by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

I like him not, nor stands it safe with us
To let his madness range. Therefore prepare you.
I your commission will forthwith dispatch,
And he to England shall along with you.
5The terms of our estate may not endure
Hazard so dangerous as doth hourly grow
Out of his lunacies.
I don’t like the way he’s acting, and it’s not safe for me to let his insanity get out of control. So get prepared. I’m sending you to England on diplomatic business, and Hamlet will go with you. As king, I cannot risk the danger he represents as he grows crazier by the hour.
  We will ourselves provide.
Most holy and religious fear it is
To keep those many, many bodies safe
10That live and feed upon your majesty.
We’ll take care of it. It’s a sacred duty to protect the lives of all those who depend on Your Highness.
The single and peculiar life is bound
With all the strength and armor of the mind
To keep itself from noyance, but much more
That spirit upon whose weal depend and rest
15The lives of many. The cease of majesty
Dies not alone, but, like a gulf, doth draw
What’s near it with it. It is a massy wheel
Fixed on the summit of the highest mount,
To whose huge spokes ten thousand lesser things
20Are mortised and adjoined, which, when it falls,
Each small annexment, petty consequence,
Attends the boisterous ruin. Never alone
Did the king sigh, but with a general groan.
Everyone tries to avoid harm, but the public figure demands even more protection. When a great leader dies he doesn’t die alone but, like a whirlpool, draws others with him. He’s like a huge wheel on the top of the highest mountain whose spokes touch the rim of ten thousand smaller things—when it falls down the mountain, every little object goes down with it. Whenever a king sighs, everyone groans.
Arm you, I pray you, to this speedy voyage.
25For we will fetters put upon this fear,
Which now goes too free-footed.
Prepare yourself, please, for this trip. We’ll put a leash on this danger that’s now running wild.