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Act 4, Scene 2


hamlet original play and modern translation
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Original Play

Modern Translation

Enter HAMLET

HAMLET enters.

HAMLET
Safely stowed.

HAMLET
Safely hidden.

GENTLEMEN
(from within) Hamlet! Lord Hamlet!

GENTLEMEN
(from offstage) Hamlet, Lord Hamlet!


HAMLET
But soft, what noise? Who calls on Hamlet?
Oh, here they come.

HAMLET
But wait, what's that noise? Who's calling for Hamlet? Oh, here they come.

Enter ROSENCRANTZ, GUILDENSTERN, and others

ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN enter with others.

*
5

ROSENCRANTZ
What have you done, my lord, with the dead body?

ROSENCRANTZ
What have you done with the dead body, my lord?

HAMLET
Compounded it with dust, whereto 'tis kin.

HAMLET
Gotten it dirty—ashes to ashes, and dust to dust, as they say.

ROSENCRANTZ
Tell us where 'tis, that we may take it thence
And bear it to the chapel.

ROSENCRANTZ
Tell us where it is, so we can take it from there to the chapel.

HAMLET
Do not believe it.

HAMLET
Don't believe it.

*
10

ROSENCRANTZ
Believe what?

ROSENCRANTZ
Believe what?

HAMLET
That I can keep your counsel and not mine own. Besides, to be demanded of a sponge! What replication should be made by the son of a king?

HAMLET
That I'd take your advice and than keep my own secret. Besides, to be questioned by a sponge! How should the son of a king respond to a sponge?

ROSENCRANTZ
Take you me for a sponge, my lord?

ROSENCRANTZ
You think that I'm a sponge, my lord?

*
15
*
*
*
*
20

HAMLET
Ay, sir, that soaks up the king's countenance, his rewards, his authorities. But such officers do the king best service in the end. He keeps them, like an ape, in the corner of his jaw, first mouthed to be last swallowed. When he needs what you have gleaned, it is but squeezing you and, sponge, you shall be dry again.

HAMLET
Yes, sir, a sponge that soaks up the king's approval, his rewards, and his decisions. Officers like that give the king the best service in the end. He keeps them in his mouth like an ape, moving them around from one side of his mouth to the other. When he needs to know what you have learned, he can just squeeze you like a sponge and you'll be dry again.

ROSENCRANTZ
I understand you not, my lord.

ROSENCRANTZ
I don't understand, my lord.

HAMLET
I am glad of it. A knavish speech sleeps in a foolish ear.

HAMLET
I'm glad about that. Slick words will never get a response from a fool.

ROSENCRANTZ
My lord, you must tell us where the body is and go with us to the king.

ROSENCRANTZ
My lord, you must tell us where the body is, and then go with us to the king.

*
25

HAMLET
The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.
The king is a thing—

HAMLET
The body's with the real king, but the current king's not with the body. The king's a thing …

GUILDENSTERN
A thing, my lord?

GUILDENSTERN
A "thing," my lord?

HAMLET
Of nothing. Bring me to him. Hide, fox, and all after.

HAMLET
Of no importance. Take me to him. Actually, try and find me!

Exeunt

They exit.

 

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