Guest poem sent in by Anustup Datta
(Poem #325) Common Cold
Go hang yourself, you old M.D,! You shall not sneer at me. Pick up your hat and stethoscope, Go wash your mouth with laundry soap; I contemplate a joy exquisite In not paying you for your visit. I did not call you to be told My malady is a common cold. By pounding brow and swollen lip; By fever's hot and scaly grip; By those two red redundant eyes That weep like woeful April skies; By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff; By handkerchief after handkerchief; This cold you wave away as naught Is the damnedest cold man ever caught! Give ear, you scientific fossil! Here is the genuine Cold Colossal; The Cold of which researchers dream, The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme. This honored system humbly holds The Super-cold to end all colds; The Cold Crusading for Democracy; The Führer of the Streptococcracy. Bacilli swarm within my portals Such as were ne'er conceived by mortals, But bred by scientists wise and hoary In some Olympic laboratory; Bacteria as large as mice, With feet of fire and heads of ice Who never interrupt for slumber Their stamping elephantine rumba. A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth! Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth; Don Juan was a budding gallant, And Shakespeare's plays show signs of talent; The Arctic winter is fairly coolish, And your diagnosis is fairly foolish. Oh what a derision history holds For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!
It is with a great sense of disquiet (and some surprise) that I notice that we haven't yet covered that epitome of comic versification, Ogden Nash. I will not trouble you with a biography of Nash, for everyone has heard of him and read his poetry. Indeed, I consider that my first acquaintance with comic poetry began with his delightful The Cobra The cobra's mouth is filled with venom, He walks upon his duodenum. He who attempts to tease a cobra Is soon a sadder he, and sobra. It progressed through the famous and oft-anthologised "Reflections on Ice-Breaking". His jarringly exact rhymes and biting social satire were only matched by his delightfully human failings and wonderful whimsicality. His celebrated brevity is exemplified in the Reflection On A Wicked World Purity Is obscurity. This is the shortest poem I have ever read - may be the shortest ever written. But the rapier thrust is ever the keener for that. 'Common Cold' is a longer and more substantial poem about a very mundane subject. But what Nash does to it is far from common - with splendid hypochondriac hyperbole, he elevates the everyday cold to Olympian heights. I especially enjoy the last stanza and its withering humour - P G Wodehouse couldn't have done it better - and calling his bacterium 'the Fuhrer of the Streptococcracy' is nothing less than genius. I could go on - but you get the picture. Anustup