Note: Consists of a poem and a critical analysis both written by me.
The pen would tremble in my hand
The fervent ink would flow in prime,
To start the story with no end--
An ageless tale told in rhyme.
The ever-young and graceful Hamlet,
Preserved in ink, upon a tablet,
Shall never fade nor ever rust.
A poet’s breath shall sweep the dust
And make anew what was forgotten.
Which shall return like any season.
Restoring life in words of reason,
It will complete what was begotten
And preaching loudly from the page,
It will awake the silent age.
Thus we begin, let’s take a glimpse,
Somewhere in Denmark, long ago--
Young Hamlet lived inside his dreams,
And trusted visions that he saw.
The throne was his and so was glory
And this he knew. Without a worry,
He eagerly looked to that day
When he’d be king. The prince was gay
Just knowing that he had control.
He placed himself above his friends,
The world was lying in his hands--
In every game they played. His soul
Was branded thus by destined fate.
The role was his and Hamlet played!
He mimicked time upon his face,
He craved adventure, hungered trouble--
Just like the rest, despised disgrace
And fell in love, for it was common.
He loved to hunt, enjoyed the thrill,
Always the first to get the kill,
With passion, lacking guilt and shame,
He finished off the wounded game
And feasted on the bleeding beast.
Was always proud of his feat,
All dinner bragged about his deed,
About his strength, and was not pleased—
Never received full satisfaction--
Until he’d get a kind reaction.
His love was rare and so unique
That many viewed it as deceiving.
Effected to affection’s peak,
He freely spoke about his feelings.
Ophelia, he loved you dearly!
At night he dreamt of you. Sincerely,
He wrote to you about his love, --
You never trusted him enough
And doubting his faultless will,
Mislead your heart. Your heart--
Not fooled, knew from the start
That he was pure. He loved you still!
Demanding strongly, Hamlet yearned
To have you love him in return.
Then, sorrow struck him with a blow--
So suddenly, old Hamlet died
Our Prince, -- he buried sadness slow
And by the tomb he moaned and cried.
Sad hours dragged. Clock’s heavy hands
Would close the casket, tie loose ends
And bury pain. Yet grief remained,
And moved by feelings that he gained.
Our hero lost all sleep. No longer
Were his dreams as bright and clear.
Yet, since that moment, not a tear
He shed, but grew much stronger.
His weary face showed no remorse,
The world was falling on its course.
The sun was shinning and the weather
Was pleasant and the grass was growing.
And all was living—all that mattered!
And all was blossoming, not knowing
That such a tragedy took place.
The children’s eyes sincerely gazed
As flowers bloomed and all seemed just!
The world was moving as it must.
And Hamlet picked up by this spirit
Thought not about his father’s death
All was alive. And nature’s breath
Blew on his face and he would hear it.
And bringing Hamlet back to life
The nature with excitement thrived.
Abruptly, calmness turned to rage--
And Hamlet walked around sunken,
The Queen, his mother, was engaged
To marry Claudius, his uncle.
Too sudden! -- Not a month yet passed
Since king deceased, and she would cast
Her sight upon another man. A curse
Indeed, for such a deed is worse
Than mortal sin and for our Prince
The past would slowly come to vanish.
He felt abandoned, sunk in anguish.
And cursed his fate. And ever since
His father’s death, could not be reached--
He lost his touch and lacked his speech.
While held imprisoned in his castle,
Watched closely by the hungry eyes--
He searched for truth, and in that hassle,
He found nothing but disguise.
Pure vengeance grew in Hamlet’s heart
He, with this notion could not part,
But stood against it. All was blurry!
Some say-- he left his nest too early,
And others-- that he had no nest.
To helplessly see dreams grow molded,
Or be delighted blindfolded? --
Who is to judge what is the best?
Thus Hamlet watched all he adored
Become offensive and abhorred.
One night, his lengthy contemplation
Was shortened greatly by his servants.
The words they spoke aroused sensations
And gave his will a whole new purpose.
He followed them and he was stunned! --
Appeared a phantom and a bond
Was formed. The sun would rise,
And melt the vision in his eyes
And all was still before his sight.
And all was quiet, all was calm.
