Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

HAMLET

At supper.

HAMLET

At dinner.

CLAUDIUS

20At supper where?

CLAUDIUS

At dinner where?

HAMLET

Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A certain convocation of politic worms are e'en at him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is but variable service—two dishes, but to one table. That’s the end.

HAMLET

Not where he’s eating, but where he’s being eaten. A certain

conference of worms

Hamlet is punning on a famous event in European history, the Diet of Worms, which was a gathering convened by the Holy Roman Emperor in 1521.

conference of worms
is chowing down on him. Worms are the emperor of all diets. We fatten up all creatures to feed ourselves, and we fatten ourselves for the worms to eat when we’re dead. A fat king and a skinny beggar are just two dishes at the same meal. That’s all I have to say.

CLAUDIUS

Alas, alas!

CLAUDIUS

Oh no, oh no!

HAMLET

A man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm.

HAMLET

A man can fish with the worm that ate a king, and then eat the fish he catches with that worm.

CLAUDIUS

30What dost you mean by this?

CLAUDIUS

What do you mean by that?

HAMLET

Nothing but to show you how a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar.

HAMLET

Nothing much, just to demonstrate that a king can move through the bowels of a beggar.

CLAUDIUS

Where is Polonius?

CLAUDIUS

Where is Polonius?

HAMLET

In heaven. Send hither to see. If your messenger find him not there, seek him i' th' other place yourself. But if indeed you find him not within this month, you shall nose him as you go up the stairs into the lobby.

HAMLET

In heaven. Send a messager there if you want to be sure. If your messenger can’t find him, you can check hell yourself. But seriously, if you don’t find him within the next month, you’ll be sure to smell him as you go upstairs into the main hall.

CLAUDIUS

(to attendants) Go seek him there.

CLAUDIUS

(to attendants) Go look for him there.
Exeunt some attendants
Some attendants exit.

HAMLET

He will stay till ye come.

HAMLET

No need to hurry, he’s not going anywhere.