The Bachelor's Soliloquy

The Bachelor's Soliloquy

Original Text
Edgar A. Guest, Home Rhymes From "Breakfast Table Chat" (Detroit: no publisher, 1909), pp. 70-71. Brief PSA 0024155 ROBA
2Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
3The bills and house rent of a wedded fortune,
5And by declining cut her. To wed; to smoke
6No more; And have a wife at home to mend
7The holes in socks and shirts
8And underwear and so forth. 'Tis a consummation
9Devoutly to be wished. To wed for life;
10To wed; perchance to fight; ay, there's the rub;
11For in that married life what fights may come,
12When we have honeymooning ceased
13Must give us pause; there's the respect
14That makes the joy of single life.
15For who would bear her mother's scornful tongue,
16Canned goods for tea, the dying furnace fire;
17The pangs of sleepless nights when baby cries;
18The pain of barking shins upon a chair and
19Closing waists that button down the back,
20When he himself might all these troubles shirk
21With a bare refusal? Who would bundles bear,
22And grunt and sweat under a shopping load?
24Cart cheese and crackers home to serve at night
26After tea; sing rag time songs, amusing
27Friendly neighbors. Buy garden tools
28To lend unto the same. Stay home at nights
29In smoking coat and slippers and slink to bed
30At ten o'clock to save the light bills?
31Thus duty does make cowards of us all,
32And thus the native hue of matrimony
33Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of chores;
34And thus the gloss of marriage fades away,
35And loses its attraction.


1] A take-off on Hamlet's soliloquy in III.1.58-90 (quoted from William Shakespeare, The Complete Works: Electronic Edition for the IBM PC, ed. Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989):

To be, or not to be; that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And, by opposing, end them. To die, to sleep_
No more, and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to_'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep.
To sleep, perchance to dream. Ay, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life,
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of disprized love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office, and the spurns
That patient merit of th' unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. Back to Line

4] nit: an emphatic no. Back to Line
23] rats: pads over which a woman's hair is arranged. Back to Line
25] pedro: a card game (not known). Back to Line
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
RPO 1998.