Just like the sky before the storm,
All seemed so trite, but in that night
Eternally, three fates have crossed--
The son, the father and the ghost.
Their will was simple: to avenge--
Bring Justice forth to do her part!
Our Hamlet, yearned to get revenge,
And yet remain true in his heart.
But, was he sure of his assumption?
He re-examined his presumption
And found no alibi, no cause.
Did he believe his father’s ghost?
Was it the Devil? Who could know?
These questions, yet to be contested,
Remained a burden and unanswered
Would stress our hero more and more.
A plot was plotted for pure eyes
To catch the killer by surprise.
He asked himself in deep depression,
“To be or not?” and in his voice,
He sought the answer. In confession
He realized -- he had no choice.
“To be... but how?” he’d often ponder
But found no answer in his wonder
Other that “be.” In contemplation,
He’d seek a godly revelation,
But nothing came. Enslaved in grief,
He dreamt that all was quite well
And yet he couldn’t brake the spell
Which filled his thoughts. And brief
Were nights, long were the days,
Which he would spend in search of space.
As long as conscience plays her role,
You are alive, my cherished reader, --
If nothing can disturb your soul,
Then you’ve deceased and neither
Love nor breath can bring you back.
You’re always judged by what you lack,
Not what you have. Don’t waste
A single breath in rapid haste,
But drink love’s potion-- magic brew,
And breathe to love and strive to live,
To sense the pain, to feel the grief--
This above all: to self be true!
Enough of morals! I’m excited--
A play is staged and we’re invited!
Hamlet, the ultimate observer--
Sees all as all observe the play.
The actor speaks with ardent fervor
The lines that he was told to say--
He states, “...hands apt, drugs fit
And time agreeing...” He does the deed.
Pours poison in King’s ears and then
Out of the second row, the man
Arises. “Let strucken deer go weep,”
States Hamlet and the lights go on.
The play is left half-way undone
For some-- “...and some must sleep.”
An echo duplicates-- “hands apt...”--
The mouse falls into the trap.
Prince Hamlet manifests in poems--
So cruel and very strongly versed--
Thus ends one play -- another opens,
Or better yet evolves from first.
Eyes focus, players lose their shield,
The player’s faces-- now revealed!
True drama starts! Becoming conscious,
The rivals meet and silence plunges!
And walking slowly on the stage
Our hero stares into the night--
His future stands before his sight
And preaches like a clever sage.
And only minutes separate
Two lives from finding their fate.
As one sought heaven for forgiveness
While kneeling down in a prayer,
The other raised his sword in bleakness
But could not slay the praying slayer.
For he who meets his death confessing
Shall go to heaven with a blessing
And find God. Thus Hamlet left
Bearing revenge-- a massive heft,
Upon his shoulders. He was certain--
His heart was beating like a drum--
The destined day would surely come
To free our hero from this burden.
And thus he walked away appeased
And left his enemy in peace.
Seeking no vengeance from he holy,
So wise in thought, he walked away,
For every king must have his glory
And every dog will have its day.
In rage, he entered Gertrude’s room
His anger had no time to cool.
He harshly spoke and heard a cry--
A moan, a wail. And a spy
Behind a tapestry met death.
Was Hamlet acting out of fury?
From madness? -- was he truly
Mad? Or did he simply have
No reason? --What’s done is done!
The Queen felt pity for her son.
Oh, Gertrude! Overfilled with sadness,
You were the victim of this plot!
You prayed for peace and in this madness
Your eyes refused to look at blood.
And deeply struck by this commotion,
You buried deeply your emotion
And slept in slumber to that day,
When Hamlet entered in a fray
And gave you sight. He stabbed
Your innocence, spoke daggers,
And he exposed and didn’t stagger
The anger in his bosom trapped.
And looking at your soul, inside
You could not find a place to hide.
Something was rotting in the state.
And slowly crumbling, it wailed.
No longer could our hero wait
And thus to England Hamlet sailed.
With conscience, Hamlet could not sleep,
One single notion he would keep
That all was going for the worst
And death was lying on his course.
He chose to test his intuition
And proved it true. All came to focus!
King Claudius gave out the orders,
And signed the paper-- his commission,
Where he commanded to his men
To slay the Prince upon the land.
