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The Tragedy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet

Karl Constantine FOLKES 1935 (Portland)

Our tragic hero,
he, made of much sterner stuff,
by pride now fallen,
yet loved by many as hero,
and by God as his own child.

A Prince of Denmark,
by all accounts, a hero,
so loved by Ophelia;
and a man of noble birth…
both destined for tragedy.

He of bold stature,
made of royal heritage,
promised a kingdom;
blessed with magnified image,
and yet still of mortal flesh.

Of flesh and spirit.
Imaged by God’s own design,
by God’s intentions…
to serve him as his subject;
Him above all other selves.

Made in the image
and in the likeness of God,
is without question.
We are uniquely designed
by God’s will and desire.

So, to be, or not to be,
is never the question.
That is God’s own choice.
Our choice, by our own free will,
is to choose what we become.

My fellow Shakespeare,
eminent Bard of Avon,
if I may impose…
Your craft is your BECOMING.
Your BEING — God’s handiwork.

The question of BEING
should not be one that we ask.
That’s God’s prerogative.
Ours is not to question why.
Ours is to seek to BECOME.

God’s fixed handiwork
makes him the divine potter
of every Being
left to its own Becoming;
and there is no exception.

Your own craft, Shakespeare,
is testimony of that;
of your Becoming.
Your attested oeuvre d’art
is signature of that fact.

Daoist posture
is the art of becoming;
a dynamic force
of Yin and Yang in balance;
the ‘passive’ and the ‘active.’

Healthy and grounded
should be our optimal goal,
in flesh and spirit.
Thus, the art of becoming
is balance and harmony.

Hamlet’s tragedy,
despite his deep school learning,
his innate wisdom,
was brought on by his vengeance
that destroyed his good judgment.

By faulty judgment,
by stubborn foolhardiness,
he lost his balance;
and thereby hangs the sad tale
that would lead to his demise.

His father’s murder
troubled him to his deep core;
turned him upside down,
led him to bouts of madness;
his intellect questioned.

His bitter ailment
was that he lost his grounding,
based in his psyche;
his collective unconscious…
Source of his divine healing.

And so he wavered,
untrusting of all his friends,
his own core of being;
denying life meaning.
Death must be the solution.

His being was God’s,
‘though he understood it not;
and thus he suffered…
a prey of his ignorance.
Vanity of vanities!

Judgment would be his;
to take life or preserve it.
He would be server
to execute all justice.
No ‘Higher Court’ was needed.

In this mental state,
our hero is yet thoughtful;
and thus hesitant
whether he should seek revenge.
He has a voice of conscience.

His soliloquy
causes him much reflection
about his image…
made in the likeness of God;
and about the thereafter.

Hamlet’s mortal fear:
‘The undiscover’d country.’
The fear of one’s death…
where ‘no traveller returns;’
where conscience makes one coward.

Solomon, The Wise,
in the Book of Qoheleth,
wrote with eloquence:
In the end, what matters most,
is to serve God above all.

Woe man of weakness:
Pompous in his own glory,
to shine with brightness,
just for a short while;
by misdeeds to be impaled.

Hamlet, we mourn you.
A man of such promises,
with such dignity.
A leader among leaders;
only to fall and suffer.

In mourning your death,
your focus was miscarried.
O, what irony.
Poisoned more by arrogance,
Than by the blade of a sword.

In this tragedy,
death is the great leveler;
the equalizer.
Finding all to be guilty,
as this play comes to an end.

We are all Hamlets,
whether princes or paupers.
All have missed the mark.
We focus on our Being,
instead of our Becoming.

The life of Being
and the life of Becoming
is a partnership
between flesh and the spirit.
And God will be our Master.

We, too, have so strayed.
Our tragedy is pretense
that we are better;
free of any mortal crimes.
In this, we deceive ourselves.

O, most noble Prince.
O, Hamlet Prince of Denmark.
We mourn your sad death;
and of your companions.
Your friends and your foes alike.

We grieve in sadness.
Parting is such sweet sorrow.
We bid you farewell,
‘til again it be ‘morrow;
‘til we return to wholeness.

About this poem

A tragic hero, a man of moral ambiguity; of moral turpitude. A man of existential dilemma wavering between thought and action. Hamlet, a Prince at heart, an emotional pauper by nature; a sincere man at his innermost being; a man of many complexities; a fellow human being. Hamlet, he is one of us. This is a confessional poem about the vanity of human nature and of human life, literally blowing in the wind. And yet this life, each life, all lives offer us multiple opportunities to seek and obtain our self-fulfillment. Indeed, the task of self-fulfillment is a lifelong pursuit that analytical psychology describes as the goal of Individuation and which Christianity, along with other world religions and philosophies describe in various ways as the art of becoming; of becoming whole, sanctified, or transformed. The tragedy of Shakespeare’s protagonist Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, an enigmatic character that was laden with a conscience, yet full of doubt, lack of self-awareness, and the constant warring in his mind, was that he, in deep reflection and thoughtfulness, bemoaned his earthly fate of his being, instead of focusing on the more important goal of his becoming. Such a predicament of his was caused ironically by his faulty emotional decisions. This was largely determined by his own frailty and by the poor choices he made as a consequence, not discerning during bouts of madness, that he was by God’s dispensation, and not by his own desires, made in the image and likeness of God. Yet, ultimately by his own misjudgment, Hamlet failed to execute his God-given free will of making compassionate decisions, and therefore forfeited the invaluable opportunity to become what he truly might have become to achieve self-fulfillment: to be a man capable of making wise Godly choices. That was his flaw, his weakness, and also his tragedy. That, too, is often, the common human tragedy that leaves us all emotionally drained as fallen short of the glory of God. In Hamlet, we can introspectively see and examine ourselves. We ourselves too often ‘miss the mark’ to become whole and balanced. This unrhymed thirty-two stanza extended tanka poem is to be treated as a companion to an earlier written poem entitled “Our Choice Makes All the Difference.” 

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Written on February 13, 2023

Submitted by karlcfolkes on February 13, 2023

Modified by karlcfolkes on February 16, 2023

4:25 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic trimeter
Characters 4,108
Words 883
Stanzas 32
Stanza Lengths 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1995 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s “Dear Mili” Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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    "The Tragedy of Shakespeare’s Hamlet" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 4 Jun 2023. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/151572/the-tragedy-of-shakespeare’s-hamlet>.

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