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Very Like A Whale Analysis



Author: poem of Ogden Nash Type: poem Views: 19

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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.






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