Ogden Nash


Tell me, O Octopus, I begs
Is those things arms, or is they legs?
I marvel at thee, Octopus;
If I were thou, I'd call me Us.


I don't mind eels
Except as meals.


The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what?
Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?


I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he's not,
Or, if he is, he makes a spot.


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!
As you no doubt delight the eye
Of other hippopotami.


God in his wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why.


Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it, and found it good,
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.


There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.

From "Columbus"

So Columbus said, somebody show me the sunset and somebody did and he set sail
for it
And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it
And the fetters gave him welts
And they named America after someone else
So the sad fate of Columbus should be pointed out to every child and every
Because it has a very important moral, which is, Don't be a discoverer, be a

From "Don't Grin or You'll Have To Bear It"

It is better in the long run to possess an abcess or a tumor
Than to possess a sense of humor
People who have senses of humor have a very good time
But they never accomplish anything of note, either despicable or sublime
Because how can anyone accomplish anything immortal
When they realize they look pretty funny doing it and have to stop to chortle

From "Will You Have Your Tedium Rare or Medium"

I myself am fortunate that I have many interesting thoughts
Which I express in terms that make them come alive
And I certainly would entertain my friends if they always
Didn't have to leave just when I arrive

"The Porcupine"

Any hound a porcupine nudges
Can't be blamed for harbouring grudges
I know one hound that laughed all winter
At a porcupine that sat on a splinter

"The Lion"

Oh, weep for Mr. and Mrs. Bryan
He was eaten by a lion
Following which, the lion's lioness
Up and swallowed Bran's Bryaness

"Caution To Everybody"

Consider the auk
Becoming extinct because he forgot to fly, and could only walk
Consider man, who may well become extinct
Because he forgot to walk and learned to fly before he thinked

"The Fly"

God, in his wisdom
Invented the fly
And then forgot
To tell us why


How wise I am to have instructed the butler to instruct the
first footman to instruct the second footman to instruct
the doorman to order my carriage;
I am about to volunteer a definition of marriage.
Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen,
I know that marriage is a legal and religious alliance entered
into by a man who can't sleep with the window shut and
a woman who can't sleep with the window open.
Moreover just as I am unsure of the difference between flora
and fauna and flotsam and jetsam
I am quite sure that marriage is the alliance of two people one
of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never
And he refuses to believe there is a leak in the water pipe or
the gas pipe and she is convinced she is about to asphyxiate
or drown,
And she says Quick get up and get my hairbrushes off the
window sill, it's raining in, and he replies Oh they're all
right, it's only raining straight down.
That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce,
Because it's the only known example of the happy meeting of
the immovable object and the irresistible force.
So I hope husbands and wives will continue to debate and
combat over everything debatable and combatable,
Because I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life,
particularly if he has income and she is pattable.


If you thirst to know who said, "I think,therefore I am,"
your thirst I will quench;
It was Rene Descartes, only what he actually said was,
"Je pense, donc je suis," because he was French.
He also said in Latin, "Cogito, Ergo sum,"
Just to show that he was a man of culture and not a tennis tramp
or a crackle barrel philosophy bum.

Descartes was one of those who think, therefore they are,
Because those who donot think, but are anyhow, outnumber them by far.
If of chaos we are on the brink
It is because so many people think that they think.
In truth, of anything other than thinking they are fonder.

Because thought requires the time and effort to reflect, cogitate,
contemplate, meditate, ruminate and ponder.
Their minds are exposed to events and ideas but they have
never pondered or reflected on them
Any more than motion picture screens meditate on the images that
are projected on them.

Hence our universal confusion.
The result of the unreasoned, or jumped at, conclusion.
People who think that they think, they secretly think that
thinking is grim.
And they excuse themselves with signs reading THIMK, or, as
Descartes would have said, PEMSEZ, and THINK or THWIM.

Instead of thoughts, they act on hunches and inklings,
Which are not thoughts at all, only thinklings.
Can it be because we leave to the Russians such dull pursuits as
thinking that the red star continues to twinkle so?
I thinkle so.

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Holden Caulfield, New Delhi, INDIA