Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 1

           Enter BARNARDO and FRANCISCO,
           two sentinels, [meeting].  

  1   Who's there?

2. Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself: No [don't you ask me questions], answer me [because I'm the one on guard duty]: stay where you are, and identify yourself.
  2   Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.

  3   Long live the king!

  4   Barnardo?

  5   He.

6. You come most carefully upon your hour: i.e., you have come exactly when you were supposed to.
  6   You come most carefully upon your hour.

  7   'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco.

  8   For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold,
  9   And I am sick at heart.

 10   Have you had quiet guard?

 10                                       Not a mouse stirring.

 11   Well, good night.
 12   If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus,
13. rivals of my watch: my watchmates.
 13   The rivals of my watch, bid them make haste.

 14   I think I hear them. Stand, ho! Who's there?

           Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.

 15   Friends to this ground.

15. liegemen to the Dane: loyal subjects to the King of Denmark.
 15                                    And liegemen to the Dane.

16. Give: Short for "God give."
 16   Give you good night.

 16                                    O, farewell, honest soldier:
 17   Who hath relieved you?

 17                                     Barnardo has my place.
 18   Give you good night.

           Exit Francisco.

 18                                   Holla! Barnardo!

 18                                                                Say—
 19   What, is Horatio there?

 19                                      A piece of him.

 20   Welcome, Horatio: welcome, good Marcellus.

 21   What, has this thing appear'd again tonight?

 22   I have seen nothing.

23. 'tis but our fantasy: it is only a figment of our imagination.
 23   Horatio says 'tis but our fantasy,
 24   And will not let belief take hold of him
 25   Touching this dreaded sight, twice seen of us:
 26   Therefore I have entreated him along
27. to watch the minutes of this night: i.e., to stand watch with us and observe everything that happens.
 27   With us to watch the minutes of this night;
 28   That if again this apparition come,
29. approve our eyes : corroborate our account of what we have seen.
 29   He may approve our eyes and speak to it.

 30   Tush, tush, 'twill not appear.

 30                                                Sit down awhile;
 31   And let us once again assail your ears,
 32   That are so fortified against our story
 33   What we have two nights seen.

 33                                             Well, sit we down,
 34   And let us hear Barnardo speak of this.

 35   Last night of all,
36. pole: polestar; Polaris, the North Star.
 36   When yond same star that's westward from the pole
37. his: its.
 37   Had made his course to illume that part of heaven
 38   Where now it burns, Marcellus and myself,
 39   The bell then beating one—

           Enter Ghost.

 40   Peace, break thee off; look, where it comes again!

41. In the same figure, like the king that's dead: in the exact likeness of the king that's dead.
 41   In the same figure, like the king that's dead.

42. a scholar: i.e., an educated person, therefore one who knows what to say to a ghost.
 42   Thou art a scholar; speak to it, Horatio.

43. 'a: he.  mark it: pay close attention to the likeness between the ghost and the dead king.
 43   Looks 'a not like the king? mark it, Horatio.

 44   Most like: it harrows me with fear and wonder.

45. It would be spoke to: Folklore said that a ghost had to be spoken to before it would speak.
 45   It would be spoke to.

 45                                    Speak to it, Horatio.

46.usurp'st: usurps ....more
 46   What art thou that usurp'st this time of night,
47-49. that fair and warlike form / In which the majesty of buried Denmark / Did sometimes march: i.e., the beautiful, terrifying, and majestic image in which the dead King Hamlet of Denmark used to march.
 47   Together with that fair and warlike form
 48   In which the majesty of buried Denmark
 49   Did sometimes march? by heaven I charge thee, speak!

 50   It is offended.

 50                                See, it stalks away!

 51   Stay! speak, speak! I charge thee, speak!

           Exit Ghost.

 52   'Tis gone, and will not answer.

 53   How now, Horatio! you tremble and look pale:
 54   Is not this something more than fantasy?
 55   What think you on't?

 56   Before my God, I might not this believe
57. sensible: i.e., confirmed by the senses.  avouch: guarantee.
 57   Without the sensible and true avouch
 58   Of mine own eyes.

 58                                Is it not like the king?

 59   As thou art to thyself:
 60   Such was the very armor he had on
61. Norway: i.e., the King of Norway.
 61   When he the ambitious Norway combated;
62. parle: parley.
 62   So frown'd he once, when, in an angry parle,
63. sledded: using sleds.  Polacks: Poles. The original is "sleaded pollax," which doesn't make good sense, and some editors emend it to "leaded pole-ax," rather than "sledded Polacks."
 63   He smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.
 64   'Tis strange.

65. jump: precisely.
 65   Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
66. With martial stalk: i.e., with a military bearing.
 66   With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.

67-69. In what ... our state: i.e., I don't know how to work out the details, but considering everything, it seems to me that this foretells some strange upheaval in the state of Denmark.
 67   In what particular thought to work I know not;
 68   But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
 69   This bodes some strange eruption to our state.

70. Good now: good enough. Marcellus' point has just been proven: There really is a ghost. 71. this same ... watch: i.e., this high security alert. 72. toils: causes to work. subject: subjects. 73. brazen cannon: bronze cannons.
 70   Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
 71   Why this same strict and most observant watch
 72   So nightly toils the subject of the land,
 73   And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
74. foreign mart: dealing in foreign markets.
 74   And foreign mart for implements of war;
75. impress: forced service.
 75   Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
 76   Does not divide the Sunday from the week;
77. toward: in preparation.
 77   What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
 78   Doth make the night joint-laborer with the day:
 79   Who is't that can inform me?

