NaPoWriMo Day 13

Today’s challenge was slightly different: it referenced ‘The Found Poetry Review’ and looked at collaging poems from existing language – a technique T S Eliot used to great effect in ‘The Wasteland’. The optional prompt was to “write a non apology for the things you’ve stolen”, but I took it in a slightly different direction, going back to Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ and referencing three pieces of advice Polonius (the king’s advisor) gives his son Laertes as he prepares to send him off to university – perhaps the most well known line from this speech is the phrase “Neither a borrower nor a lender be”. I chose to write an internal monologue for Polonius’s daughter, Ophelia, beginning by having her reflect on her father’s words as she thinks about how badly Hamlet has treated her. The second part of the poem shows Ophelia’s descent into madness as she begins to speak almost entirely in other people’s words (or her own words – borrowed from the play); and the third part deals with her death, and borrows words from poems.

If you want to be really geeky about this, see if you can identify the plays and poems I’ve borrowed from!

Ophelia’s Lament


“Neither a borrower nor a lender be,” you told my

brother, and ‘twas good advice I heeded well

myself: I did not lend Lord Hamlet mine own heart

nor borrow his – i’ faith, I gave it freely in exchange

for tender words and kisses, promises

that swore he would be mine and lov’d me more

than any other maid.

“To thine ownself be true” – ay, so I have:

‘twas Hamlet played me false with cruel words

and exhortations that I get me hence –

“a nunnery,” forsooth! is what he said –

ah, he hath played me false indeed

and stol’n the foolish heart I offered up

and broken it.

And now bedecked with madness in my grief,

I gather flowers to strew my marriage bed;

and Death, my bridegroom, waits with greedy hands

to twine the garland round about my head

and kiss away the life my heart once had

when I was lov’d.


There’s rosemary – that’s for remembrance –

I’m larded with sweet flowers.

He is dead and gone, lady:

my Hamlet’s dead and gone.

There is pansies – that’s for thoughts.

When I am gone, think only this of me:

I’m one who loved not wisely but too well.

Hamlet’s ghost now walks abroad –

a hard-hearted adamant in human form.

I love thee not, therefore pursue me not!


Full fathom five my father lies:

Hamlet stole his life with one sharp thrust.

“A rat! A rat!”

I flit; I fly; I float.

The curse has come upon me!

It is the closing of the day;

Now I lay me down to sleep.

I float.

“Thou canst not then be false to any man.”

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