELLUS

Is it not like the king?

 

HORATIO

As thou art to thyself.

Such was the very armour he had on

When he the ambitious Norway combated.

Norway=king of Norway

So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,

parle=parley (negociation)

He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

sledded=on sleds

'Tis strange.

 

HORATIO

As thou art to thyself.

Such was the very armour he had on

When he the ambitious Norway combated.

So frowned he once when, in an angry parle,

He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.

'Tis strange.

 

MARCELLUS

Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,

jump at this dead hour=exactly at this lifeless (early) hour

With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

martial stalk=military prancing

gone by=passed by

 

MARCELLUS

Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,

With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

 

HORATIO

In what particular thought to work I know not,

to work=to philosophize about

But in the gross and scope of mine opinion

gross and scope=general view

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

bodes=forebodes (predicts)

 

HORATIO

In what particular thought to work I know not,

But in the gross and scope of mine opinion

This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

 

MARCELLUS

Good now, sit down and tell me, he that knows,

Good now=good enough

Why this same strict and most observant watch

So nightly toils the subject of the land,

toils the subject=toils for the subjects

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon

cast=casting

brazen=brass

And foreign mart for implements of war,

Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task

impress=forcing

sore =exhausting

Does not divide the Sunday from the week.

What might be toward, that this sweaty haste

toward=coming along

Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?

Who is ’t that can inform me?

 

MARCELLUS

Good now, sit down and tell me, he that knows,

Why this same strict and most observant watch

So nightly toils the subject of the land,

And why such daily cast of brazen cannon

And foreign mart for implements of war,

Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task

Does not divide the Sunday from the week.

What might be toward, that this sweaty haste

Doth make the night joint laborer with the day?

Who is ’t that can inform me?

 

HORATIO

    That can I.

At least, the whisper goes so: our last king,

whisper=rumor

Whose image even but now appeared to us,

Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,

Thereto=to the matter at hand

pricked on=goaded

emulate=full of jealous rivalry

Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet

Dared to the combat=dared to enter the combat

(For so this side of our known world esteemed him)

Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact

sealed compact=legal agreement

Well ratified by law and heraldry,

heraldry=designs used to distinguish the privileged and to regulate inheritances

Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands,

Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror,

Against the which a moiety competent

moiety competent=legal share

Was gagèd by our king, which had returned

gaged=pledged

had returned= would have returned

To the inheritance of Fortinbras

Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same covenant

And carriage of the article designed,

covenant and carriage of the article designed=legal document

His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,

mettle=temperament

Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there

Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes,

sharked up=collected hastily

resolutes=desperadoes

For food and diet, to some enterprise

for food=in exchange for food

That hath a stomach in ’t, which is no other—

stomach=daring

As it doth well appear unto our state—

But to recover of us, by strong hand

And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

compulsatory=forced

foresaid=mentioned earlier

So by his father lost. And this, I take it,

Is the main motive of our preparations,

preparations=preparations for war

The source of this our watch, and the chief head

source=cause

head=source (as in “headwater”)

Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.

posthaste and rummage=extreme haste and stirring up

 

HORATIO

    That can I.

At least, the whisper goes so: our last king,

Whose image even but now appeared to us,

Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,

Thereto pricked on by a most emulate pride,

Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet

(For so this side of our known world esteemed him)

Did slay this Fortinbras, who by a sealed compact

Well ratified by law and heraldry,

Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands

Which he stood seized of to the conqueror,

Against the which a moiety competent

Was gagèd by our king, which had returned

To the inheritance of Fortinbras

Had he been vanquisher, as, by the same covenant

And carriage of the article designed,

His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,

Of unimprovèd mettle hot and full,

Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there

Sharked up a list of lawless resolutes,

For food and diet, to some enterprise

That hath a stomach in ’t, which is no other—

As it doth well appear unto our state—

But to recover of us, by strong hand

And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands

So by his father lost. And this, I take it,

Is the main motive of our preparations,

The source of this our watch, and the chief head

Of this posthaste and rummage in the land.

 

 

BARNARDO

I think it be no other but e'en so.

e’en=even

Well may it sort that this portentous figure

portentous=foretelling

Comes armèd through our watch so like the king

armed – two syllables

That was and is the question of these wars.

question=subject

 

BARNARDO

I think it be no other but e'en so.