King’s wicked plan was now exposed
And Hamlet, overflowed with hatred,
Would roar in rage, and from exhaust,
He cursed the ship, the wind and nature,
In passionate distress, he shivered
And all seemed wicked, false and evil.
He was alone in his belief--
He felt forsaken, lost, deceived.
Just as the moment turned intense,
Our hero fled from the disaster.
His fortune fell on two imposters
Whom in the past, he called his friends.
And all alone he traveled back,--
Which takes us to the final act.
Into a churchyard Hamlet wandered
And by one monument he stopped.
And Hamlet’s eyes perceived in wonder
And from the weariness they dropped.
There, in the grave, his past would fester,
“Here lies a joker and a jester...” --
Poor Yorick! You were once his teacher,
But now deceased, -- left not a feature.
Yet Hamlet still recalled with pleasance-
The smile that he loved so much
He saw the hands he used to touch
His memory preserved your essence
And Hamlet carried in his mind
The weight of what was left behind.
Inside his head, decades and ages
Decayed and faded in the night.
He saw the King, the Queen and Laetres,--
Stood short of breath. Before his sight
His love was buried. Pain struck deep!
His soul appalled began to weep.
He went to offer his condolence
But Laetres, blind to his solace,
Attacked him and refused to see
His innocence. Prince Hamlet then,
Would try to reason with this man,--
Laetres ignored him. Even he,
Stood by the crown hypnotized—
No longer seeing through his eyes.
Words often leave a deadly touch.
The noble Laetres felt it. Hence,
He challenged Hamlet to a match
And Hamlet, taught in youth to fence,
Agreed. And both were ready to defend
Their honor. With a rapid hand
The Prince struck first and soon
Again. Then Laetres. From the wound
Blood dripped. In haste, they traded
Swords. And then, under a magic spell,
Both froze at once, both fighters fell
And instantly two stars have faded.
And lying on the floor, in blood,
Laetres unmasked the wicked plot.
Both saw the crown’s charming shine,
And watched the sun play on its tips.
Meanwhile, Gertrude drank the wine,
Which was prepared for Hamlet’s lips.—
Another death from poisoned drink!
Prince Hamlet rose and killed the king
And fell again, his sword would drop.
And thus in Denmark, chaos stopped.
And only Gods watched in dismay,
That day, as tons of blood was shed,
A country-- ruined, people-- dead,
They watched it all. Thus ends the play.
I pray this story strikes you deep
Some must live on, “...and some must sleep.”
To sacrifice yourself for virtue,
For mere belief, which seems deceiving!
To be! To stand against your fortune!
How sad is life? -- how worthy living!
Dear Hamlet this we owe to you! --
You challenged life and this you knew,
You walked to certain death. I pray,
That I could take your path some day
And die for honor! Die with pride!
To see what dreams will come, if any,
And if one comes, to pray for many.
And seeing stars fall in the night,
To make a wish that they would rise
And shine again inside our eyes!
Time is a gathering of moments,
Sometimes we act, sometimes rehearse.
Thus ends one play-- another opens,
Or better yet, evolves from first,
Which never ends. In admiration,
We closely watch each situation
Develop into something bigger, --
So big, that many cannot figure
The moral it conveys so clearly.
So what’s the moral? -- How can I
Describe to you what’s in your eye?
And this I say to you sincerely:
Perhaps it’s better not to see,
And simply let the question be.
By Ray Leer
I. The author opens up his poem with a prologue, in which he clearly shows his intentions of writing My Hamlet. There was a great controversy at the moment when this poem was first published. Critics attacked the author for trying to re-write Shakespeare. The truth is that was never his intention. The sole purpose of the poem was to “make anew what was forgotten.” The author tried to preserve the classical play and at the same time to make it appeal to the new generation, to “awake the silent age” as he expressed it himself.
It is also interesting to highlight line seven of this stanza. The image of a fading star is reinstated often in this poem. (see note to stanza XXIV.)
