And then there was Hamlet,
correct when he was wrong,
wrong when he was correct
and slipping beyond his decisions:
I surrender, therefore I am—
that’s the rub of it.

This is the third—and with a sigh of relief, you say—last of three poems in my “Keep on thinking” series inspired by contemplation of the famous, “I think, therefore I am.” philosophical postulate. The first poem in the series is Philosophy, and the second poem in the series is Overrated.

The poem refers to the most famous of William Shakespeare’s soliloquies, the opening of  Act 3 scene 1 in Hamlet, the lines of which are said by the main character as he enters the stage:

To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub…

It is, of course, sheer hubris to link to anything written by Shakespeare, let alone perhaps one of his best works, but if one is going to be utterly rude and hitch one’s wagon to a star, make it a bright star, say I!

Thank you so much for reading Hamlet. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem, either alone or with the notes that accompany it, may be printed and distributed—in part or amalgamated with other works—as long as the copyright notice and the address, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com, are also clearly printed with it and there is no fee charged.


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4 responses to “Hamlet

  1. Pingback: Overrated | the Book of Pain

  2. Pingback: Philosophy | the Book of Pain

  3. A really interesting post, John. It is your triumph that I read both your poem and the Shakespeare twice, slowing myself down (having just drunk coffee) to consider the words more carefully. I will also look up your recommended tv story. Thank you.

    • Thank you, dear! Funny enough, I had not realized that I had written 3 separate poems on the Descartes quote until I was trying to apply some sort of organization to my poems. As to Shakespeare, that happens to be a particular passion of mine too, although in rural Connecticut not an easy one to pursue, at least live. You’ll love “Slings and Arrows.” Another great, off the wall, take on Shakespeare is The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged by The Reduced Shakespeare Company…a very bent and funny re-cap of everything he wrote in one hilarious evening. The Old Dude is not so perfect that a little humorous take on his work cannot be good.