Friday, October 20, 2006

Friday Poetry: Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash
Portrait of the Artist As a Prematurely Old Man

It is common knowledge to every school boy and even every Bachelor of Arts
That all sin is divided into two parts.
One kind of sin is called a sin of commission, and it is very important,
And it is what you are doing when you are doing something you ortant,
And the other kind of sin is just the opposite and is called a sin of omission and is equally important in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from Billy Sunday to Buddha,
And consists in not having done something you shudda.
I might as well give you my opinion on these two kinds of sin, as long as, in a way, against each other we are pitting them,
And that is, don't bother your head about sins of commission because, however sinful, they must at least be fun or else you wouldn't be committing them.
It is the sin of omission, the second kind of sin,
That lays eggs under your skin.
The way you get really painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven't taken out and the checks you haven't added up the stubs of and the bills you haven't paid and the appointments you haven't kept and the letters you haven't written.
Also, about sins of omission there is one particularly painful lack of beauty,
Namely, it isn't as though it had been a riotous red-letter day every time you neglected to do your duty.
You didn't get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse or forgot to pay a bill,
You didn't slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry, Wheeee,
Let's all fail to write just one more letter before we go home, and this round of unwritten letters is on me.
No, you never get any fun
Out of the things you haven't done,
But they are the things I do not like to be amid,
Because the suitable things you didn't do give you a lot more trouble than the unsuitable things you did.
The moral is that it is probably better not to sin at all, but if some kind of sin you must be pursuing,
Well, make sure to do it by doing rather than not doing.


At 2:44 AM, Anonymous tyromaven said...

Whee Louvre Odgen Nash.

Do you have some of his loveliness?

This particklar pome sounds like a good morning poem for these days, for all of us.

Reminds me of darker lines by Michael Ondaatje in a bit to his daughter--and if you break, break by going out and not in.


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