Polonius’s Speech, Hamlet – William Shakespeare

Polonus

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.

Notes

You’re still here? Shame on you—get on board! The wind is filling your ship’s sail, and they’re waiting for you. Here, I give you my blessing again. And just try to remember a few rules of life.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

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 comrade.

Notes

Be friendly to people but don’t overdo it. Once you’ve tested out your friends and found them trustworthy, hold onto them. But don’t waste your time shaking hands with every new guy you meet.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

Beware of entrance to a quarrel, but being in,
Bear ’t that th’ opposèd may beware of thee.

Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.
Take each man’s censure but reserve thy judgment.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

Costly thy habit 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 in that.

Meaning

Questions & Answers

Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

Meaning

  • Neither a borrower nor a lender be
  • For loan oft loses both itself and friend
  • And borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry.

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.

Meaning

  • 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 this in thee.

Questions & Answers

  1. How far are Polonius’ advice relevant today?
  2. Don’t say what you’re thinking, and don’t be too quick to act on what you think.
  3. Don’t be quick to pick a fight, but once you’re in one, hold your own.
  4. Listen to many people, but talk to few. Hear everyone’s opinion, but reserve your judgment.
  5. Spend all you can afford on clothes, but make sure they’re quality, not flashy, since clothes make the man—which is doubly true in France.
  6. Don’t borrow money and don’t lend it, since when you lend to a friend, you often lose the friendship as well as the money, and borrowing turns a person into a spendthrift.
  7. And, above all, be true to yourself. Then you won’t be false to anybody else. Good-bye, son. I hope my blessing will help you absorb what I’ve said.

Biju John is an educational writer, educator and the author of OM - The Otherwise Men. He gives live classes on Skype and Facebook. You can attend his 3 Day Classes (English & Business Studies) in Delhi, Bangalore, Qatar and Dubai. His Contact number is 91 9810740061.

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