II. The meaning behind lines three and four could be interpreted in two different ways. First and foremost, by the contextual clues, we get the notion that the author is talking about Hamlet’s goals and beliefs. Prince Hamlet knew that he was an heir to the king and thought that it was certain for the throne to be his. This idea is further reinstated later on in the stanza, where Hamlet is portrayed as a young adult who craves control and attention. Although the more obvious understanding of these lines deals with Hamlet’s desire to become king, an element of foreshadowing is applied in the word “vision.” (see note to line IX).
Line 13 is believed to be inspired by Vladimir Vysotsky, who in his poem about Hamlet wrote, “The destiny has branded me at birth.” However, in this poem great emphasis is placed on the word “fate,” which also has multiple meanings. First, let’s examine it as it was most likely intended, as a synonym of “destiny.” What the author was trying to imply here is that Hamlet was born into a role and he had to perform. He was destined to become the ruler. He was expected to tough and in control and thus he was. Not until the apparition of the Ghost did Hamlet give up his own will and focussed on the will of his father (again see note to stanza IX).
Another meaning of the word “fate” could suggest a totally contradicting idea. If “fate” is read as a synonym of “death,” the reader can get the notion that Hamlet’s downfall, rather than prosperity, was certain.
III. The sole purpose of stanza III was to contrast young Hamlet and Hamlet as he is seen at the end of the play. Young Hamlet always desired to rule, but ironically was mostly a follower. He went with the flow of the times (“mimicked time upon his face”) and did everything that was expected of him. He never thought about what he was doing, nor ever cared for it. He wanted to show the people that he would be a good ruler when time came. While trying to satisfy others, Hamlet never examined his own conscience. (see note to XI)
IV. Hamlet was certainly in love with Ophelia. His love was so genuine that many people viewed it as his madness. In the play, Polonius constantly tried to convince King Claudius that love was the origin of Hamlet’s madness. Being obedient to her father, Ophelia did not know what to believe, but deep inside she felt Hamlet’s love and knew that he loved her purely.
Examining one’s conscience is one of the most important themes of Hamlet. What is fascinating about this part is that in the play, Hamlet was believed to be “crazy” only after he realized the truth about his father’s murder, while in this poem, the author implies this idea before the death of King Hamlet, making the readers consider whether Hamlet was truly mad or simply in love.
V. In stanza V, we as the readers, can see just how much Hamlet loved his father. He continues to grieve about him long after his death. At the same time, Hamlet is maturing. The sudden tragedy of losing a loved one makes him realize what is really important to him. In a way, he awakes from his dreams of becoming a ruler and sees the reality. Then, slowly, everything begins to fall back to normal.
VI. This stanza is particularly interesting because here the author uses external environment to compare to the internal environment of the character. He allows us to take a look inside Hamlet who is always effected by what surrounds him (see note to stanza III). He needs everything around him to be perfect in order to feel good inside. However, in the next stanza, we see him maturing and defending his personal beliefs even though the others might not agree with him. Stanza VI serves as a transitional medium in Hamlet’s growing up.
VII. The author very clearly portrays Hamlet’s feeling toward the marriage. Hamlet is very upset with his mother and blames her for the sin of marrying another man shortly after the death of her husband. In the play, no one other than Hamlet, sees anything wrong with the Queen’s actions. Hamlet feels abandoned by everything that he used to cherish. He instantly matures and let’s go of his past. The stanza ends with Hamlet left all alone in deep thought, wondering about his life.
While the author shows Hamlet’s attitude, he never plainly states whether the Queen is guilty or not. He leaves this decision for the readers. Such style of writing makes the poem three-dimensional and allows the readers’ conscience to interact with the plot of the story. (this is also evident in stanza XII.)
VIII. In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Denmark is portrayed as a prison, where everyone is watched closely. Throughout the play, there are numerous times when different characters spy on each other. King Claudius states at one point in the play, “madness in great ones must not unwatched go.” Hamlet’s every action is closely observed by everybody around him, including his old friends, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who are sent by the king to spy on Hamlet. This theme is also stressed in My Hamlet. In the first two lines of stanza VIII, the author establishes this topic.
Hamlet is left alone to ponder about everything that has happened. He cannot see how something that he has believed in so much could be so disgraceful. He used to live in a dream world where everything was perfect, now he’s beginning to awake from his sleep.
