No. 8-9


Emily Nguyen   

 The Hamlet-Ophelia Letters

My dearest Hamlet,

You have escaped to England!  I am grateful.  Yet how is the weather there? 

I am dead.  Drowned, they say.  The public is free from the effect of my ranting.  Your Uncle lives, and I am cloistered.

This cloud that has taken us will never lift.   Matins, vespers-All of our days written in chalk so they can be easily erased.

I have not forgiven you for murdering my father.  But I forgive you for attempting to murder the intruding Uncle.  Can we speak?  Have we a common language?

Leaving Denmark, your prison, taking all but not taking me.  I commend you for it.

There was no other way.  Our paths are tangled.  So that if a tapestry were to be made of them, it would be all tuft and no point.

I return these gifts to you:  the poison, the arrow, and flight.  You gave me aught, you will say.

You used, you will say, the back of your blade in cutting me down.  There was no arrow.  Yet I find one in my path.

Godspeed it back to you, that it may absorb the poisons in the light.

Then the sun may shine on you once more, away from all I am and all I represent.

Yet I have reason to fear your memory.

As for our love, I have suspended all belief.

I have heard much of your excavations.

Yours,  Ophelia

Dear Ophelia,

England is a grave place.  But yes, I survive.  The ghost of your madness haunts me.  You chose it over love.  There are too many ambiguities in that phrase.  "Over"-on top of-you played the strumpet to love and left me without a partner.  Did Love pay you well?

I did not doubt you would bend to my will.  All hell has broken loose in my heart.  And yet to imagine you, prostitute before the Lord-it is too meek a picture, even for you.  Iíd paint you bolder.

There were many feints and parries before the final fall.  Have you forgotten them?  You do not speak of love:

          A blossom only the drowned can pluck,
          overlaid with another.

Let me know what rules you, and I will rule it out.

When will you be free?

I ask for form only.  When will your form be free?  But perhaps you already have the habits of a nun.

Suspended all belief, have you?  Madness grows where love is not.  Watch out for weeds!

Of poison:  I cannot even lace my shoe.  Much less, the arrow.  I will keep it, for it is



My dearest H,

There is something touching in your acceptance of the arrow.



Dear O,

The air is wounded.  We cannot help but partake in it.  The breath you catch is not far from the breath I catch.  You are, as it were, just on the other side of the hill.

From now on, it is all slipping and sliding, catching a branch along the way.

We fall, but we fall separately.

You have not forgiven you say.  I hurt you by accident.  Yet your hurt was deliberate.  In the very throes of love you cast it all away.   Honor above all.  What honor is there in that?  Honor serves.  It does not govern.  If Honor were King, it would be an Uncle not a father.  Love is the father.  And you have deceived him, given him your empty vow.

So hereís to you and your Uncle.

But dare I drink from such a cup?

Iíd sooner parry with someone elseís notion of grace.  (Perhaps your brother?)

I do, I do, I do do battle.  I am married with the fray.  Remain constant, and you will move me.



Dear, dear, H.

You worry yourself over nothing. 

And if I stay or move, it is not to move you, who move yourself to nothing.

As from us all semblance of relationship is gone, as we fall separately, we fall apart.

And in falling apart, we prove ourselves in love again.

So take this token from the slope of my affections:  he who falls the farthest, out of love may regain his stature.

And I am far gone. 


My dearest Ophelia,

Stature, or Statuary?  I am confused.  You build on nothing.
As for me, I am free of it.  I will have nothing to do with nothing.
My heart lends me credence in this.  The air is thin on the heights you claim.
You journey like an arrow, the point of which is lost on me.  For I am as far above you as the hawk the sparrow.  For me the air is thinner yet; I can scarcely breathe in this vacuum.
Do not think to kill what is already dead, or raise to new heights what has already risen from the funeral pyre.
Out of love for my dead father, your father is dead.  

Both of us have lost a father.  Mine to poison, yours to love.  And I do think love itself a kind of poison, on the lips of one so far away.  Mine to poison, yours to love.  Have we not in that a common bond?
With this needle to stitch a seam what need is there to seek another point?
Donít talk to me of love, but of compassion, and I will believe you.



Dearest Hamlet,

A common bond indeed that bars all correspondence.  For chains, or bars
 there is none other more effective than pity.

All the more pity, that it is what you crave.  Take this, then.



Dear Ophelia,

The greater the pity.  With that correspondence is indeed at an end.  For what corresponds with what, when all is united in one word?

Have we no other paths to take than the flight of all sense?-into the sphere of words, from which there is no escape?

Leave speaking, and act.

Kill my Uncle, and Honor, and come join me here.






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