A monologue from Act I, Scene iii

by: William Shakespeare

NOTE: Hamlet was first published in 1603. It is now a public domain work and may be performed without royalties.

POLONIUS: Yet here, Laertes? Aboard, aboard, for shame!
The wind sits in the shoulder of your sail,
And you are stayed for. There -- my blessing with thee,
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character [1]. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage [2]. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that th' opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure [3], but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit [4] as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief [5] in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulleth edge of husbandry [6].
This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season [7] this in thee!

1 engrave; inscribe

2 youthful person, idea, practice, etc...

3 criticism; judgment

4 clothing

5 distinguished

6 thriftiness

7 ripen; make fruitful

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