The author also brings up a good topic, which should not be neglected. Was it possible for Hamlet to keep on living under those circumstances and not see anything? Was it his strong will power that made him realize the truth or did he simply have no choice? Once more, the reader is left pondering for himself.
IX. Boris Pasternak once wrote about Hamlet, “From the moment of the ghost’s appearance, Hamlet gives up his will in order to do the will of him that sent him." Let’s examine what he meant. From the beginning of the play, Hamlet is portrayed as a man with great natural ability to rule over the people. It is safe to assume that Hamlet would have been a great king if it wasn’t for his sacrifice to carry out the will of his father. The author follows through with this idea in his poem.
The line, “the sun would rise and melt the vision in his eyes...” could again be interpreted in two ways. In a literal sense, the “vision” may represent the apparition of the ghost as it disappeared when the sun began to rise. In a more symbolic sense, this line can represent Hamlet’s awakening from the sweet dream (vision) of his childhood. The sun could represent a kind of a revelation that awakes the hero. Thus we are left wondering, “was there ever a ghost or perhaps simply Hamlet’s moral sense that awoke him?”
In lines ten and eleven of this stanza, the author uses the element of foreshadowing. The phrase “the sky before the storm” suggests that something major is about to happen, perhaps internally in the character of Hamlet (see note to stanza XI).
Further reminiscence of Pasternak is seen in the last two lines of the stanza. The description of the “crossing fates” was a frequent image in Pasternak’s poetry. In perhaps his most famous poem, Winter Night, Pasternak wrote, “On the illumined ceiling, shadows swayed-- a cross of arms, a cross of legs, a cross of fate.”
The last line is also believed to be influenced by Pasternak. In his poem, Hamlet, Boris Pasternak established a religious theme when he quoted Jesus from the bible praying to his father to make the analogy between Jesus and Hamlet. Both knew that a tragedy was inevasible and the guides for both were their fathers. Jesus prayed to God, while Hamlet looked to the ghost of his father for advice. This idea is clearly established in the last line of the stanza.
X. While the author shows Hamlet’s desire to avenge the death of his father, he never reveals who the killer is. The author expects the reader to know the plot of the story. The purpose behind this poem is not to simply summarize Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but to raise certain questions in the readers’ minds that are worth to be examined. The style of the whole poem depends on the readers’ knowledge of the story.
A great issue that has been examined by many, but never solved, is the nature of the ghost. Prince Hamlet himself is not sure whether to trust the ghost or not. At first sight of the apparition, Hamlet is stunned and doesn’t know what to believe. Is the apparition evil or has it come to help Hamlet? Hamlet is skeptical of the ghost. He states, “the spirit that I have seen may be the Devil, and the Devil hath power to assume a pleasing shape.” Hamlet senses a “foul play.” At the same time, Hamlet desires to gain the wisdom from the ghost to confirm his emotions. To make sure that the ghost was telling the truth, Hamlet plots a way to test the possible murderer of his father (see note to stanza XIII).
XI. Hamlet, as he is portrayed in this poem, is not bothered by the question “to be or not to be?” He knows that he only has one choice and that is “to be.” He knows that he has to live, there’s no other way. The problem for him is facing the reality. Should Hamlet simply neglect everything that he doesn’t approve of or should he do something about it and by doing so, sacrifice his destiny of becoming a king? That’s the question that stands before Hamlet! He is faced with a dilemma “whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against the sea of troubles...” He is unsure whether he should close his eyes and dream that everything is well or to do something about it.
Line eight of this stanza further establishes the religious theme in the poem (see note to stanza IX).
XII. Here, the author talks about the moral sense of each human being. He brings up a fascinating concept that a person cannot live without his conscience. If an individual’s goes against what he truly believes, then even love is powerless in helping that person. The author goes on to express his outlook on life. “Live life to the fullest!” is the basic moral behind those lines. To end the stanza, in line twelve, the author rephrases a quote from Shakespeare, “This above all: to self be true!” The stanza ends with an invitation to the “play within a play” which Hamlet stages to catch the killer. The style of the poem makes it seem as if the author is writing in a dialogue form.
Stanza XII is addressed strictly to the readers, which again, helps to make the poem “three-dimensional.” Although he describes the basic theme of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the author urges the readers to consider the topic for themselves and not to simply judge the actions of a character.
