Shakespeare on Heroin

Newly reformulated and cut with iambic pentameter.

Relapse Day 7: Bad Scene, Act I

To use or not to use, that is the question—
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The stabs and shots of outrageous misfortune
Or tie up Veins against a sea of troubles
And by injection, end them? To dream, to sleep—
Ever more; and with a shot, put to end
This Heartache, these thousand unnatural shocks
Our brains are heir to? ‘Tis a preparation
Devoutly taken. To walk the world asleep…
To sleep, perchance to Wake! Aye, there’s the rub,
For on our heroin, what life may come,
While we flee in disdain this mortal coil,
Must give us pause, despite all the Thoughts
That make Absurdity of waking life
For who would bear the stripes and bars of time,
The prosecutor’s wrong, the social scorn,
The pangs of junky love, the Law’s decay,
The insolence of officers, all spurns
The world merits but we are forced to take
While we ourselves might our quietus make
With a bare syringe. Who would these troubles bear,
To grieve and sweat under a broken life,
But that the dread of losing our escape,
From sobriety, that unsought country
Travelers avoid return to, slows our Time,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than withdraw to a world we care not for.
Thus Suffering does make Junkies of us all,
And thus the golden rays of opium
Are sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Dreams,
While enterprises of great pitch and moment,
Are tossed by Time as currents turn awry,
And we yield to Inaction.

Original free verse:

To use or not to use, that is the question—
Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The pains and miseries of outrageous misfortune
Or tie up Veins against a sea of troubles
And by injecting, end them? To dream, to sleep—
Forevermore; and by a shot, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand unnatural shocks
Our brains are heir to? ‘Tis a preparation
Devoutly to be taken. To walk the world, asleep…
To sleep, perchance to Wake! Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of heroin, what life may come,
When we have shuffled away to deny this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Absurdity of so painful a waking life
For who would bear the stripes and bars of time,
The prosecutor’s wrong, the society’s scorn,
The pangs of junky love, the Law’s decay,
The insolence of officers, and the spurns
That society merits yet we are forced to take
While we ourselves might our quietus make
With a bare syringe. Who would these troubles bear,
To grieve and sweat under a broken life,
But that the dread of losing something in our escape,
From an unsought country, whose sobriety
No traveler wishes to return to, collapses the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than withdraw to others that we care not for.
Thus Suffering does make junkies of us all,
And thus the golden rays of opium
Are sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
While enterprises of great pitch and moment,
Are lost to time and turn awry,
And we lose ourselves to inaction.

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12 thoughts on “Shakespeare on Heroin

    • Shakespeare is incredible, especially for actors. It’s really a challenge doing film adaptations. Olivier was the best Shakespeare lead ever, in all of history, period. I used to discount Shakespeare, but then I watched this series, Playing Shakespeare, by John Barton of the RSC. Master classes in acting. I am a director not an actor but it gives you wonderful insight and you can watch Ian McKellen, Helen Mirren, Ben Kingsley, Patrick Stewart in 1982 practicing with a master director… which is awesome.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086780/

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    • If you can quit, that’s great but speaking for myself, I dunno why you don’t just go for that diamorphine program. Four countries in the world! And you’re from half of them! 🙂 We’re jealous of you over here, sister.

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      • I’m too young and haven’t been through enough rehab programmes. Plus, it becomes your life. You have to go to a clinic three times a day at first, leaving no room for a job or a life. Even when the dose is established, you are tied to a clinic twice a day. Being a foreigner here, trips home are pretty important, but that would be impossible because there isn’t the option of diamorphine in my home town. Yes, it seems like the ultimate goal of heroin use, but only if heroin has already become your whole life.

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        • That’s funny, I quit methadone for freedom and travel myself. Felt chained like you say. You can’t import methadone into certain countries. It’s a hassle traveling with it at all, even though I was on so long and am such a good boy that I was able to get a month’s worth at a time. Two to three times a day? US regulations are only 5x a week for the first 90 days and then more takehomes from there. The clinics themselves mostly suck though.

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