Alas, Poor Yorick Examples
The phrase "Alas, poor Yorick" is from William Shakespeare's Hamlet. In Act V, Scene I, Hamlet has a conversation with a gravedigger. The gravedigger unearths a skull that has been buried for a while. Hamlet inquires about who the person might be, and he realizes that he knew the person-Yorick. He picks up the skull and begins talking to him. These are Hamlet's words:
"Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio, a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy. He hath borne me on his back a thousand times, and now, how abhorred in my imagination it is! My gorge rises at it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft. -Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? Now get you to my lady's chamber and tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favor she must come. Make her laugh at that."
Yorick was the court jester of Hamlet's father. As Hamlet talks to the skull, he remembers Horatio's humor, and how Horatio carried him around on his back. Throughout Hamlet, there is a theme related to life and death, as well as the finality of death. When Hamlet talks to Yorick's skull, the theme is reinforced. Death is final, and in death, we are all the same-king, pauper, court jester.
In this same scene, Hamlet also alludes to the body of Alexander the Great, reinforcing his dawning understanding that in death, Yorick and Alexander are the same. All of humanity faces the same fate. This scene, near the end of the play seems to represent Hamlet's acceptance of that fate.
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