Music in Shakespearean Tragedy

By F. W. Sternfeld | Go to book overview

IX
INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC: PART TWO Stringed versus Wind Instruments

I. Trumpets

TOWARDS the conclusion of Shakespeare's most celebrated tragedy Horatio speaks the well-known lines:

Good night, sweet prince, And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest! Why does the drum come hither? [ S. D. Enter Fortinbras, the English ambassadors, with drum, colours, and attendants.]

Not only is the song of the angels--or the muses--interrupted by the music of war, but the play's apotheosis is pronounced in Martian tones:

Fortinbras.Let four captains
Bear Hamlet like a soldier to the stage,
For he was likely, had he been put on,
To have proved most royally; and for his passage,
The soldier's music and the rites of war
Speak loudly for him.
Take up the bodies. Such a sight as this
Becomes the field, but here shows much amiss.
Go, bid the soldiers shoot.
[S.D. Exeunt marching: after the which a peal of ordnance are shot off.]

-210-

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