by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

Enter LAERTES and OPHELIA, his sister
LAERTES and his sister OPHELIA enter.
My necessaries are embarked. Farewell.
And, sister, as the winds give benefit
And convey is assistant, do not sleep,
But let me hear from you.
My belongings are on the ship already. Good-bye. And, my dear sister, as long as the winds are blowing and ships are sailing, let me hear from you—write.
    Do you doubt that?
Do you doubt I’ll write?
5For Hamlet and the trifling of his favor,
Hold it a fashion and a toy in blood,
A violet in the youth of primy nature,
Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,
The perfume and suppliance of a minute.
10No more.
As for Hamlet and his attentions to you, just consider it a big flirtation, the temporary phase of a hot-blooded youth. It won’t last. It’s sweet, but his affection will fade after a minute. Not a second more.
  No more but so?
No more than a minute?
    Think it no more.
For nature, crescent, does not grow alone
In thews and bulk, but, as this temple waxes,
The inward service of the mind and soul
Grows wide withal. Perhaps he loves you now,
15And now no soil nor cautel doth besmirch
The virtue of his will, but you must fear.
His greatness weighed, his will is not his own,
For he himself is subject to his birth.
He may not, as unvalued persons do,
20Carve for himself, for on his choice depends
The safety and health of this whole state.
And therefore must his choice be circumscribed
Unto the voice and yielding of that body
Whereof he is the head. Then if he says he loves you,
Try to think of it like that, anyway. When a youth grows into a man, he doesn’t just get bigger in his body—his responsibilities grow too. He may love you now, and may have only the best intentions, but you have to be on your guard. Remember that he belongs to the royal family, and his intentions don’t matter that much—he’s a slave to his family obligations. He can’t simply make personal choices for himself the way common people can, since the whole country depends on what he does. His choice has to agree with what the nation wants.