CLAUDIUS: But wait, what’s that noise?
GERTRUDE: Oh, sorrow follows sorrow!
GERTRUDE: Your sister’s drowned, Laertes.
LAERTES: Drowned? Oh, where?
GERTRUDE: There’s a willow that grows slanting over a brook, hanging its white leaves in the glassy stream.
There she was making fantastic garlands from the leaves, braiding in crow-flowers, thistles, daisies, and the orchises that vulgar shepherds have an obscene name for, but which our pure-minded girls call “dead men’s fingers.”
Climbing into the tree to hang her weedy wreath on the branches, one of the boughs broke, and she and her flowers fell into the weeping brook.
Her clothes spread wide, and for a while they kept her floating, like a mermaid, as she sang bits of old hymns.
It was as if she didn’t realize the danger she was in—or as if she was a creature who was born to live there, in the water.