Groundhogs Day Hamlet Parody

In my efforts to research the origins of the Groundhog’s Day poem Quoth the Groundhog, I found another fun parody –– This one is a groundhog’s day parody play based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

This play was written by Herman E. Hoch and published on February 2, 1905 in the Intelligencer Journal.

It’s a shame I don’t have more theatrical friends + family here, I think this would be a very fun skit to do!

(with apologies to Shakespeare)

A snow-bound strip of country, over which the first faint light of dawn is breaking. Through the slowly lifting shadows the smooth surface of an ice-jettered stream is seen winding between rows of rime-hung willows that skirt the base of snow covered hills. An extraordinary quietude broods over the scene, broken occasionally by the low moaning sob of the wind, sweeping over the cold, bleak, landscape, and lifting in eddying gusts the mantle of snow from the frozen surface of the stream. Enter upon the scene a newspaper scribe, who is soon followed by a second scribe. They meet in the uncertain light of the slowly breaking dawn.

First Scribe:
Who's here? Stand and unfold yourself.

Second Scribe:
Long live the groundhog!

First Scribe:

Second Scribe:
He. Reenegilletni.

First Scribe:
The same. You come most carefully upon the appointed hour.

Second Seribe:
'Tis now struck six.

First Scribe:
In faith, my friend, we have most timely met.
Well are you welcome to this open air,
You had no trouble finding here your way?

Second Scribe:
I followed vour directions straight, coming
By the Wabank road. A weary, toilsome way
It was, in faith, through drifts of snow waist high.

First Scribe:
I looked to meet you at the old stone church,
And for a period brief awaited you.
'Tis passing strange we missed each other there.
Howe'er, tis naught. Didst meet with questioning ones
As early through the city's streets you passed?

Second Scribe:
A milkman from his team accosted me;
But I, forsooth, no notice took, letting
His morning salutation pass me by
As the idle winds, which I respect not.
Methinks a vague belief took hold of him,
That (knowing me to be a hustling scribe)
I was thus early on the groundhog quest;
And he, no doubt, would fain have plucked from me
The secret where the seer doth yearly come
"To give his prophecies of spring's advance
Or hoary winter's long-continued reign.
But rest you merry, good, my honest friend,
Since you have let me this great secret know,
I'll keep it safe within my bosom locked.

First Scribe:
'Tis well. Lo, this is hallowed ground. Within
The quiet precinets of this snow-bound vale
Far sunken from the bustling haunts of men,
Far from the slanting rays of winter's sun,
Deep in his earth-home sleeps the mighty seer.
But now the great eventful hour has struck,
And at the self-same beat of Time's wide wings,
When o'er the erest of yon high eastward hill
The morn appears, in russet mantle clad,
The prophet, wakened from his winter's sleep,
His prophecy of Candlemas will give
Before the entrance of his humble lodge.
But, ah, the air bites shrewdly. It is cold.

Second Scribe:
It is a nipping and an eager air.
But tell me now, where is the winter home
Of this great weather seer? I see no sign
Of groundhog den amid this dreary waste
Where dreadful Winter spreads his latest glooms
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquered vear
How still all nature is! Desolation
Wide extends its melencholy, bleak domain.

First Scribe:
You lack a poet's soul, my fellow scribe.
Canst see no beauty in this wintry scene?
Is ruin seen. No other time like this
To visit nature in her grand attire.
For Winter, with his forehead wrapped in clouds,
His scattered hair with sleet-like ashes filled,
His breath congealed upon his lips, his cheeks
Fringed with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, unlovely as he seems,
Hath vet a grandeur all his own; he boasts
Splendors beyond what gorgeous summer knows,
Or autumn, with its many fruits and woods
All flushed with many hues. But see, good friend,
Night's candles are burnt low, and jocund morn
Stands tip-toe on the misty mountain top!
And look you there, where now the prophet peeps
From out his burrow near the river's edge!
See how he cautiously comes forth and sniffs
The frigid air! How sapient and astute
That upward sweeping, comprehensive glance!
He hath a kind of honor sets him off
More than a mortal seeming. Roosevelt
Himself could not a mien more lordly bear.
A greater seer ne'er trod this mundane sphere
Than yonder member of the marmot tribe.
By all the gods, it doth amaze me much
That such a humble little burrowing beast
Should get the start of the majestic world
And bear the palm alone!

(Enter Groundhog.)

Second Scribe:
Angels and ministers of grace defend us!
Does he bring airs of gentle spring, or more
Of winter's iev blasts? Speak to him, friend,
    (Groundhog beckons First Scribe.)

See how he beckons you away, as if
He some impartment did desire to vou
Alone. Look with what cautious action now
He waves you to a more removed ground!

First Scribe:
He will not speak, it seems, to other ears
Than mine; I'll follow him. He waves me still;
Go on, thou prophet great, I'll follow thee.

     (Exeunt Groundhog and First Scribe.)

Second Scribe:
Must I stay here to burst in ignorance
Till he returns? In faith, I'll do not so.
I'll follow him, but at a distance go.

   (Another part of the vale.).
   (Enter Groundhog and First Scribe).

First Scribe:
Where wilt thou lead me? Speak, I'll go no further.

Mark me.

First Scribe:
I will

I am a prophet old,
My forecasts manifold,
Thou oft in song hast told
  Great glory won me.
In thy forthcoming verse,
These facts thou must rehearse,
Else will the groundhog's curse
  Bring evils on thee.

