Wednesday, July 09, 2014

An Ogden Nash poem

from the collection I'm a Stranger Here Myself  (1938).
How Now, Sirrah? Oh, Anyhow 
Oh, sometimes I sit around and think, what would you do if you were up a dark alley and there was Caesar Borgia,
And he was coming torgia,
And brandished a poisoned poniard,
And looked at you like an angry fox looking at the plumpest rooster in a boniard?
Why that would certainly be an adventure,
It would be much more exciting than writing a poem or selling a debenture,
But would you be fascinated,
Or just afraid of being assassinated?
Or suppose you went out dancing some place where you generally dance a lot,
And you jostled somebody accidentally and it turned out to be Sir Lancelot,
And he drew his sword,
Would you say Have at you! or would you say Oh Lord!?
Or what if you were held up by a bandit,
And he told you to hand over your money, would you try to disarm him and turn him over to the police, or would you over just meekly hand it?
What would you do if you were in a luxurious cosmopolitan hotel surrounded by Europeans and Frenchmen,
And a beautiful woman came up to you and asked you to rescue her from some mysterious master mind and his sinister henchmen?
Would you chivalrously make her rescue your personal objective,
Or would you refer her to the house detective?
Yes, and what if you were on trial for murdering somebody whom for the sake of argument we might call Kelly or O'Connor,
And you were innocent but were bound to be convicted unless you told the truth and the truth would tarnish a lady's honor,
Would you elect to die like a gentleman or live like a poltroon,
Or put the whole thing in the hands of an arbitration committee headed by Heywood Broun?
Yes, often as through life I wander,
This is the kind of question I ponder,
And what puzzles me most is why I even bother to ponder when I already know the answer,
Because anybody who won't cross the street till the lights are green would never get far as a Musketeer or a Bengal Lancer.