Alas Poor Yorick…
HAMLET They are sheep and calves which seek out assurance
in that. I will speak to this fellow. Whose
grave's this, sirrah?
First Clown Mine, sir.
O, a pit of clay for to be made
For such a guest is meet.
HAMLET I think it be thine, indeed; for thou liest in't.
First Clown You lie out on't, sir, and therefore it is not
yours: for my part, I do not lie in't, and yet it is mine.
HAMLET 'Thou dost lie in't, to be in't and say it is thine:
'tis for the dead, not for the quick; therefore thou liest.
First Clown 'Tis a quick lie, sir; 'twill away gain, from me to
HAMLET What man dost thou dig it for?
First Clown For no man, sir.
HAMLET What woman, then?
First Clown For none, neither.
HAMLET Who is to be buried in't?
First Clown One that was a woman, sir; but, rest her soul, she's dead.
HAMLET How absolute the knave is! we must speak by the
card, or equivocation will undo us. By the Lord,
Horatio, these three years I have taken a note of
it; the age is grown so picked that the toe of the
peasant comes so near the heel of the courtier, he
gaffs his kibe. How long hast thou been a
First Clown Of all the days i' the year, I came to't that day
that our last king Hamlet overcame Fortinbras.
HAMLET How long is that since?
First Clown Cannot you tell that? every fool can tell that: it
was the very day that young Hamlet was born; he that
is mad, and sent into England.
HAMLET Ay, marry, why was he sent into England?
First Clown Why, because he was mad: he shall recover his wits
there; or, if he do not, it's no great matter there.
First Clown 'Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men
are as mad as he.
HAMLET How came he mad?
First Clown Very strangely, they say.
HAMLET How strangely?
First Clown Faith, e'en with losing his wits.
HAMLET Upon what ground?
First Clown Why, here in Denmark: I have been sexton here, man
and boy, thirty years.
HAMLET How long will a man lie i' the earth ere he rot?
First Clown I' faith, if he be not rotten before he die--as we
have many pocky corses now-a-days, that will scarce
hold the laying in--he will last you some eight year
or nine year: a tanner will last you nine year.
HAMLET Why he more than another?
First Clown 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.
Here's a skull now; this skull has lain in the earth
three and twenty years.
HAMLET Whose was it?
First Clown A whoreson mad fellow's it was: whose do you think it was?
HAMLET Nay, I know not.
First Clown A pestilence on him for a mad rogue! a' poured a
flagon of Rhenish on my head once. This same skull,
sir, was Yorick's skull, the king's jester.
First Clown E'en that.
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 rims 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 chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that. Prithee, Horatio, tell
me one thing.
HORATIO What's that, my lord?
HAMLET Dost thou think Alexander looked o' this fashion i'
HORATIO E'en so.
HAMLET And smelt so? pah!
[Puts down the skull]
HORATIO E'en so, my lord.
HAMLET To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may
not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
till he find it stopping a bung-hole?
HORATIO 'Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.
HAMLET No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with
modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside: here comes the king.