When stars together sang,
While space with music rang
And worlds from chaos sprang,
  This earth, then steaming
In the primeval storm,
Took shape in sphere form,
Then slowly grew less warm,
  With rains down streaming.

When it had cooled off quite
The sun cave heat and light.
Seas, land and blue skies bright
  Came in due season.
With vegetation rife
From lower forms of life
Came man with strength for strife,
  But little reason.

As age on age revolved,
Man gradually evolved,
On higher aims resolved
  Grew less rapacious.
Then, when a brighter age
Illumined history's page,
appeared the groundhog sage,
  Wise and sagacious.

Ere Troy fell, sore dismayed,
Beneath the Grecian raid;
  Ere rang Athenian shade
With Homer's epic,
On many a distant wold,
By classic rivers old,
Great groundhog seers had told
  Tidings prophetic.

Then 'twas that groundhog day
Was marked with feastings gay
That time has passed away,
  Alack, forever.
Now, in these modern days
Too few accord me praise.
Despite your halting lays,
  Not always clever.

To me it matters not
Of fools there are a lot,
Who can't tell what is what
  In your old city:
Though such may laugh and scout
At forecasts I give out,
The more they scoff and douht
  The more's the pity.

But what can one expect
From people who reflect
By ring-men they elect
  Low civic morals?
For politics that's queer,
And graft that costs you dear,
And free election beer
  You take the laurels.

I know it is a sin
For me to sit and grin
At straits your city's in
  From boss-rule evil.
The way you run your town
By voting Virtue down
And giving Graft the crown
  Does beat the devil.

But let that matter pass;
The dawn of Candlemas
Is breaking clear and fast,
  O'er hill and meadow.
See, where von golden ravs
Set snow-bound fields ablaze
Ye gods! before my gaze
  There lies my shadow!

'Tis not for you to pry
Into the reason why
I now must straight way hie
  Me to my burrow:
for six weeks vet to come,
Fierce winds will roar and hum.
Great cold will bring to some
  Distress and sorrow.

Now leave this hallowed ground;
My prophecy resound:
Bid Rev. Knox look round
  For food and fuel.
Tell every one you meet
To loot: for snow and sleet-
The Press club, your retreat,
  From cold most cruel.

There, tell my old friend Risk,
Whose wit is keen and brisk,
Of Husley, Spencer, Fiske
  He talks too serious.
When Hensel, Grube and Howell,
Hear him, they sit and scowl,
And Carson, like an owl,
  Looks dazed and curious.

Farewell, my worthy friend,
Our meeting's at an end,
Your fellow scribe attend
  But pray, remember
All you have heard me say
On this great Groundhog das
Now I must haste away
  For six weeks' slumber.

First Scribe:
Remember what you said! Ah, thou great seer,
While memory holds a seat within my head!
Yea, from the table of my memory
TIl wipe awav all trivial ford records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past
'That vouth and observation copied there:
And the commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmixed with baser matter.

Second Scribe (calling from a distance):
Hillo, ho, ho, good friend!

First Scribe.
Hillo, lo, ho, boy in Come on, come on.
          (Enter Second Scribe)

Second Scribe:
How is it, my friend?

First Scribe:
O, wonderful!

Second Scribe:
Good, my friend; what did the groundhog say?

First Scribe:
When clouds appear wise men put on their cloaks,
When great leaves fall the winter is at hand,
When bluebirds sing, then look for spring's advance.

Second Scribe:
There needs no groundhog seer come from his hole,
My friend, to tell us this.

First Scribe:
Why right you are, in the right:
And so without more circumstance at all,
1 hold it fit that we shake hands and part;
You as your duties and desires may point you,
And for my own poor part, look you, I'll go
Write the great seer's forecast down. But ere we
Part, good friend, pray give me one small request.

Second Scribe:
What is it?

First Scribe:
Never make known where you have seen the mighty seer

Second Scribe:
My friend, I will not.

First Scribe:
Nay, but swear it.

Second Scribe:
Propose the oath.

First Scribe:
Never to speak of this secluded spot where we have seen
the groundhog seer. Swear by your sacred word.

Groundhog (beneath):
Six weeks more!

Second Scribe:
Hark, from the tomb a doleful sound! Yonder is a country churchyard as I live. Come, let's away.

First Scribe:
How poor are they who have no courage! You hear the
marmot in his burrow –– Consent to swear ––never to speak
of this most sacred place. Swear, by your honored word.

Groundhog (beneath):
Six weeks more!

First Scribe:
Well said, great seer. Once more begin, good friend,
never, so help you merey, reveal to any one this hallowed

Groundhog (beneath):
Six weeks more.

Second Scribe:
Oh, day and night, but this is wondrous strange!

First Scribe:
And, therefore, as a stranger, give it welcome.
There are more things in heaven and earth, my good
Than are dreamed of in your philosophy
But come:
Here as before. Swear on your Sacred honor.

Groundhog (beneath):
Six weeks more.

First Scribe:
Rest, rest, perturbed prophet. [Second Scribe swears.]
So, friend, let us go home together.
And still your fingers on your lips, I pray
Reveal to no man where you've been this day. 

–– HERMAN E. HOCH., published February 2, 1905, Intelligencer Journal

So silly, which is exactly what Grounhog’s Day is – but that’s half the fun!

What do you think of this 100+ year old parody on Shakespeare’s Hamlet? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!

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