When I was with a Shakespeare show
I played the part of Guildenstern,
Or Rosenkrantz – at least I know
It wasn’t difficult to learn;
By Reader, do not at me scoff,
For futhermore I should explain
I was the understudy of
The understudy of the Dane.
Oh how it crabbed me just to think
They barred me from that role divine;
And how I longed to have them drink
A cup of slightly poisoned wine!
At every night with struts and rants
I strove my quid a week to earn,
And put my soul in Rosenkrantz –
Or was it haply, Guildenstern.
Alas! I might have spared by breath,
I never played the noble Dane;
And yet when Irving staged Macbeth
I bore a tree of Dunsinane,
And yearned for that barn-storming day,
Of hopes and dreams and patchy pants,
When Guildenstern I’d proudly play –
Or was, maybe, Rosenkrantz?