March 09, 2010

How absolute the knave is!

Goat Rope is still climbing Mount Hamlet, although we're nearing the summit. If you don't care for Shakespeare, you can scroll down to the links and comments section--although if you do, you'll be missing the graveyard scene.

As I mentioned yesterday, the gravedigger is the only person in the play who can hold his own against Hamlet. In their first exchange, Hamlet asks a simple question:

HAMLET: ...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!

Hamlet, just back from his pirate adventure, has no idea that the grave will be Ophelia's. They banter some more before that becomes clear. It turns out that the gravedigger has had the same job since the day Old Hamlet slew the king of Norway and young Hamlet was born. He even knows about Hamlet's madness and trip to England, although he doesn't realize who he's talking to.

Playing along, Hamlet asks about reports of himself:

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 is usually untouchable in verbal sparring, but he can't score a point on this guy.

HEALTHY AND HAPPY. Here's an interview with Richard Wilkinson, co-author of The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better.

WHO'S POOR THESE DAYS? Lots of people.

DEFICITS aren't the main problem right now, according to economist James Galbraith.



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