It's a lousy rainy day and the dog star is dominant so it's the silly season and we are deprived of the magical emanations of our stoves. They really are magical when you consider that they bring out the same emotions as our distant ancestors felt and so fixed them in our genes. In that sense no time has past. We are immortal.
But back to fardels. A fardel is a bundle or burden. I first ran across the word when reading Hamlet in high School and once I found out what it was, for some reason I pictured the fardel being carried like I saw in many cartoons of the depression period being carried by tramps, which was a stick thrown over the shoulder on the end of which was a cloth bundle. I have never seen anyone carry something this way yet it must have been common to be illustrated so often. Is this a good way? It goes back a long way as the picture shows.
Back to Hamlet where the quote came from and a four hundred year old voice that is timeless. Here is how he used it followed by more modern English.
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s contumely,
The pangs of despised 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 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 traveler 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.—Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia!—Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remembered.
After all, who would put up with all life’s humiliations—the abuse from superiors, the insults of arrogant men, the pangs of unrequited love, the inefficiency of the legal system, the rudeness of people in office, and the mistreatment good people have to take from bad—when you could simply take out your knife and call it quits? Who would choose to grunt and sweat through an exhausting life, unless they were afraid of something dreadful after death, the undiscovered country from which no visitor returns, which we wonder about without getting any answers from and which makes us stick to the evils we know rather than rush off to seek the ones we don’t? Fear of death makes us all cowards, and our natural boldness becomes weak with too much thinking. Actions that should be carried out at once get misdirected, and stop being actions at all. But shh, here comes the beautiful Ophelia. Pretty lady, please remember me when you pray.
The modern English loses a lot of the poetry and beauty of the original but the wisdom remains of a man who probably had a more perfect intuitive understanding of human nature than anyone who has ever lived.
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