Hamlet: Act 1, Scene 5

           Enter GHOST and HAMLET.  

  1   Where wilt thou lead me? speak; I'll go no further.

  2   Mark me.

  2                         I will.

2. My hour is almost come: As in the first scene of the play, the "hour" is sometime after midnight. Also as in the first scene of the play, the "hour" seems to be very close to dawn, when the Ghost must cease to "walk the night."
  2                                         My hour is almost come,
  3   When I to sulphurous and tormenting flames
  4   Must render up myself.

  4                                        Alas, poor Ghost!

  5   Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing
  6   To what I shall unfold.

  6                                        Speak; I am bound to hear.

  7   So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.

  8   What?

  9   I am thy father's spirit,
 10   Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
11. fast: do penance.
 11   And for the day confined to fast in fires,
12. crimes: sins.  days of nature: i.e., life on earth. 13. But that: were it not that.
 12   Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
 13   Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
 14   To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
 15   I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
16. harrow up: shred, torment.
 16   Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
17. Make  . . .  spheres: i.e., make your two eyes—as unnaturally as stars leaving their orbits— ...more 18. knotted and combined locks: i.e., hair neatly arranged.  part: separate. 20. fearful porpentine: frightened porcupine. 21. eternal blazon: revelation of eternal things. 22. List: listen.
 17   Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
 18   Thy knotted and combined locks to part
 19   And each particular hair to stand on end,
 20   Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
 21   But this eternal blazon must not be
 22   To ears of flesh and blood. List, list, O, list!
 23   If thou didst ever thy dear father love—

 24   O God!

 25   Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.

 26   Murder!

27-28. Murder most foul, as in the best it is; / But this most foul, strange and unnatural: All murder is "foul" (dirty, criminal), but the murder of King Hamlet by his brother is "most foul" because it was done in a sneaky, cowardly way; Claudius killed his brother by pouring poison in King Hamlet's ear when he was taking a nap in his garden. And the murder is "unnatural" because by nature, Claudius should love his brother, not kill him.
 27   Murder most foul, as in the best it is;
 28   But this most foul, strange and unnatural.

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

 31                                        I find thee apt;
 32   And duller shouldst thou be than the fat weed
33. Lethe: river of Hades, the water of which made the drinker forget the past. wharf: bank. 34. stir in this: take action on this cause. 35. orchard: garden.
 33   That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
 34   Wouldst thou not stir in this. Now, Hamlet, hear:
 35   'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
 36   A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark
37. forged process: false account.
 37   Is by a forged process of my death
38. abus'd: deceived.
 38   Rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth,
 39   The serpent that did sting thy father's life
 40   Now wears his crown.

