Adieu, adieu, adieu.

French again! This ghost speaks a lot of French for a Danish guy!
I guess the afterlife is like France.
Which for me, sounds pretty good.
I’d very much enjoy an afterlife of watching the sea undulate along the Riviera.
If I cannot eat good bread and cheese (Is there food in the afterlife?)
I’d at least enjoy the atmosphere.
For the English of this period, though, with their French animosity,
Perhaps to go to France would be to end up in hell.
The flames that purge his gross sins
Are French ones. The infernal fire keepers: French.
The language
Slipping into the dead
Like fish into water.

The glow-worm shows the matin to be near And ‘gins to pale his unaffected fire.

1) Why a French morning all of a sudden? Matin is the same number of syllables. The iambs work the same either way. We are in Denmark, after all, not France.
2) Glow-worm? Is this an actual glow-worm? Or is this a metaphor? Is the moon a glow-worm? A star?
3) Isn’t a fading glow-worm an awfully cute harbinger of morning?

Leave her to heaven And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge To prick and sting her.

I fully support the ghost’s strategy here.
There’s an assumption that Gertrude has these thorns,
That her conscience will nag at her
Sooner or later. He recommends just leaving her be.
I’m a big fan of leaving people be in general –
I’ll always get behind a Mind Your Own Business platform.
Hamlet doesn’t really follow this advice.
He attempts to pull on those thorns in her chest. He tries to jimmy them
Into a pricking position. He pokes at the swelling where they’re embedded
So much so that the ghost makes his only other appearance specifically
To put a stop to it. He doesn’t show up to help Hamlet put a sword
Through Claudius at prayer. He doesn’t nod his head in approval of the play
But he turns back up to tell his son to stop meddling in Gertrude’s heart.
It’s a curious and moving respect that he maintains for his wife. He remains
Her protector, her defender, even after being betrayed by her.
This makes me feel a sort of affection for the ghost when nothing else does.

But howsomever thou pursues this act, Taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive Against thy mother aught.

Now how’s the son of a murdered king
SUPPOSED to pursue this act
Without tainting his mind?
Seems to me, instilling a murderous directive
Is instant taint and it’s the ghost that’s
Doing the tainting.
However – howsomever
I also question how a soul
Could contrive anything at all
Unless I’m vastly misunderstanding
What a soul is.
It would seem to me that contrivance
Would be a quality of the brain
So I wonder how one prevents
Thy soul from contriving
Even against one’s mother
Or whomsoever.

Let not the royal bed of Denmark be A couch for luxury and damned incest.

When I played the Queen of Denmark
I ended up with the guy who played the king.
For the second part of the tour we shared a bed. Sometimes
I thought of that bed as the Royal Bed of Denmark.
I became fascinated with the metaphors
Surrounding our bed and a poem emerged –
a long, Hamlet-infused poem that I labored over
For years. It was my epic.
Because that time was epic.

But now is not the time for that story.
I will say that my royal bed of Denmark (or Harrisonburg, VA)
Was not a couch for luxury (though it was a water bed, it wasn’t ours)
Or damned incest (we barely knew each other) and while we did
Do some rolling around in that bed, there were many lines we did not cross.

I continue, though, to be fascinated with the Royal Bed.
The rituals of the Royal Bed in pre-Revolutionary France
For example, are fairly well documented,
Courtiers standing around while King and Queen got into bed,
Watching and waiting over conception.

What pomp, what rules
Surrounded the Royal Bed of Denmark?
Was Hamlet conceived publicly?

If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not!

Who does not have nature in him, in her?
We are nature. Nature streams through us
No matter how hard we attempt to suppress it.
Nature grows out of us like grass
Through the cracks in pavement –
Like grass making those cracks in pavement.
The more tightly we box it in,
The more violently it will leap out.
I’m thinking of Rosalind in As You Like It when she talks about woman’s wit –
the part where, if you close the doors on it, it will head out the window, if you close
the window, it’ll head out the chimney, close the chimney, it’ll seep through the cracks.
In a sense – Rosalind’s wit IS her nature –
You cannot remove it, it will grow and thrive
No matter how much concrete you place around it.
The only person who has no nature in him
Is one without life – so the Ghost here
Has set up a pretty clear directive to bear it not.

Most horrible!

Are images coursing through his imagination?
Is there one and then the next?
One horrible? The next, more horrible?
The third, the most horrible?
What does the ghost’s mind’s eye see?
Is it memories? Is it the past?
Could unseen demons be intervening –
Showing him images of his past or his present?
Are they pulling on his body?
Pulling his ghostly body to pieces?
Is this the beginning of a dissolution of the body?
Morning comes soon. Does it pull one part from another?
Scattering the self into the dawn?

O, horrible!

My grandparents have, for as long as I’ve known them,
Had a framed cartoon of Hagar the Horrible hanging in their den.
It’s signed by the artist and dedicated to my grandfather.
As a child, I was confused by the title of this cartoon.
Why was this Hagar so horrible?
He seemed pretty harmless.
Mostly he seemed to like to sleep and eat.
Was there something wrong with sleeping and eating?
I didn’t understand irony.
I didn’t understand history.
The whole thing seemed like one big mystery to me.
Every time I’d return to my grandparents’ den for a visit, I’d reexamine the cartoon.
At some point, I realized it was meant to be funny and each subsequent visit,
I’d try and work out why. By the time I understood what comedic tropes might be at play,
I didn’t find it funny.

O, horrible!

Only family can make you exclaim like this
Or if not actual family
Then the people close enough to qualify as family.
Betrayals this close are that much more horrible –
Particularly since you’re stuck with them.
Even a brother who murders you
Is still your brother
Even if you’re dead and a ghost,
Watching your kingdom fall apart from the other side.
Interestingly, it’s not the flames of hell that make him cry “O horrible”
Nor the Being doomed for a certain term to walk the earth –
It seems to be the pain of his brother sleeping with his wife
That really makes him exclaim. Murder: awful. . .But –
The ghost instructs his son to take care of the royal bed.
He has slipped from Revenge his foul and unnatural murder
To breaking up the Queen’s new relationship.
Perhaps because it is the betrayal that continues to sting
Whereas the murder is already over.