THEY all want to play Hamlet./They have not exactly seen their fathers killed/Nor their mothers in a frame-up to kill,/Nor an Ophelia dying with a dust gagging the heart,/Not exactly the spinning circles of singing golden spiders,/Not exactly this have they got at nor the meaning of flowers—O flowers, /flowers slung by a dancing girl—in the saddest play the/inkfish, Shakespeare, ever wrote;/Yet they all want to play Hamlet because it is sad like all actors are sad/and to stand by an open grave with a joker’s skull in the hand and then to say/ over slow and say over slow wise, keen, beautiful words masking a heart/that’s breaking, breaking,/This is something that calls and calls to their blood./They are acting when they talk about it and they know it is acting to be/particular about it and yet: They all want to play Hamlet.
Our hearts are breaking, breaking, and we are sad like all writers are sad. Self-importance pops, fizzes away: a deflated balloon. Still, it's interesting to consider how our relationship to texts and the characters therein change over time--in concert with our own situations in life, our richening perspectives. Once I have children, will I identify more with the blustering Polonius or the aching, mistake-riddled Gertrude?