Junior Ganymede
We endeavor to give satisfaction

Scratching the Itch for Rhyme

June 04th, 2014 by G.

Me and the girls are reciting Ogden Nash to each other these days. I’ve always liked him (him and Barbara Fritchie) and now the girls are liking him too.

Here’s one we like:

FIRST CHILD . . . SECOND CHILD

Be it a girl, or one of the boys,
It is scarlet all over its avoirdupois,
It is red, it is boiled; could the obstetrician
Have possibly been a lobstertrician?
His degrees and credentials were hunky-dory,
But how’s for an infantile inventory?
Here’s the prodigy, here’s the miracle!
Whether its head is oval or spherical,
You rejoice to find it has only one,
Having dreaded a two-headed daughter or son;
Here’s the phenomenon all complete,
It’s got two hands, it’s got two feet,
Only natural, but pleasing, because
For months you have dreamed of flippers or claws.
Furthermore, it is fully equipped:
Fingers and toes with nails are tipped;
It’s even got eyes, and a mouth clear cut;
When the mouth comes open the eyes go shut,
When the eyes go shut, the breath is loosed
And the presence of lungs can be deduced.
Let the rockets flash and the cannon thunder,
This child is a marvel, a matchless wonder.
A staggering child, a child astounding,
Dazzling, diaperless, dumbfounding,
Stupendous, miraculous, unsurpassed,
A child to stagger and flabbergast,
Bright as a button, sharp as a thorn,
And the only perfect one ever born.

SECOND

Arrived this evening at half-past nine.
Everybody is doing fine.
Is it a boy, or quite the reverse?
You can call in the morning and ask the nurse.

I like good poetry. I wish it hadn’t gone out of our life. It has, though, and I think its partly because light verse has gone too. The one was soil to the other.

HT to Bruce Charlton.

Comments (6)
Filed under: Brilliantly Lit,Deseret Review | Tags:
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June 04th, 2014 08:30:32
6 comments

Bookslinger
June 4, 2014

I before E,
except after C.
What a weird
Society.


Agellius
June 4, 2014

Excellent and so true! The second was a walk in the park by comparison. This is what I always try to convey to people with only one child: Have another! It’s easier than the first and they’ll play with each other!


Bruce Charlton
June 4, 2014

Ah! – Light Verse! Maybe this one is my favourite of all – I feel as if I could write a thesis on what is going on here behind the apparently-effortless fluency:

*

The Old Sailor
by A.A. Milne

There was once an old sailor my grandfather knew
Who had so many things which he wanted to do
That, whenever he thought it was time to begin,
He couldn’t because of the state he was in.

He was shipwrecked, and lived on a island for weeks,
And he wanted a hat, and he wanted some breeks;
And he wanted some nets, or a line and some hooks
For the turtles and things which you read of in books.

And, thinking of this, he remembered a thing
Which he wanted (for water) and that was a spring;
And he thought that to talk to he’d look for, and keep
(If he found it) a goat, or some chickens and sheep.

Then, because of the weather, he wanted a hut
With a door (to come in by) which opened and shut
(With a jerk, which was useful if snakes were about),
And a very strong lock to keep savages out.

He began on the fish-hooks, and when he’d begun
He decided he couldn’t because of the sun.
So he knew what he ought to begin with, and that
Was to find, or to make, a large sun-stopping hat.

He was making the hat with some leaves from a tree,
When he thought, “I’m as hot as a body can be,
And I’ve nothing to take for my terrible thirst;
So I’ll look for a spring, and I’ll look for it first.”

Then he thought as he started, “Oh, dear and oh, dear!
I’ll be lonely tomorrow with nobody here!”
So he made in his note-book a couple of notes:
“I must first find some chickens” and “No, I mean goats.”

He had just seen a goat (which he knew by the shape)
When he thought, “But I must have boat for escape.
But a boat means a sail, which means needles and thread;
So I’d better sit down and make needles instead.”

He began on a needle, but thought as he worked,
That, if this was an island where savages lurked,
Sitting safe in his hut he’d have nothing to fear,
Whereas now they might suddenly breathe in his ear!

So he thought of his hut … and he thought of his boat,
And his hat and his breeks, and his chickens and goat,
And the hooks (for his food) and the spring (for his thirst) …
But he never could think which he ought to do first.

And so in the end he did nothing at all,
But basked on the shingle wrapped up in a shawl.
And I think it was dreadful the way he behaved –
He did nothing but basking until he was saved!


Adam G.
June 4, 2014

That was grand. It’s like Burridan’s Ass, but much more fun.


Bruce Charlton
June 5, 2014

@Adam

You might also enjoy the parody by Wendy Cope at the end of this post:

http://charltonteaching.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/when-i-am-old.html

I also love this poem from the Alice books – FIRST version much superior

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haddocks'_Eyes

The last, crazed, stanza on one rhyme is a marvellous ending.


Vader
June 5, 2014

Love Ogden Nash.

Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.

Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus!
We really look all right to us,
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.

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