October 30, 2006

And here, ay here, there goes the hare away

‘And here, ay here, there goes the hare away.’ uttered from the position of commentator rather than active participant, Hieronimo’s words betray fear that he might miss the chance of talking to the King. They also betray dissatisfaction that the King comes accompanied by Ambassador, Castile and most importantly, by Lorenzo thus referring back to the court drivel and the ‘standers-by’ who try to ‘strike’ Hieronimo ‘mute’ (l. 4).

The phrase, with multiple meanings, constitutes one of the editorial disputes. Edwards points out that often the phrase refers ‘to losing something one has tried to achieve or hold’ (Edwards, fn l.24, p. 80) and that here it emphasises Hieronimo’s fear of losing his opportunity with the King (Bevington, fn l.24, p. 91), who passes by ‘preoccupied by business’ (Mulryne, fn l.24, p. 82). Boas, however, reads the proverb to mean ‘here the matter ends’ (Boas, fn l.24, p. 406) but points out that Schick, quoting Gosson’s Schole of Abuse, p. 70: ‘His labor, hoc opus est, there goeth the hare away,’ interprets the phrase as ‘there is the game I want to hunt; that’s where the game lies.’ (cf. Boas, p. 406). Cairncross reads it as ‘the quarry escapes’ (Cairncross, fn l.24, p. 131), while Eisaman reads it as ‘The hunt is underway’ (fn l.24, p. 343).


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