Hamlet and his Father's Ghost:
drawing / book
'Hamlet and his Father's Ghost', illustration to 'Hamlet' I, formerly in an extra-illustrated second folio edition of Shakespeare (1632); the ghost in armour, standing at left in the moonlight, Hamlet on his knees at r. 1806 Pen and grey ink, and grey wash, with watercolour
This from 'William Blake' by Irene Langridge
During 1806 Blake was moved to make some designs to Shakespeare which were neither commissioned nor engraved. Judging from the one reproduced in the Life,—“Hamlet and the Ghost of his Father,”—they must have been wild and powerful indeed. He had always a profound reverence for, and joy in, Shakespeare, whose works were among his favourite books.
A strange and characteristic collection were those books which fed his fiery imagination. Could we have glanced along the row, we should have seen Shakespeare[Pg 38] cheek by jowl with Lavater and Jacob Boehmen, while Macpherson’s “Ossian,” Chatterton’s “Rowley,” and the “Visions” of Emmanuel Swedenborg helped to fill in the ranks. Milton held perhaps the most honoured place of all, while Ovid, St. Theresa’s works, and De la Motte Fouqué’s “Sintram” were among the heterogeneous collection. Chaucer was also cheerfully conspicuous, and, towards the close of Blake’s life, Dante’s “Divine Comedy” came to join the silent company in the bookshelves.
A Blake Dictionary has a lot of material about Blake and Shakespeare, especially pp 369-70.
Taken from Act I, Scene 5 of Hamlet
Elsinore. The Castle. Another part of the fortifications.
Enter Ghost and Hamlet.
Hamlet. Whither wilt thou lead me? Speak! I'll go no further.
Father's Ghost. Mark me.
Hamlet. I will.735
Father's Ghost. My hour is almost come,
When I to sulph'rous and tormenting flames
Must render up myself.
Hamlet. Alas, poor ghost!
Father's Ghost. Pity me not, but lend thy serious hearing 740
To what I shall unfold.
Hamlet. Speak. I am bound to hear.
Father's Ghost. So art thou to revenge, when thou shalt hear.
Father's Ghost. I am thy father's spirit, 745
Doom'd for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purg'd away. list!
If thou didst ever thy dear father love-
Hamlet. O God!760
Father's Ghost. Revenge his foul and most unnatural murther.
Father's Ghost. Murther most foul, as in the best it is;
But this most foul, strange, and unnatural.
-----. Now, Hamlet, hear.
'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me. So the whole ear of Denmark
Is by a forged process of my death
Rankly abus'd. But know, thou noble youth, 775
The serpent that did sting thy father's life
Now wears his crown.
Hamlet. O my prophetic soul!
Father's Ghost. Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast,
But soft! methinks I scent the morning air.
Brief let me be. Sleeping within my orchard,
My custom always of the afternoon,
Upon my secure hour thy uncle stole,
With juice of cursed hebona in a vial, 800
And in the porches of my ears did pour
The leperous distilment; whose effect
Holds such an enmity with blood of man
That swift as quicksilver it courses through
The natural gates and alleys of the body,----
Thus was I, sleeping, by a brother's hand
Of life, of crown, of queen, at once dispatch'd;
Cut off even in the blossoms of my sin,
Unhous'led, disappointed, unanel'd, 815
No reckoning made, but sent to my account
With all my imperfections on my head.
Hamlet. O, horrible! O, horrible! most horrible!
Father's Ghost. If thou hast nature in thee, bear it not.
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be 820
A couch for luxury and damned incest.
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!
My tables! Meet it is I set it down 845
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I am sure it may be so in Denmark. [Writes.]
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word:
It is 'Adieu, adieu! Remember me.'
I have sworn't.850
-------- more circumstance at all,
I hold it fit that we shake hands and part;
You, as your business and desires shall point you, 875
For every man hath business and desire,
Such as it is; and for my own poor part,
Look you, I'll go pray.
Come hither, gentlemen, 910
And lay your hands again upon my sword.
Never to speak of this that you have heard:
Nay, come, let's go together.945