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Sasha Lamb: Extended Shakespeare

Sasha Lamb, a 2008 Folger Fellow, expressed her own interpretation of the father-son relationships between young Hamlet and his father, and that of King Henry and Hal.  She created two soliloquies, written in iambic pentameter, where young Hamlet and Henry disclose their feelings about their fathers:




Act I, scene ii: The Sum of Naught

[Enter Hal and one of the courtiers from I.i, from opposite directions.]


Courtier: What chance we meet, my lord, on beaten streets

            And not in court, where both of us reside.

            ’Tis near six weeks, in faith, since I have seen

            Your noble face. ’Tis little wonder that

            The king your esteem’d father thinks of naught

            But Percy younger’s valiant deeds — my lord.





Hal:    So ’tis that peacock stain’d with death’s bright hue

            Who so enthralls my kingly father’s mind.

            I knew his thoughts fell elsewhere as of late;

            I need not see his figure to divine’t.

            I win no friendship with my father while

            I spend my time with subjects of the realm.

            And Harry Percy — Hotspur, he is called,

            By those who’ve seen nor hot nor spur of him —

            Percy, with his thick tongue and notchéd sword.

            So said, the brighter Harry of us two;

            His armor glints and dazzles eyes and mind.

            A mound of bodies gains my father’s love!

            What honour in that corpse-strewn battle field

            Where noble Hotspur’s fights attract king’s eyes.

            Well, there remains yet time to prove myself;

            One day his flash and glamour will subside

            And I shall be the brighter for’t. The moon

            Lacks notice when the stars are in the sky.

            ‘Til then, all courtier’s clouded words are but

            The sum of naught. I know they never cared

            For me, not even when I tried to be

            My father’s perfect son; it hurts no more.

            I know the width of all love felt for me,

            And too the breadth of all who feel it.


[Enter Falstaff.]


What miracle is this? I did not know that the mountains moved!


Falstaff:  And I am surprised you don’t blow away on all your puffs of hot air. Now, Hal, what time of day is it, lad?





Act I, scene ii: Desperation


Horatio: I saw him once. He was a goodly king.


Hamlet: O, more than good, in truth, and truly less

            Than godly only by the smallest scrape.

            In youth, I look’d upon his armor’d form

            As War himself, and Justice, too, who would

            In battle shine from helm to greaves to toes.

            No fairer king, no better foe than he.

            He taught me much of sword when he return’d

            From wars and battles fought long but still won.

            ’Twas only he could keep me from my books,

            So rare were his returns when I was young.

            I still practice swords, as well you know—

            Our friends at school would say I spar too much.

            Yet practice though I may, I know that I

            Will ne’er be equal to his memory.

            I long to be my father’s worthy son,

            In swordplay and all else. Alas that he

            Is gone! No person in this court could e’er

            Replace that warlike form, much less surpass.

            I least of all deserve to be his heir,

            So occupied am I with books and thought.

            I would give much: my kingdom, wealth, or life,

            To hear my father tell me once more that

            He look’d on me with pride.

            He was a man. Take him for all in all,

            I shall not look upon his like again.


Horatio: My lord, I think I saw him yesternight.


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