Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Magpie 44


This week’s prompt of a sled immediately brought to mind a strange, curious passage in the play “Hamlet.”
Hamlet’s dad, the late King, is of course dead as the play begins. However, he has returned as a ghost to encourage his son to seek vengeance for his murder.
Problem is, young Hamlet, who has not as yet seen the spirit, can’t be sure that the phantom is really his late father.
His friend Horatio, however, has seen it, and is convinced it is the ghost of the late King. He was on the guard-platform of the castle when it appeared.
Sentinel: “Is it not like the King?”
Horatio: “As thou art to thyself. Such was the very armor he had on when he the ambitious King of Norway combated.”

Horatio: “And so frowned he once when in an angry parley he smote the sledded Polacks on the ice.”
According to the text, the late King had been in various battles – more or less something to be expected from a king – and was involved in a fracas with some Polish guys who were on a sled. The Elizabethans used what for us today is a politically incorrect term, “Polacks,” for Polish people, but it was the 16th century and they knew no better. :-)
In other words, the way the old King had looked during this battle on the ice, this skirmish on sleds, is exactly how he looked when he showed up at the castle as a spirit. So the ghost must be legit.

Whether he is an authentic phantom or some evil spirit just pretending to be the late King is a key problem, which Hamlet spends a lot of time trying to figure out.

32 comments:

cosmos cami said...

I enjoyed your thoughts. Fun images as well.

Pearl said...

We still call them Polacks in Minnesota.

:-)

Which, of course, is wrong.

Pearl

kathew said...

I wondered how you would work sleds into Shakespeare...hah! Too clever for me-Hamlet and sleds?

Helen said...

'skirmish on sleds' .... I love your Shakespeare Magpies.

Lyn said...

Who else but you could come up with this...methinks you've got the whole play committed to memory...bravo!

Jinksy said...

"parley"...
Oh, yes, I'm all for that! Wonderful word...

Berowne said...

cosmos cami: "I enjoyed your thoughts."
And I your comment.

Berowne said...

Pearl: "We still call them Polacks in Minnesota."
Ah well, Minnesota. What can one expect?
(Jes' kiddin')

Berowne said...

Jinksy: "'parley,' I'm all for that! Wonderful word."
Even when it involves smiting someone? :-)

Kristen Haskell said...

I love your Shakespeare posts too! You really have a way of dissecting it beautifully and all from a photo.

Reflections said...

Hamlet meets the downhill... I'm impressed!

jinksy said...

As long as its 'smiting with words' !!

Tess Kincaid said...

Oh, gosh, YES!! Thank you. I needed this. I was suffering sorely from Shakespeare withdrawal.

gautami tripathy said...

I am awed! You did good!

who hid that story for us to find

Elizabeth said...

You are so clever, Berowne.
I looked at that picture and I couldn't even work out that it was a sledge (don't tell, but I'd perversely figured out it was some kind of cross-bow - time for an eye-test, I think)!!

The drinks are on me - you deserve one for your powers of visual aptitude and reasoned application.x

chiccoreal said...

Dear Berowne: The haunting image on the ice of the Danish king must have been terrifying. I think Archie Bunker pobpularized the slight with his son-in-law because the term is the name of a trucking company here(in Canada). No biggy! How I adore your apt comparison, and the sledding scene. Now that would be difficult to stage!

Berowne said...

Tess K.: "I was suffering sorely from Shakespeare withdrawal."
We can't let that happen. :-)

Berowne said...

Elizabeeth: "The drinks are on me."
I look forward to our rendezvous -- in cyberspace.

hedgewitch said...

Fascinating factoid from the world of Shakespeariana.(I think I made that word up but you get my drift..) And what does it say about humans that they would waste perfectly good sleds and sledding weather fighting a stupid battle?

Tumblewords: said...

If it looks like a ghost, walks like a ghost, then surely it must be the dead king. It could be no other. :)

kaykuala said...

'Hark, Apparitions' did I see it somewhere? Not Hamlet, I don't think! Brought back good memories on English Literature just the same!

Berowne said...

My thanks to Kristen H., Reflections, gautami t., chiccoreal, hedgewitch, Tumblewords and kaykuala for your friendly comments.

C Hummel Kornell a/k/a C Hummel Wilson said...

Only YOU! Wonderful connection. I, too, needed this one.

Berowne said...

Good to hear from you, C Hummel -- thanks

Joan Tucker said...

Mais où sont les neiges d'antan!
Oh, where are the snows of yesteryear!

The romance of snow is not here in WA State
but for the nostalgic and poetic there is always snow... Joan Tucker
awildpatience

Everyday Goddess said...

Fabulous connection, and I'm going with Tumblewords on this one.

Glad I stopped by, I always learn something interesting!

Berowne said...

Everyday G.: "Glad I stopped by..."
Glad you stopped by too, Everyday.

Lydia said...

Oh, that is a great tie-in. If, in high school, any of my English teachers had had your perfect knack for explaining Shakespeare I know I would have read beyond what was required. Pity, isn't it? I thank you so much for the spark.

Pat said...

It is such a powerful play - not least when poor Daniel Day Lewis, whilst playing Hamlet, imagined the ghost was his own dead father and left the stage never to return. Happily he is still acting in films

Berowne said...

My thanks to Lydia and Pat for their friendly comments.

The Hausfrau said...

What a fascinating connection--strange and curious, indeed! I enjoyed this.

girldaydreaming said...

like many, i love hamlet (the play:), so cool to have a fresh insight. nice...

 
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