by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

And then it started like a guilty thing
Upon a fearful summons. I have heard
The cock, that is the trumpet to the morn,
150Doth with his lofty and shrill-sounding throat
Awake the god of day, and, at his warning,
Whether in sea or fire, in earth or air,
Th' extravagant and erring spirit hies
To his confine, and of the truth herein
155This present object made probation.
And then it acted startled, like a guilty person caught by the law. I’ve heard that the rooster awakens the god of day with its trumpetlike crowing, and makes all wandering ghosts, wherever they are, hurry back to their hiding places. We’ve just seen proof of that.
It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour’s birth is celebrated,
The bird of dawning singeth all night long.
160And then, they say, no spirit dare stir abroad.
The nights are wholesome. Then no planets strike,
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallowed and so gracious is that time.
Yes, it faded away when the rooster crowed. Some people say that just before Christmas the rooster crows all night long, so that no ghost dares go wandering, and the night is safe. The planets have no sway over us, fairies' spells don’t work, and witches can’t bewitch us. That’s how holy that night is.
So have I heard and do in part believe it.
165But look, the morn, in russet mantle clad,
Walks o'er the dew of yon high eastward hill.
Break we our watch up, and by my advice,
Let us impart what we have seen tonight
Unto young Hamlet, for, upon my life,
170This spirit, dumb to us, will speak to him.
Do you consent we shall acquaint him with it,
As needful in our loves, fitting our duty?
Yes, I’ve heard the same thing and sort of believe it. But look, morning is breaking beyond that hill in the east, turning the sky red. Let’s interrupt our watch and go tell young Hamlet what we’ve seen tonight. I’m sure this ghost that’s so silent with us will speak to him. Don’t you agree that we owe it to him to tell him about this, out of duty and love?
Let’s do ’t, I pray, and I this morning know
Where we shall find him most conveniently.
Let’s do it. I know where we’ll find him this morning.
They exit.