 79                                             That can I;
 80   At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
 81   Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
 82   Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
83. prick'd on: prodded, incited.  most emulate: extremely competitive.
 83   Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
 84   Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet—
 85   For so this side of our known world esteem'd him—
86. seal'd compact: i.e., a signed and sealed agreement.
 86   Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,
87. Well ratified by law and heraldry: i.e., in full accordance with law and the rules of combat.
 87   Well ratified by law and heraldry,
 88   Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
89. seiz'd of: possessed of....more
 89   Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:
90-91. Against ... gaged by our king: i.e., King Hamlet matched the wager of King Fortinbras.  91. had: would have. 92. inheritance: permanent possession.
 90   Against the which, a moiety competent
 91   Was gaged by our king; which had return'd
 92   To the inheritance of Fortinbras,
93. comart: joint bargain.
 93   Had he been vanquisher; as, by the same comart,
94. carriage: tenor.  article design'd: agreement drawn up.
 94   And carriage of the article design'd,
 95   His fell to Hamlet. Now, sir, young Fortinbras,
96. unimproved mettle: desperate and untested temperament. 97. skirts: outlying territories.
98. Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes: i.e., hastily rounded up a gang of desperadoes. 99-100. For food and diet, to some enterprise / That hath a stomach in't (1) for no pay except their keep, to engage in some enterprise that requires courage; (2) as cannon-fodder, to engage in some enterprise that will devour them.
 96   Of unimproved mettle hot and full,
 97   Hath in the skirts of Norway here and there
 98   Shark'd up a list of lawless resolutes,
 99   For food and diet, to some enterprise
100   That hath a stomach in't; which is no other—
101   As it doth well appear unto our state—
102   But to recover of us, by strong hand
103   And terms compulsatory, those foresaid lands
104   So by his father lost: and this, I take it,
105   Is the main motive of our preparations,
106. head: main cause.
106   The source of this our watch and the chief head
107. post-haste and romage: i.e., hustle and bustle. "Romage" is an older spelling of "rummage."
107   Of this post-haste and romage in the land.

108   I think it be no other but e'en so:
109. sort: suit, fit.  portentous: ominous.
109   Well may it sort that this portentous figure
110   Comes armed through our watch; so like the king
111. question: subject, cause.
111   That was and is the question of these wars.

112. mote: speck of dust.
112   A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye.
113. palmy: flourishing.
113   In the most high and palmy state of Rome,
114   A little ere the mightiest Julius fell,
115. the sheeted dead: the dead in their shrouds.
115   The graves stood tenantless and the sheeted dead
116   Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets:
117. As: ???  trains: tails.  dews: mists.
117   As stars with trains of fire and dews of blood,
118. Disasters: ominous signs.  moist star: the moon. 119. Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands: i.e.. which governs the tides. 120. sick almost to doomsday with eclipse: 121. precurse: foreshadowing.
118   Disasters in the sun; and the moist star,
119   Upon whose influence Neptune's empire stands,
120   Was sick almost to doomsday with eclipse:
121   And even the like precurse of fierce events,
122. harbingers: advance messengers. still: always.  the fates: i.e., fateful events. 123. omen: foretold calamity.
122   As harbingers preceding still the fates
123   And prologue to the omen coming on,
124   Have heaven and earth together demonstrated
125. climatures: regions.
125   Unto our climatures and countrymen—

           Enter GHOST.

126   But soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!

his: its.
           It spreads his arms.

127. cross it: cross its path, confront it directly.  blast: wither.
I'll cross it, though it blast me. Stay, illusion!
128   If thou hast any sound, or use of voice,
129   Speak to me:
130   If there be any good thing to be done,
131   That may to thee do ease and grace to me,
132   Speak to me:
133   If thou art privy to thy country's fate,
134. happily: haply, by good chance.
134   Which, happily, foreknowing may avoid,
135   O, speak!
136   Or if thou hast uphoarded in thy life
137. Extorted treasure: i.e., ill-gotten gains.
Extorted treasure in the womb of earth,
138   For which, they say, you spirits oft walk in death,

           The cock crows.

139   Speak of it: stay, and speak! Stop it, Marcellus.

140. partisan: spear with a barbed head.
140   Shall I strike at it with my partisan?

141   Do, if it will not stand.

           [They strike at it.]

141                                       'Tis here!

141                                                     'Tis here!

142   'Tis gone!

           [Exit Ghost.]

143   We do it wrong, being so majestical,
144   To offer it the show of violence;
145   For it is, as the air, invulnerable,
146. mockery: empty pretense.
146   And our vain blows malicious mockery.

147   It was about to speak when the cock crew.

148. started: moved suddenly, as though surprised or frightened.
148   And then it started like a guilty thing
149   Upon a fearful summons. I have heard,
150. trumpet: trumpeter.
150   The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
151   Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
152   Awake the god of day; and, at his warning,
153   Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
154. The: i.e., any.  extravagant: outside its proper bounds.  erring: wandering about.  hies / To his confine: i.e., hastens to the place where it is usually confined. 156. This present object made probation: i.e., what we just saw proved that to be true.
154   The extravagant and erring spirit hies
155   To his confine: and of the truth herein
156   This present object made probation.

157   It faded on the crowing of the cock.
158. ever 'gainst: always just before.
158   Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
159   Wherein our Savior's birth is celebrated,
160   The bird of dawning singeth all night long:
161   And then, they say, no spirit dares stir abroad;
162. strike: exert an evil influence.
162   The nights are wholesome; then no planets strike,
163. takes: bewitches.
163   No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
164. gracious: blessed.
164   So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.

165   So have I heard and do in part believe it.
166. russet: coarse cloth, reddish-brown to gray-brown.
166   But, look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
167   Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill:
168   Break we our watch up; and by my advice,
169   Let us impart what we have seen tonight
170   Unto young Hamlet; for, upon my life,
171   This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
172   Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
173   As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?

174   Let's do't, I pray; and I this morning know
175   Where we shall find him most conveniently.