(During the play Hamlet devised to torture his uncle’s conscience, the Player King who is playing Hamlet’s dead father is telling the Player Queen that her intentions will change when he is dead.)
But though we make the pledge we break the vow.
Our good intentions need a strong resolve:
Though sincere at first, they soon dissolve.
Like unripe fruit, they’re firm upon the tree
Until they mellow. Then they fall quite free.
Inevitably, we all soon forget
To pay ourselves what is a self-owed debt;
We lose our purpose when the blood’s not hot.
Both grief and joy, when felt in great excess,
Destroy the power to act or express.
Where joy is very great, grief shows its might:
Grief and joy exchange places for a reason slight.
This world is not forever; it’s not strange
That our true love should (with our fortunes) change.
It is a matter left for us to prove:
Does love decide our fate, or fate our love?
The great man in decline will lose his friend:
The rising man finds enmities all end.
It seems, therefore, that love on fortune tends;
The well-healed man will never want for friends;
Yet he who’s out of luck, in seeking aid,
Finds his false friend an enemy’s been made.
But tidily to end where I began:
So different are our wants with fates own plan,
That schemes and plots are always overthrown.
Our thoughts are ours; the outcome’s not our own.
—Player King, from Hamlet