XIII. For the second time, the author rephrases a quote from the play (see note to the previous stanza). He begins the stanza, calling Hamlet the “ultimate observer.” In the play, Ophelia called Hamlet “the observer of all observers.” Everybody was focussing on Hamlet’s madness and the way he was acting (see stanza VIII). Yet, at the same time, Hamlet remained the “ultimate observer” seeing everything that goes on in Denmark. He knows all of the affairs and the secrets that others cannot see.
This stanza describes the “play within a play” that was staged by Hamlet as a “mousetrap” to catch his father’s killer. The Players perform The Murder of Conzago, a drama that reenacts the murder of the king twice, -- once in a silent version and once in a dialogue of a play. Hamlet watches his uncle’s reaction when the king is killed by his brother. Claudius unable to take it, gets up from his seat and leaves. Hamlet is now sure of his previous assumptions. The “play within a play” has two purposes; one-- it exposes both, Hamlet and Claudius, and two-- it proves that the ghost was telling the truth.
The quotes from the play make the story more realistic and at the same time add suspense to the plot. The repetition is used in the thirteenth line of the stanza to stress the importance of what has just occurred. “Hands apt...” is repeated to reinstate that Claudius believed that he was going to be able to get away with murder, but Hamlet was able to catch him. It is also interesting to know that many ideas and themes are constantly repeated throughout the poem. The “mousetrap” works and proves that Claudius was the murderer.
XIV. In this stanza, the author sums up the effects of the “mousetrap.” Now that Hamlet knows that Claudius is the murderer and Claudius is sure that Hamlet knows his secret, the true drama begins! This stanza build up even more suspense leading the readers to what will happen next.
Once again, Pasternak’s imagery is reminiscent in the poem. Pasternak used the image of Hamlet standing on the stage and wondering about his future in his poem, Hamlet. Although Hamlet is all alone on the stage, he is able to grasp from the silence what will occur in the near future (see Boris Pasternak’s poem at the beginning of the book).
Again, the word “fate” is used to imply two different meanings (see note to stanza II).
XV. Hamlet walks into the room, while Claudius is praying for forgiveness. Claudius has realized his sin and he is now scared of what might happen to him. Hamlet stands behind him and doesn’t do anything. It is important to know that when the ghost of his father appeared to Hamlet, the ghost described living in hell. Hamlet is conscious of that and knows that if he kills Claudius now, Claudius will be free of sin and will surely go to heaven. Hamlet shows the strength of his character by simply walking away. He is so sure that the day of revenge will come, he doesn’t feel bad for letting go of this opportunity. Revenge remains the only thing on his mind and he carries it with him wherever he goes. He carries the burden of memory and the weight of the desire to get vengeance for his father’s murder.
XVI. In line four of the stanza, the author once again quotes a phrase from the play. Hamlet is sure that revenge will come one day if he is patient. Being able to walk away, Hamlet shows his strong and wise character. He walks into Gertrude’s room where enraged, he kills Polonius who was eavesdropping on their conversation. (see note to stanza VIII).
The author goes on to question the action of Hamlet, whether he was acting out of fury or from his madness. Hamlet did not know whom he was stabbing, and only after the incident he realized that it was Polonius. He was so fed up with the disgraceful actions of everyone around him that he didn’t care who it was. So, we have to question ourselves, “was Hamlet simply caught up in the moment or did he intend to kill?” The author leaves it up to the readers to decide for themselves.
XVII. The innocence of the Queen is shown in this stanza. While many might blame the Queen for her actions, the author calls her the “victim of the plot.” It is possible that there’s sarcasm in that phrase. He goes on to describe how all of her life she slept in slumber, closing her eyes on everything that she did not want to see. This is very similar to the description of young Hamlet who believed only what he desired to believe (see note to stanza III). Now, Hamlet opens her sight to what has happened and she begins to feel guilty for her actions.
Hamlet was warned by the ghost not to attack the Queen for she is innocent of everything that has occurred. The ghost blames everything on Claudius. Yet, Hamlet still decides to confront his mother and express to her how he feels. This shows that Hamlet is not controlled by the ghost but simply guided. Therefore, Hamlet’s actions cannot be blamed on the ghost. Hamlet takes full responsibility for what he does.
