Thus twice before, and jump at this dead hour,
With martial stalk hath he gone by our watch.
In what particular thought to work I know not;
But in the gross and scope of my opinion,
This bodes some strange eruption to our state.
Good now, sit down, and tell me, he that knows,
Why this same strict and most observant watch
So nightly toils the subject of the land,
And why such daily cast of brazen cannon,
And foreign mart for implements of war;
Why such impress of shipwrights, whose sore task
Does not divide the Sunday from the week;
What might be toward, that this sweaty haste
Doth make the night joint-labourer with the day:
Who is't that can inform me?
That can I;
At least, the whisper goes so. Our last king,
Whose image even but now appear'd to us,
Was, as you know, by Fortinbras of Norway,
Thereto prick'd on by a most emulate pride,
Dared to the combat; in which our valiant Hamlet -
For so this side of our known world esteem'd him -
Did slay this Fortinbras; who by a seal'd compact,
Well ratified by law and heraldry,
Did forfeit, with his life, all those his lands
Which he stood seized of, to the conqueror:
(*Apologies that this episode ends only halfway through a sentence, but Horatio's text in this speech is very long and flowing, and there isn't a reasonable break for quite some time hereafter!)
The vast majority of verse drama in the Elizabethan period is written in Iambic Pentameter. Pentameter means that there are five sections (or feet) per line, and Iambic means that these feet are all Iambs, or short-LONG stressed sections. So, the basic rhythm of almost all poetic drama in English before Shakespeare is short-LONG short-LONG short-LONG short-LONG short-LONG. Or, as you might recognise, de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM. Rather akin to the human heartbeat, and certainly a rhythmic pattern that has given form to some of the most beautiful poetry in the English language. But sometimes there are more syllables to a thought than will fit into such a tight rhythm. Sometimes the playwright wants to squeeze in a little more. And in this instances - often because a character is thinking about something a little more complicated or confusing or terrifying - we get a bonus syllable in the line, meaning that it goes up to eleven. Lines like this aren't guaranteed to be a signal of reflection or concern, but they certainly often are. Think about To BE or NOT to BE that IS the QUEST-ion. Eleven syllables - existential crisis. If it fit neatly into a single even line, would there be any question at all? (We will obviously have to discuss this at length when we get to it, sometime in 2019 I assume...!)
Hendiadys (Greek for 'one through two') is a figure of speech whereby two ideas are combined to form a single image. A very simple example is a describing a cup of tea as "nice and hot". It features a great deal in the Bible, and indeed there are over sixty examples of it in Hamlet alone.
There's quite a notable contrast between King Hamlet's relations with Norway - ending with a violent, medieval single-combat, and Claudius' diplomacy. The world of 'laws and heraldry' seems to be over, and Hamlet has something of a nostalgia for his father's way of operating.