Yea, from the table of my memory
I'll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter: yes, by heaven!
O most pernicious woman!
O villain, villain, smiling, damnéd villain!
My tables - meet it is I set it down,
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain;
At least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark:
So, uncle, there you are. Now to my word;
It is 'Adieu, adieu! remember me.'
I have sworn 't.
[Within] My lord, my lord,--
[Within] Lord Hamlet,--
[Within] Heaven secure him!
So be it.
[Within] Hillo, ho, ho, my lord!
Hillo, ho, ho, boy! come, bird, come.
Enter HORATIO and MARCELLUS
Hamlet's reference to the tablets (tables) of his mind constitute an image of which Shakespeare seems to have been rather fond. He makes extensive use of it in Sonnet 122 - which I've included below.
Thy gift, thy tables, are within my brain
Full character'd with lasting memory,
Which shall above that idle rank remain
Beyond all date, even to eternity;
Or at the least, so long as brain and heart
Have faculty by nature to subsist;
Till each to razed oblivion yield his part
Of thee, thy record never can be miss'd.
That poor retention could not so much hold,
Nor need I tallies thy dear love to score;
Therefore to give them from me was I bold,
To trust those tables that receive thee more:
To keep an adjunct to remember thee
Were to import forgetfulness in me.
I wrote a whole extended introduction to today's episode about the word Oh and the way Shakespeare uses it within the texts of his plays. I've saved it and it'll show up in the not-too-distant future at a more appropriate moment. For now, suffice it to mention that it's the 3rd most frequent word in the whole play - after Lord and Good!
Shakespeare absolutely loved birds - not at all surprising for someone who grew up in the 16th century countryside. According to Caroline Spurgeon in her matchless book Shakespeare's Imagery, "He has more images of riding and of bird-snaring and falconry than of any other forms of outdoor sport, and in both these groups there is evidence of personal experience." No surprise, then, that even in so tiny a moment as Horatio's reappearance up on the battlements, there's a small nod to birds and hunting.