XVIII. The author rephrases another quote from the play. He changes “something is rotten in the state of Denmark” to “something was rotting in the state...” It was impossible for Hamlet to remain in Denmark any longer after the murder of Polonius. Thus, Hamlet is convinced by the King to flee to England and let things settle down.
However, on his voyage, Hamlet is bothered by a notion that he has been deceived. Hamlet believes that “death is lying on his course,” which foreshadows the death of our hero (see note to stanza II). He finds a commission from the King, in which Claudius orders to his men to kill Hamlet upon the arrival to England.
XIX. Hamlet was able to escape his wicked fortune, which fell on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who were sent by the King to watch Hamlet. As always, Hamlet is kept under surveillance by the king (see note to stanza VIII). After escaping a near death experience, Hamlet is filled with new feelings of hatred and rage. He is anxious to get back to Denmark.
XX. Line five of this stanza should be examined more closely. It has both, a literal and a symbolic meaning. As it is read literally, Hamlet finds the grave of his jester, Yorick. It is evident that Yorick meant a lot to Hamlet. The author states that Yorick was a teacher and describes the way Hamlet recalls all of his traits and expressions. Symbolically, that line could represent Hamlet burying the dreams of his childhood (see note to stanza III). Hamlet realizes then that the only way to live is by following his conscience.
Again the author depicts the burden of memory (see the note to stanza XV and also the note to stanza XXI).
XXI. Right away, the author repeats the theme of the previous stanza. He buried his past and it decays in his head. Like a splinter in his mind, it will not let him rest for a second. His dreams begin to “fade” as if stars that have lost their warmth (this image is also repeated in the next stanza).
Hamlet sees a funeral procession and soon realizes that Ophelia, his love, is being buried. Hamlet is hurt by his sight. She was the only person who he has ever truly loved and her death puts him in a state of shock (see note to stanza IV).
Lines twelve and thirteen show the impact that power can have on another man. Even Laetres, a noble young man, is easily manipulated by Claudius. Hamlet was the only person who was able to stand up to the crown and challenge the king.
XXII. Words can often lead to one’s death. This idea has been proven twice in the play. Both, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, were killed because Hamlet changed the words in the commission written by the king. Laetres and Hamlet will also die as a result of a heated argument. Their only will was to defend their honor, neither one truly felt hate toward the opponent. Even though, Laetres challenged Hamlet to the match, he was driven by the king, not necessarily by his emotions.
The “magic spell” is the poison that Laetres had on the end of his sword. As the fighters exchanged their swords in the match, both were cut and poisoned and thus both died.
The image of two fading stars is used to symbolize the deaths of Laetres and Hamlet (see also stanzas XXIV and I).
XXIII. Gertrude drinks the wine, which Claudius prepared to poison Hamlet in case he won the match and thus she dies. Line five of the stanza suggests that perhaps King Hamlet was also murdered by poisoning. Hamlet, out of his last strength rises and kills Claudus and thus the story resolves. Hamlet who stood against killing and injustice found no other way to get his revenge and was forced to go against his beliefs to serve the will of his father (see note to stanza IX).
The author uses the quote from stanza eight to finish off the story with a moral. He asks the ultimate question that bothered Hamlet, “is it better to close your eyes on everything that you might not want to see or to stand up and do something about it, and by doing so sacrifice your dreams?” There will always be those who will choose to live righteously and there will always be those who “must sleep.”
XXIV. Thus, the story ends. The author goes on to talk about Hamlet’s achievements.
The image of a fading star is once again used in this poem (see also note to stanzas XXII and I). This gives the poem a circular structure, where the story ends with the same image as it began. The stars can represent more than one object. First of all and most obvious, stars can represent dreams which drive us forth. Hamlet had a dream, but his star faded before he was able to achieve it. Secondly, the star could represent Hamlet himself, a hero who sacrifices his life for virtue (see note to stanza II).
XXV. Lines three through five of this stanza are repeated from stanza XIV, but this time there’s a implication that the first play never ends. The story of Hamlet still continues today, we live by his example and carry his weight on our shoulders. The ultimate question is left unanswered for the readers to examine.