by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

This the very coinage of your brain.
140This bodiless creation ecstasy
Is very cunning in.
This is only a figment of your imagination. Madness is good at creating hallucinations.
My pulse as yours doth temperately keep time
And makes as healthful music. It is not madness
That I have uttered. Bring me to the test,
145And I the matter will reword, which madness
Would gambol from. Mother, for love of grace,
Lay not that flattering unction to your soul
That not your trespass but my madness speaks.
It will but skin and film the ulcerous place
150Whilst rank corruption, mining all within,
Infects unseen. Confess yourself to heaven.
Repent what’s past. Avoid what is to come.
And do not spread the compost on the weeds
To make them ranker. Forgive me this my virtue,
155For in the fatness of these pursy times
Virtue itself of vice must pardon beg,
Yea, curb and woo for leave to do him good.
Madness? My heart beats just as evenly as yours does. There’s nothing crazy in what I’ve just uttered. Put me to the test. I’ll rephrase everything I’ve just said, which a lunatic couldn’t do. Mother, for the love of God, don’t flatter yourself into believing that it’s my madness, not your crime, that’s the problem. You’d just be concealing the rot that’s eating you from the inside. Confess your sins to heaven. Repent and avoid damnation. Don’t spread manure over the weeds in your heart; it’ll only make them more filthy. Forgive me my good intentions here since in these fat and spoiled times, virtuous people have to say, “Beg your pardon” to vile ones and beg for the chance to do any good.
O Hamlet, thou hast cleft my heart in twain.
Oh Hamlet, you’ve broken my heart in two!
Oh, throw away the worser part of it,
160And live the purer with the other half.
Good night—but go not to mine uncle’s bed.
Assume a virtue if you have it not.
That monster, custom, who all sense doth eat,
Of habits devil, is angel yet in this:
165That to the use of actions fair and good
He likewise gives a frock or livery
That aptly is put on. Refrain tonight,
And that shall lend a kind of easiness
To the next abstinence, the next more easy.
Then throw away the worse half, and live a purer life with the other! Good night to you. But don’t go to my uncle’s bed tonight. At least pretend to be virtuous, even if you’re not. Habit is a terrible thing, in that it’s easy to get used to doing evil without feeling bad about it. But it’s also a good thing, in that being good can also become a habit.
Say no to sex tonight, and that will make it easier to say no the next time, and still easier the time after that. Habit can change even one’s natural instincts, and either rein in the devil in us, or kick him out. Once again, good night to you, and when you want to repent, I’ll ask you for your blessing too. I’m sorry about what happened to this gentleman (pointing to POLONIUS), but