I have of late (but wherefore I know not) lost all my mirth,
Indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that
This goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory
This most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament
This majestical roof fretted with golden fire
Why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors
This is the first part of Hamlet’s speech to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The second part can be found here.
The British literary critic and Professor of English Literature John Chruton Collins (1848-1908) said of this… ‘It would be hard to cull from the whole body of prose literature a passage which more strikingly demonstrated the splendour and the majesty of our language, when freed from the shackles of rhyme for with it Shakespeare has raised prose to the sublimest pitch of verse.’