 40                                     O my prophetic soul!
 41   My uncle?

42. adulterate: adulterous.
 42   Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
 43   With witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts—
 44   O wicked wit and gifts, that have the power
 45   So to seduce!—won to his shameful lust
 46   The will of my most seeming-virtuous queen:
 47   O Hamlet, what a falling-off was there!
 48   From me, whose love was of that dignity
 49   That it went hand in hand even with the vow
 50   I made to her in marriage, and to decline
 51   Upon a wretch whose natural gifts were poor
 52   To those of mine!
 53   But virtue, as it never will be moved,
54. shape of heaven: heavenly form.
 54   Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven,
 55   So lust, though to a radiant angel link'd,
56. sate: satiate.
 56   Will sate itself in a celestial bed,
 57   And prey on garbage.
 58   But, soft! methinks I scent the morning air;
 59   Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
 60   My custom always of the afternoon,
61. secure: without suspicion.
 61   Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
62. hebona: a deadly poison.
 62   With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial,
 63   And in the porches of my ears did pour
64. leperous distillment: a distilled (and therefore potent) liquid which produces the disfigurement of leprosy. 66. quicksilver: mercury.
 64   The leperous distillment; whose effect
 65   Holds such an enmity with blood of man
 66   That swift as quicksilver it courses through
 67   The natural gates and alleys of the body,
 68   And with a sudden vigor doth posset
 69   And curd, like eager droppings into milk,
70. thin and wholesome blood: To this day (C.E. 2015) people take ...more 71. tetter: scabby eruption.  bark'd: formed a rough covering, like bark on a tree. 72. lazar-like: leper-like.
 70   The thin and wholesome blood: so did it mine;
 71   And a most instant tetter bark'd about,
 72   Most lazar-like, with vile and loathsome crust,
 73   All my smooth body.
 74   Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
75. at once: all at the same time.  dispatch'd: suddenly deprived.
 75   Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd:
 76   Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
77. Unhous'led: without having received the sacrament.  disappointed: without (spiritual) preparation.  unanel'd: unanointed, without extreme unction.
 77   Unhousel'd, disappointed, unanel'd,
 78   No reckoning made, but sent to my account
 79   With all my imperfections on my head:
 80   O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
81. nature: natural feelings [of a son for his father].
 81   If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not;
 82   Let not the royal bed of Denmark be
83. luxury: lust.
 83   A couch for luxury and damned incest.
 84   But, howsoever thou pursuest this act,
 85   Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive
 86   Against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven
 87   And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge,
 88   To prick and sting her. Fare thee well at once!
89. The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
morning. 90. And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire: and his cold fire begins to grow pale.
 89   The glow-worm shows the matin to be near,
 90   And 'gins to pale his uneffectual fire:
 91   Adieu, adieu, adieu! Remember me.

           [Exit Ghost.]

 92   O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
93. couple: add.
 93   And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;
 94   And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
 95   But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
 96   Ay, thou poor Ghost, while memory holds a seat
97. globe: head.
 97   In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
98. table: writing tablet.
 98   Yea, from the table of my memory
99. fond: foolish.
 99   I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
100. saws: wise sayings.  forms: shapes, images.  pressures: impressions.
100   All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
101   That youth and observation copied there;
102   And thy commandment all alone shall live
103   Within the book and volume of my brain,
104   Unmix'd with baser matter: yes, by heaven!
105   O most pernicious woman!
106   O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
107. tables: i.e., notebook.
107   My tables—meet it is I set it down,
108   That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
109   At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark:


110. So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word: It appears to me that Hamlet is writing in a notebook. After he is finished writing that "one may smile, and smile, and be a villain," he says, "So, uncle, there you are," meaning "So much for you"; he then writes down a reminder of his "word," his promise to remember the Ghost.
110   So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;
111   It is 'Adieu, adieu! remember me.'
112   I have sworn't.

      HORATIO [Within.]
113   My lord, my lord—

      MARCELLUS [Within.]
113                       Lord Hamlet—

           Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS.

113                                          Heavens secure him!

114. So be it!: I think that Hamlet has finished writing in his notebook, and is once again promising to remember the Ghost.
114   So be it!

115   Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

116. Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come: Hamlet answers Marcellus' halloo with a falconer's cry.
116   Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come.

117   How is't, my noble lord?

117                                         What news, my lord?

118   O, wonderful!

118                             Good my lord, tell it.

119   No; you'll reveal it.

120   Not I, my lord, by heaven.

120                                          Nor I, my lord.

121   How say you, then; would heart of man once think it?
122   But you'll be secret?

122                                    Ay, by heaven, my lord.

123   There's never a villain dwelling in all Denmark
124. arrant: complete.
124   But he's an arrant knave.

125   There needs no Ghost, my lord, come from the grave
126   To tell us this.

126                                 Why, right; you are i' the right;
127. circumstance: ceremony.
127   And so, without more circumstance at all,
128   I hold it fit that we shake hands and part:
129   You, as your business and desire shall point you;
130   For every man has business and desire,
131   Such as it is; and for mine own poor part,
132   Look you, I'll go pray.

