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Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man -- Ogden Nash

(Poem #402) Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man
It is common knowledge to every schoolboy 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 that 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 bad in the eyes of all right-thinking people, from
        Billy Sunday to Buddha,
And it consists of not having done something you shuddha.
I might as well give you my opinion of 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 the 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 really get painfully bitten
Is by the insurance you haven't taken out and the checks you haven't added up
        the stubs of and the appointments you haven't kept and the bills you
        haven't paid 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 or night every
        time you neglected to do your duty;
You didn't get a wicked forbidden thrill
Every time you let a policy lapse or forget to pay a bill;
You didn't slap the lads in the tavern on the back and loudly cry Whee,
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 things you haven't done,
But they are the things that 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, remember to do it by doing rather than by not doing.
-- Ogden Nash
... there's not a whole lot I could profitably say about this poem (except that
(obviously) I like it), so I won't.


PS. But I will leave you with this


We've been talking of parodies lately, so...

        This is either a fine piece of verse in the true tradition of Nash,
        Or trash.

... written by none other than our very own Martin DeMello. Who'd have thunk it?

34 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

mallika said...

And then there is the Mad parody of Ogden Nash:

"I've often thought my poems would be neater
If, in addition to rhyme, they had some trace of rhythm, what I mean to say is,
But when you write for Playboy and magazines of that ilk, they want you to do it
And if you send them good old-fashioned poetry, they reject it absolutely"


sikkimkrishna said...

the poems on minstrels make my day.
frank krishner

Mbassuk said...

not sure this is how I write you back,
but for laughs alone, this poem
was worth the price of admission.

Thanks for being on my screen,

Tammera Parham said...

My father read this poem in his toast at my wedding. What subtle or not so
subtle message do you suppose he was trying to get across?

MJZMOI said...

Is there any particular reason for this website’s aberrant spelling of “
Ogden” as “Odgen”?

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planetharga said...

If it is felt more, so many more types of sins that have accidentally been done and it was feared.

Good article, makes me realize the true meaning of sin.

Thank you

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