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Ham Sandwich Hamlet (poem 17)

May 7, 2010
tags: , ,

To be, or not to be: That is the question. Are any of Shakespeare’s lines more famous than this? Hamlet’s speech is a phenomenal piece of writing. It’s enough to make any English Major swoon over the Majesty of Words. The passage is amazing beyond this famous beginning — I think it’s well worth the time to read the whole thing (but then again, I’m a big fan of Will Shakespeare). The Bard brings out his eloquence in full force as Hamlet ponders the consequences of death. With such lines as…

To die; to sleep;—
To sleep? Perchance to dream! Ay, there ’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffl’d off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause.

… is it any surprise that these words still pack a gut punch after 400 years? (The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark was written between 1599 and 1601.) Surely, the full speech is available on tons of websites, and you can find it on (the passage is almost at the middle of the page).

But before you jump to Shakespeare’s actual words, please ream my poem below, inspired by Hamlet’s speech, and given by a classically trained ham sandwich…

Ham Sandwich Hamlet
Ham Sandwich Hamlet
It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for.
I’ve seen my ham sandwich
perform Hamlet for three nights straight.
Every night, a hush falls over
the audience at this precise moment.
This is it.
Shakespeare’s master speech
a master piece
of a man’s
(or sandwich’s)
desperate wrestling with his inner demons.
And now, it’s delivered by a master thespian.


Enter Hamlet

Ham. To be on rye,
or not to be on rye:
that is one of many questions.
Whether ’tis nobler to be paired
with coleslaw
or thick-cut french fries —
or to suffer the crunches
of a bag of potato chips.
And on a plate to say that
we end the growling
and the thousand pangs of hunger
that stomachs are heir to.
‘Tis a satisfaction of fullness
devoutly to be wished.
To die, to be eaten —
to be eaten, perchance to fill a stomach.
Ay, there’s the belly to rub.
For in that fullness of belly,
what energy may come.
When the eater has shuffled off a hungry coil,
My sandwich friends and I must pause.
Because we may live a long life —
that is until the
whips and scorns of mold
overtake our breads
and thinly sliced luncheon meats and cheeses.
The insolence of oppressing fungi
spurns what should be a patient and worthy decision.
When a sandwich jumps onto a plate
and is halved by a bare knife,
it may dread the gnashing teeth and
traveling along the
undiscovered country of the digestive tract.
But could it bear those ills for the
opportunity to fulfill a lunch order?
I wish my fellow sandwiches
would not let our consciences
make cowards of us all.
Do not give in to the
sickly mold of waiting too long!
Instead, join in the
great enterprise of lunch
and reward an eater with a full stomach
that carries him or her ’til dinner —
or at least ’til a mid-afternoon snack.

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