133   These are but wild and whirling words, my lord.

134   I'm sorry they offend you, heartily;
135   Yes, 'faith heartily.

135                                   There's no offence, my lord.

136. Saint Patrick: The keeper of Purgatory (where the Ghost abides during the day), St. Patrick was also the patron saint of blunders and confusion. 138. honest: genuine; truth-telling.
136   Yes, by Saint Patrick, but there is, Horatio,
137   And much offence too. Touching this vision here,
138   It is an honest Ghost, that let me tell you:
139   For your desire to know what is between us,
140   O'ermaster 't as you may. And now, good friends,
141   As you are friends, scholars and soldiers,
142   Give me one poor request.

143   What is't, my lord? we will.

144   Never make known what you have seen tonight.

145   My lord, we will not.

145                                      Nay, but swear't.

145                                                                 In faith,
146   My lord, not I.

146                                Nor I, my lord, in faith.

147. Upon my sword: i.e., on the cross formed by the hilt.
147   Upon my sword.

147                               We have sworn, my lord, already.

148   Indeed, upon my sword, indeed.

           Ghost cries under the stage.

149   Swear.

150. truepenny: trusty fellow.
150   Ah, ha, boy! say'st thou so? art thou there, truepenny?
151   Come on—you hear this fellow in the cellarage—
152   Consent to swear.

152                                  Propose the oath, my lord.

153   Never to speak of this that you have seen,
154   Swear by my sword.

      GHOST [Beneath.]
155   Swear.

156. Hic et ubique: here and everywhere. (Latin.)
156   Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground.
157   Come hither, gentlemen,
158   And lay your hands again upon my sword:
159   Swear by my sword
160   Never to speak of this that you have heard,

      GHOST [Beneath.]
161   Swear by his sword.

162   Well said, old mole! canst work i' the earth so fast?
163. pioner: digger, miner.
163   A worthy pioner! Once more remove, good friends.

164   O day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

165. as a stranger give it welcome: give it the welcome due in courtesy to strangers.
167. your philosophy: the natural philosophy [i.e., science] that everyone talks about.
165   And therefore as a stranger give it welcome.
166   There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
167   Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
168   But come—
169   Here, as before, never, so help you mercy,
170   How strange or odd soe'er I bear myself,
171   As I perchance hereafter shall think meet
172. To put an antic disposition on: To adopt weird ...more
172   To put an antic disposition on,
173   That you, at such times seeing me, never shall,
174. With arms encumber'd thus: folded, crossed, this way. ...more 175. doubtful: i.e., supposedly ambiguous, but actually transparent. 176. We could, an if we would: i.e., we could explain, if we chose to. 177. list to: cared to, were inclined to.  There  . . .  might: i.e., there are those ...more 178. such ambiguous giving out: similar, ...more 179. know aught of me: i.e., know anything about my state of mind.
174   With arms encumber'd thus, or this headshake,
175   Or by pronouncing of some doubtful phrase,
176   As "Well, well, we know," or "We could, an if we would,"
177   Or "If we list to speak," or "There be, an if they might,"
178   Or such ambiguous giving out, to note
179   That you know aught of me—this not to do,
180   So grace and mercy at your most need help you, Swear.

      GHOST [Beneath.]
181   Swear.

           [They swear.]

182   Rest, rest, perturbed spirit! So, gentlemen,
183   With all my love I do commend me to you:
184   And what so poor a man as Hamlet is
185   May do, to express his love and friending to you,
186   God willing, shall not lack. Let us go in together;
187. still: always.

187   And still your fingers on your lips, I pray.
188   The time is out of joint: O cursed spite,
189   That ever I was born to set it right!
190. Nay, come, let's go together: It appears to me that Marcellus and Horatio are so confounded by seeing the Ghost, hearing the Ghost, and listening to Hamlet's "wild and whirling words" that they can't move until Hamlet invites them to go with him.
190   Nay, come, let's go together.