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Page 21

In Hamlet the poem returns us to blankness,
much ado ending in "The rest is silence,"
followed by Horatio's "Why does the drum
come hither" (Recruiters and rock stars use drums
because of their "come-hither" appeal) and
Fortinbras enters with drums and trumpets
(distant cannon fire too). Some silence!

Poor Horatio. (Something has been rotten
in Denmark, which has markedly increased
the whore ratio. Enough puns. Puns, get thee
to a none-airy.)

And yet it is -- all that clangor --
a kind of silence, a relief from self-agonizing
sophistries and rich language, these having
precipitated a fine crystalline concentrate
of action, quick and furious, then
a looming up on all sides, like shadow
rising on stone walls as the sun falls
below the windows, darkness softening
the flung shapes of dead and dying
and grieving; one voice, quiet, a little
hurried, but calm, having found the readiness
that is all, now content with the growing silence

that may as well be, after all,
full of cannon thunder, drums, trumpets,
(tiny tinny noises now almost lost
in growing darkness or light)

and men strong in arms -- Fortinbras
means that, though also strong in brass,
you strumpet trumpets, blowing as hard
for smiling assassins and foreign conquerors
as for the true king, the one true thing
that blankness (we like to think,
especially we who think each blank page
must have just THESE words, no other)
requires of us.

Note: Yet more Hamlet. In my edition, Hamlet's "The rest is silent" is followed immediately by Horatio's question and a stage direction: "Enter Fortinbras with drums and trumpets". (Fortinbras is the invading king of Norway.) Earlier, when Hamlet tells Ophelia "Get thee to a nunnery," his words are cruel, since nunnery then had a second meaning,, "whorehouse". When I direct the puns to a none-airy, THAT pun is meant to suggest a domain of blankness (none), and fresh (airy, not stale) with its nothingness. (Though puns, too, have been called mere nothings. And I suppose anything a mirror can reflect is a mirror nothing.) (Perhaps, "Get thee to a punnery" is more appropriate.) I think the key words in Hamlet are "The readiness is all", expressed even more pungently in King Lear: "The ripeness is all." Some, relishing a spring morning, would have it that the allness is ripe.

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