H A M L E T S T O R I E S

 

Paul Griffiths

 

Note: Each story is a reading of the First Folio text of Hamlet leaving out approximately 99.6% of the words. To put it another way, the words in each story appear in the same order they do in the play, but in the play, of course, they will probably be separated by a whole lot more words. For example, the first “the” in the First Folio Hamlet comes in the third line (Barnardo: “Long live the king”), but we then have to omit almost two hundred and fifty lines, thousands of words, before we find the next word we need for “A Prayer” (Laertes: “My dread lord”). The titles are made the same way.



 

Upon the Rock

 

There is now very little for me to do here but look out at the waves, the waves.

​I do not know how long I have been here.

​So much crab I have had – and others, creatures of the sea whose name I do not know.

​I had the time and the will, long ago, to go right to the top of the mountain for a look.

​Nothing. Nothing. Nothing but sea cries, and the green mountain, and the ocean wide, and me, the cast-away.

​In the sea our ship broke up. All the rest drowned. No-one else….

​So where have you come from?



 

Travel Note

  

Get away if you can this spring for a day or two to Denmark – it’s a wonderful time to visit! Stay at the Young Prince resort, which is on a secret promontory. From there it is possible to drive to most of the country. You have to see the town of Termagant and all the churches on the horse ring. Bands play there in the jade garden, so this is one of the hot spots. See as well the famous “Grave of Threats.” Everyone eats at Fat and Lean (variable service), but Danish people who know say that Guildenstern’s is the place to see and be seen. Back from the Blue Mountains? Fit in the Royal Play House, which has some wild shows.

 


 

A Prayer

 

The Lord is my father; I shall not come.

 

He must make me to look down on the green sea: he will lead me with his still fingers.

 

He may breathe into my soul: he may lead me in the way of rights for his own purpose.

 

Yea, if I walk with the Devil to question Death, I will fear no mischance: for you are with me; your voice and your music they confront me.

 

You lay a table for him with our present enemies: you anoint my heel with cold water; my hand o’erreaches.

 

It must be that age and years will follow with me until my death: for who comes to the house of the Lord for ever?

Paul Griffiths was a music critic for the New Yorker and then for the NY Times. His most recent novel, Mr. Beethoven, will be published later this year by New York Review Books.

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