Hamlet in Klingon

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Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy, in Klingon:

taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.
yIn mevbogh mIwvam’e’ wIruchqangbej.
Hegh. Qong. QongDI’ chaq naj. toH, waQlaw’ ghu’vam!
HeghDaq maQongtaHvIS, tugh nuq wInajlaH,
volchaHmajvo’ jubbe’wI’ bep wIwoDDI’;
‘e’ wIqelDI’, maHeDnIS. Qugh DISIQnIS,
SIQmoHmo’ qechvam. Qugh yIn nI’moH ‘oH.

It either endures, or it does not endure. Now, I must consider this sentence.
Is it honorable, when one endures the torpedoes and phasers of agressive fate?
Or, when one obtains weapons to fight a seeming ocean of troubles,
And when, by fighting, one finishes them? One dies. One sleeps. One merely sleeps.
And when one sleeps, it is believed that one can finish the pain of the heart
And the thousand revolts which one’s body must succeed to.
We are certainly willing to initiate this way to finish life.
One dies. One sleeps. When one sleeps, perhaps one dreams. Well, this situation seems to be the obstacle!
What we can soon dream of, while sleeping in death,
Having thrown away from our shoulders the cargo of the mortal —
When we consider that, we must retreat. We must endure disasters,
Because this idea makes us endure them. It lengthens the life of the disasters.

Contradictory Proverbs

Look before you leap.
He who hesitates is lost.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Out of sight, out of mind.

You’re never too old to learn.
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

Better safe than sorry.
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
Nice guys finish last.

Many hands make light work.
Too many cooks spoil the broth.

The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Silence is golden.

Alice’s Riddle

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Everyone likes a good riddle. In Chapter 7 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter poses a famous one: “Why is a raven like a writing desk?” Lewis Carroll intended that it should have no solution, but puzzle maven Sam Loyd offered these anyway:

  • Because the notes for which they are noted are not noted for being musical notes.
  • Poe wrote on both.
  • Bills and tales are among their characteristics.
  • Because they both stand on their legs, conceal their steels (steals), and ought to be made to shut up.

In 1896, Carroll proposed an answer himself: “Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!” (“Nevar” is “raven” spelled backward.)

Po’ Poe

A desperate letter from Edgar Allan Poe to his Philadelphia publishers, Aug. 13, 1841:

Gentlemen, — I wish to publish a new collection of my prose Tales with some such title as this —

“The Prose Tales of Edgar A. Poe, Including ‘The Murders in the Rue Morgue.’ The ‘Descent into the Maelstrom,’ and all his later pieces, with a second edition of the ‘Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque.'”

The “later pieces” will be eight in number, making the entire collection thirty-three — which would occupy two thick novel volumes.

I am anxious that your firm should continue to be my publishers, and, if you would be willing to bring out the book, I should be glad to accept the terms which you allowed me before — that is — you receive all profits, and allow me twenty copies for distribution to friends.

They turned him down in three days flat. A century later, at a 1944 auction, the letter itself fetched $3,000.

Poe’s Death

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What killed Edgar Allan Poe?

On Oct. 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore, delirious and wearing clothes that were not his own. The man who found him said he was “in great distress, and … in need of immediate assistance.” He remained incoherent and died four days later. He was only 40.

An acquaintance said it was drunkenness, but he turned out to be a supporter of the temperance movement who distorted the facts. The attending physician wrote that “Edgar Allan Poe did not die under the effect of any intoxicant, nor was the smell of liquor upon his breath or person.”

Well, what, then? Other theories include a rare brain disease, diabetes, enzyme deficiency, syphilis, even rabies. Some people think Poe was accosted, drugged, and used as a pawn in a plot to stuff ballot boxes that day.

There’s no surviving death certificate, so we’ll never really know. Today Poe lies in the churchyard at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, where mystery follows him even in death: Every year since 1949, the grave has been visited by a mystery man in the early hours of the poet’s birthday, Jan. 19. Dressed in black and carrying a silver-tipped cane, the “Poe Toaster” kneels at the grave and makes a toast with Martel cognac. He leaves behind the half-empty bottle and three red roses.