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More poems by Ogden NashOgden Nash | Print this page.Print | View and Write CommentsComments (2) | Books by Ogden NashBooks by Ogden Nash

Very Like A Whale

Ogden Nash

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor.
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can'ts seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have
to go out
   of their way to say that it is like something else.
What foes it mean when we are told
That the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot
of Assyrians.
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus
   hinder longevity,
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming
   in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolf
on
   the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy there
are
   a great many things,
But i don't imagine that among then there is a wolf with purple
and gold
   cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually
   like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and
   big white teeth and did he say Woof woof?
Frankly I think it very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the
   very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian cohorts
   about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he had
to
   invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate
them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to
   people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot
of wolves dressed
   up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
from Homer
   to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a
   winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket
of snow and
   I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and
   we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly,
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

Added: 29 Aug 2001 | Last Read: 19 Dec 2014 6:26 PM | Viewed: 23140 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/534/ | Viewed on 19 December 2014.
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