But that I am forbid To tell the secrets of my prison house, I could a tale unfold whose lightest word Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood, Make thy two eyes like stars start from their spheres, Thy knotted and combinéd locks to part, And each particular hair to stand on end Like quills upon the fretful porpentine.

They never seem to have notes on the stuff I’m really curious about.
This edition goes ahead and explains that a porcupine, when it gets anxious,
Lets forth its quills. Even if I couldn’t work out that a porpentine was a porcupine,
I still don’t know that I’d need this note.

What I want to understand is Hamlet’s hair.
It’s knotted? His locks are combinéd?
Does Hamlet have dreds?
Or is his father concerned about his son’s
Messy hair? Did young Hamlet, as a boy, never
Comb his hair? Did it get into tangles?
Does the Prince of Denmark have bird’s nests
In his hair? Patches of disorder?
This image makes it sound like his
Hair is a briar patch of a mess
That will untangle and separate
Into a porcupine’s back as soon
As his father speaks a word about
His experience of hell.
I want to understand this knotted business.
It feels like it could open up
A box of curiosities about Hamlet
And his father or just how Hamlet
Does his hair (or doesn’t do his hair)
When he gets up in the morning.


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