Poetry News

Public Domain Review on Schneider Von Groot's Christmas Dream

By Harriet Staff
Beer Drinkers in Louisiana

Your hangover will thank you for reading this 1885 poem spawned by the temperance movement. Pointing to its location within Internet Archive, PDR explains that it, "dramatises the ills of drinking schnapps, through one man’s bloody battle with thousands of intoxicated demons." Here's a bit of the synopsis: 

It’s Christmas Eve and old Von Groot is on the way home to his family. Laying down for a moment for a rest on a roadside bank, he pulls out his pipe and begins singing about the glories of boozing. He drifts off and finds himself in a new land where, so a little elf there explains, the law requires him to drink schnapps “such as Dutchmen for ages have used for night caps.” Finding out that it flows like rivers there and is free, Von Groot declares it the place for him. He will stay and “drink like a fish from the morning till night.”

All of a sudden two demons appear and crawl into his eyes and ears. Drunk and aggressive, they and their emerging accomplices try to tie him down with “wythes of the willow and fir”. He manages to kill thousands of these miniature foe, but eventually they have him held down securely. A saviour of a green elf appears, cuts the ropes and sets him free. The grateful Von Groot wonders aloud what has led to all this slaughter. A voice cries out “It’s schnapps, and the blackness of hell / All its murders, its crimes and its sorrows can tell.”

Continue reading about it at Public Domain Review. For those of you celebrating the 100th anniversary of the start of Prohibition, go on and have a listen here.


Originally Published: January 10th, 2019