Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

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. First he moves them around, then he swallows them. When he needs what you have found out, 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 follow, my lord.

HAMLET

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

HAMLET

I’m glad about that. Sly words are never understood by fools.

ROSENCRANTZ

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

ROSENCRANTZ

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

HAMLET

25The body is with the king, but the king is not with the body.
The king is a thing—

HAMLET

The body’s with the king, but the 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

A thing of no importance. Take me to him. Ready or not, here I come!
Exeunt
They exit.