Well may it sort that this portentous figure

Comes armèd through our watch so like the king

That was and is the question of these wars

 

HORATIO

A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.

mote=cinder

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,

A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,

ere=before

Julius=Julius Caesar

The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead

sheeted dead=dead in their graveclothes

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets.

gibber=chatter

(missing line meaning “marvels were happening”)

As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,

As=such as

Disasters in the sun, and the moist star

moist star=the moon (which controls the tides)

Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands

Neptune’s empire=the ocean

Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.

almost to doomsday=almost to the end of time

And even the like precurse of feared events,

precurse=forerunner

As harbingers preceding still the fates

harbingers preceding still=messengers preceding ever

And prologue to the omen coming on,

Have heaven and earth together demonstrated

Unto our climatures and countrymen.

climatures=climates

 

HORATIO

A mote it is to trouble the mind’s eye.

In the most high and palmy state of Rome,

A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,

The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead

Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets

As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,

Disasters in the sun, and the moist star

Upon whose influence Neptune’s empire stands

Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse.

And even the like precurse of feared events,

As harbingers preceding still the fates

And prologue to the omen coming on,

Have heaven and earth together demonstrated

Unto our climatures and countrymen.

 

Enter GHOST

Enter GHOST

But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again.

I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!

cross it=cross its path (a superstition)

Stay, illusion=stay where you are, illusion

 

But soft, behold! Lo, where it comes again.

I’ll cross it though it blast me.—Stay, illusion!

 

GHOST spreads his arms

GHOST spreads his arms

If thou hast any sound or use of voice,

Speak to me.

 

If thou hast any sound or use of voice,

Speak to me.

 

If there be any good thing to be done

That may to thee do ease and grace to me,

Speak to me.

If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,

Which happily foreknowing may avoid,

Oh, speak!

Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

in the womb=from the womb

For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

oft=often

Speak of it. Stay and speak!

 

If there be any good thing to be done

That may to thee do ease and grace to me,

Speak to me.

If thou art privy to thy country’s fate,

Which happily foreknowing may avoid,

Oh, speak!

Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life

Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,

For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

Speak of it. Stay and speak!

 

The cock crows

The cock crows

  —Stop it, Marcellus.

  —Stop it, Marcellus.

MARCELLUS

Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

partisan=spear

 

MARCELLUS

Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

 

HORATIO

Do, if it will not stand.

stand=stand still

 

HORATIO

Do, if it will not stand.

 

BARNARDO

   'Tis here.

 

BARNARDO

   'Tis here.

 

HORATIO

    'Tis here.

 

HORATIO

    'Tis here.

 

Exit GHOST

Exit GHOST

MARCELLUS

'Tis gone.

We do it wrong, being so majestical,

majestical=like a king

To offer it the show of violence,

For it is, as the air, invulnerable,

invulnerable=not susceptible to being wounded

And our vain blows malicious mockery.

mockery=insult

MARCELLUS

'Tis gone.

We do it wrong, being so majestical,

To offer it the show of violence,

For it is, as the air, invulnerable,

And our vain blows malicious mockery.

 

BARNARDO

It was about to speak when the cock crew.

 

BARNARDO

It was about to speak when the cock crew.

 

And then it started like a guilty thing

started=startled

Upon a fearful summons. I have heard

upon=at

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,

Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat

lofty=high

Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,

Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies

extravagant=vagrant, homeless

erring=wandering

To his confine, and of the truth herein

confine=place of confinement

This present object made probation.

made probation=gave proof

 

And then it started like a guilty thing

Upon a fearful summons. I have heard

The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,

Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat

Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,

Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,

Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies

To his confine, and of the truth herein

This present object made probation.

 

MARCELLUS

It faded on the crowing of the cock.

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes

ever ‘gainst=just before

that season wherein . . . =Christmas

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long.

bird of dawning=cock

And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad.

The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike,

wholesome=safe

no planets strike=no planets bring us bad luck

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

takes=can harm us

So hallowed and so gracious is that time.

gracious=fortunate

 

MARCELLUS

It faded on the crowing of the cock.

Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes

Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,

The bird of dawning singeth all night long.

And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad.

The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike,

No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,

So hallowed and so gracious is that time.

 

HORATIO

So have I heard and do in part believe it.

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,

in russet mantle clad=wearing a red cloak (the sky)

Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

Break we our watch up, and by my advice,

Let us impart what we have seen tonight

Unto young Hamlet, for, upon my life,

This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.

Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

loves=love for Hamlet

HORATIO

So have I heard and do in part believe it.

But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,

Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.

Break we our watch up, and by my advice,

Let us impart what we have seen tonight

Unto young Hamlet, for, upon my life,

This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.

Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,

As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

 

MARCELLUS

Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know

Where we shall find him most conveniently.

 

MARCELLUS

Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know

Where we shall find him most conveniently.

 

Exeunt

Exeunt

 

 

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