It's act 4, scene 7 of Hamlet and the bad news just keeps on coming for poor old Laertes. Not only has he just found out from Claudius that it was Hamlet who killed his father, Polonius, but now Gertrude has brought the tragic news that his sister, Ophelia, has drowned. Gertrude's description of Ophelia's death is extraordinarily thorough; she holds nothing back, giving us a detailed account of everything that happened.
Ophelia, apparently, was making wild wreaths from the flowers of a willow tree that leans over a brook. She climbed the tree to hang the wreath upon the branches but then suddenly fell into the water. Initially, Ophelia appeared in no immediate danger due to her dress keeping her afloat. She remained blithely unconcerned at her predicament, singing snatches of old hymns without a care in the world:
Her clothes spread wide, And mermaid-like a while they bore her up, Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued...
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