Sweets to the sweet
What, the fair Ophelia!
[Scattering flowers] Sweets to the sweet, farewell!
I hop'd thou shouldst have been my Hamlet's wife:
I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid,
And not have strew'd thy grave.
When Hamlet's mother, the queen, delivers "Sweets to the sweet,"
she's not bearing a hostess gift or offering candy to her date. The
queen's "sweets" are funeral bouquets scattered in the grave of
Ophelia, Hamlet's former flame.
The prince, who has just finished addressing the skull of Yorick
[see ALAS, POOR YORICK], stumbles upon the funeral, ignorant
that Ophelia has likely committed suicide. The murder of her father
had driven Ophelia mad; Hamlet was the murderer, and the queen a
witness. This is all bad enough. But the queen's elegiac nostalgia
for her son's courtship of this deceased "sweet" is all the more
disturbing in light of Hamlet's somewhat over-arduous attachment to
It's therefore ironic that "sweets to the sweet" has become a
corny quotation for those special romantic moments. How effective
the line proves depends on how vividly one's "sweet" is likely to
recall the graveyard scene in Hamlet. You might, however, find these bons mots most
winning when offered with a willow branch and a whiff of charm to a