An Ode to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern 50 Years Later

A Poetic Summary of Tom Stoppard’s Award-Winning Play As Seen Through the Eyes of Its Two Leading Characters

Says Rosencrantz to Guildenstern, “I fear dear Hamlet’s lost his mind.”
Says Guildenstern to Rosencrantz, “He says he’s locked up, chained, confined
Within a prison without walls, the whole of Denmark is his gaol.”
Says Rosencrantz, “He proffers only feigned insanity as bail,
“As if deceit and guile could e’er assuage his father’s cruel death!
“Or re-inspire his ghostly, disembodied, spectral form with breath!”
“And yet,” says Guildenstern, “the King who wears the stolen crown seems more
“Inclined to melancholia than e’en the Prince of Elsinore.”
“And as for us,” says Rosencrantz, “we play the part of ‘go-betweens’
“For King and Queen, and old Polonius, while using ev’ry means
“At our disposal to provide a bit of comical relief
“And breathe some levity and life into a play that’s filled with grief,
“Depression, fratricide, and graveyard skulls, a ghost, revenge, despair,
“And bloodied bodies, dead and dying, lying nearly ev’ry where!”
“Dear Rosencrantz,” says Guildenstern, “I fear we are expendable,
“And only serve to make the brooding Hamlet seem commendable;
“Mere functionaries, as it were, to fill the play with idle verse
“While adding little to the plot except for pointless banter, terse
“And, in the end, entirely forgettable.” “Indeed, ‘tis true,”
Came Rosencrantz’ reply. “There wasn’t anything that we could do
“To make a difference. In short, the whole of what we did and said
“Is summarized to wit: ‘That Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.’”


James A. Tweedie is a recently retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He likes to walk on the beach with his wife. He has written and self-published four novels and a collection of short stories. He has several hundred unpublished poems tucked away in drawers.

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3 Responses

  1. Jan Darling

    Hugely amusing and a great idea. Thank you Mr Tweedie for introducing my day in such a manner. I shall happily banter my way through the next twenty-four hours.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Jan, I am glad that my poem elicited the word “happily” in your reply. That was more or less the emotion I was attempting to tweak! As I note the otherwise un-deafening response to the poem, I fear I may have overstepped and strayed too far into the land of Esoterica.

  2. James Sale

    Not at all James – very enjoyable indeed, and it made me smile, especially the inevitability of that last line! Great!


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