Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

GRAVEDIGGER

Faith, if he be not rotten before he die—as we have many pocky corses nowadays that will scarce hold the laying in— he will last you some eight year or nine year. A tanner will last you nine year.

GRAVEDIGGER

Well, if he’s not rotten before he dies (and there are a lot of people now who are so rotten they start falling to pieces even before you put them in the coffin), he’ll last eight or nine years. A leathermaker will last nine years.

HAMLET

Why he more than another?

HAMLET

Why does he last longer?

GRAVEDIGGER

Why, sir, his hide is so tanned with his trade that he will keep out water a great while, and your water is a sore decayer of your whoreson dead body. (indicates a skull) Here’s a skull now. This skull has lain in the earth three-and-twenty years.

GRAVEDIGGER

Because his hide is so leathery from his trade that he keeps the water off him a long time, and water is what makes your goddamn body rot more than anything. Here’s a skull that’s been here twenty-three years.

HAMLET

Whose was it?

HAMLET

Whose was it?

GRAVEDIGGER

A whoreson mad fellow’s it was. Whose do you think it was?

GRAVEDIGGER

A crazy bastard. Who do you think?

HAMLET

Nay, I know not.

HAMLET

I really don’t know.

GRAVEDIGGER

155A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! He poured a flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull, sir, was Yorick’s skull, the king’s jester.

GRAVEDIGGER

Damn that crazy madman! He poured a pitcher of white wine on my head once. This is the skull of Yorick, the king’s jester.

HAMLET

This?

HAMLET

This one?

GRAVEDIGGER

E'en that.

GRAVEDIGGER

Yes, that one.

HAMLET

Let me see. (takes the skull) Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. —Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady’s chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that.—Prithee, Horatio, tell me one thing.

HAMLET

Let me see. (he takes the skull) Oh, poor Yorick! I used to know him, Horatio—a very funny guy, and with an excellent imagination. He carried me on his back a thousand times, and now—how terrible—this is him. It makes my stomach turn. I don’t know how many times I kissed the lips that used to be right here. Where are your jokes now? Your pranks? Your songs?
Your flashes of wit that used to set the whole table laughing? You don’t make anybody smile now. Are you sad about that? You need to go to my lady’s room and tell her that no matter how much makeup she slathers on, she’ll end up just like you some day. That’ll make her laugh. Horatio, tell me something.