Thursday, February 14, 2008

An Early Troll who Wasn't.......

I've always enjoyed Ogden Nash's poetry. Sometimes he's just great fun, sometimes poignant.
His verses on matrimony are immortal. And he writes about babies and children, mostly with affection. But in one of his earliest poems he is just about as annoyed by babies and their parents and the associated industries as Falstaff is wont to be. And even dear Yashodhara found babies quite ugly and unappealing, in the bad old days before Peanut appeared on the scene.

So here's dear Mr.Nash trashing babies, little realising, perhaps, that they would be the inspiration for some of his most loved poems.

Did Someone Say 'Babies'?

Everybody who has a baby thinks everybody who hasn't a baby ought
to have a baby.
Which accounts for the success of such plays as the Irish Rose of Abie.
The idea apparently that just being fruitful
You are doing something beautiful.
Which if it is true
Means that the common housefly is several million times more beautiful
than me or you.
Who is responsible for this propaganda that fills all our houses from
their attics to their kitchens?
Is it the perambulator trust or safety pin manufacturers or the census
takers or the obstetrichens?
Men and women everywhere would have a lot more chance of acquiring
recreation and fame and financial independence
If they didn't have to spend most of their time and money tending and
supporting two or three unattractive descendants.
We could soon upset this kettle of fish, forsooth.
If every adult would come out and tell every other adult the truth.
To arms, adults! Kindle the beacon fires!
Women, do you want to be nothing but dams? Men, do you want to be
nothing but sires?
To arms, Mr. President! Call out the army, the navy, the marines the
militia, the cadets and the middies.
Down with the kiddies!
( from Free Wheeling, 1931)

This anti-baby stance doesn't seem to last for very long. In his poem,
'Some of my best friends are children'( Happy Days, 1933), he goes on to conclude:

The Politician, the Parent, the Preacher,
Were each of them once a kiddie.
The child is indeed a talented creature.
Do I want one? Oh God forbidde!

Of course there's always our child,
But our child's adorable,
Our child's an angel
Fairer than the flowers;
Our child fascinates
One who's rather borable;
And incidentally,
Our child is ours.

I guess that says it all!


Anonymous said...

Yay! Another Ogden nash gem! Isn't he the best-est? :D

I've got another one on mine - First Child, Second Child it's called.

Have you heard this one:
A little bit of talcum
Is always walcum.

SUR NOTES said...

but i must add that the anti baby one is much more fun.

dipali said...

Aanchal: The very bestest! Yes, I love First Child, Second Child.
I also love "it must be the milk"
which starts
There is a thought I have tried not to but cannot help but think
which is how much babies resemble people who have had too much to drink

Sur: agreed!

Anonymous said...

and i will make sure anjali di reads this!!!! :D

Vrijilesh Rai said...

Yep.. Ogden Nash wrote some of the most admired verses, if I may call them thus. The anti-child one featured here is too good!

Sukhaloka said...

ooh, I love Ogden Nash.

Donne just doesn't cut it for me, I'm afraid.
:more syllabus-related whining:

Cee Kay said...

I have to say that when I look at some people's kids, I DO agree with Falstaff and Yashodhara's early stance on babies :( Maybe my intolerance for bratty babies is what made me a good (??) parent and that is why S turned out so disciplined? (Too early to say anything for M)

Me being the "science" type never had the fortune to gorge on such literary gems. I am going to google Ogden Nash and read whatever I can find! I do remember reading one poem from him though - An Ode to.... something :P Well that is all my memory can dredge up, unfortunately.

By the way, done your tag. Please come check!

Neera said...


Banno said...

Thanks for commenting, and not just lurking. Because that brought me to your blog. I think if you love babies, having one of your own, quickly cures you of all romantic fantasies. Specially the ones about having a cricket team.

Space Bar said...

i know ON does very long lines but they're difficult to read when they run on...what to do? make the font smaller?

Unknown said...

I love that man. He's a gem. He writes poetry I could actually want to read.

dipali said...

anshu: loyalties can change, my dear!
Vrij, Suki: Yes, he's really great fun.
gettingtherenow:with you on this totally. I was also Science type, happened to come across this poet.
Neera: Will do, soon
Banno: Glad to see you here. I guess having babies is one of the greatest acts of faith on this planet, second only to marriage:)
Space Bar: His endless lines are part of his charm:)
Kiran:Me too, me too:)