The Perfect Words, Chosen

Posted on August 16, 2011 by


These deceptively simple words convey this narrator’s personality, his turn of phrase, his outlook on life, even his hobbies. I think the narrator here is Nash himself, given his age at the time the poem was written and the various literary and publishing references (SHRDLU, for example). Notice also Nash’s attention to rhythm and rhyme. This poem is a brilliant example of how careful and concise word choice can say volumes more than effluent physical description.


Peekaboo, I Almost See You

— Ogden Nash

Middle-aged life is merry, and I love to lead it,
But there comes a day when your eyes are all right but your arm isn’t
long enough to hold the telephone book where you can read it,
And your friends get jocular, so you go to the oculist,
And of all your friends he is the joculist,
So over his facetiousness let us skim,
Only noting that he has been waiting for you ever since you said
Good evening to his grandfather clock under the impression that
it was him,
And you look at his chart and it says SHRDLU QWERTYOP, and
you say Well, why SHRDNTLU QWERTYOP? and he says
one set of glasses won’t do.
You need two,
One for reading Erle Stanley Gardner’s Perry Mason and Keats’s “Endymion” with,
And the other for walking around without saying Hello to strange wymion with.
So you spend your time taking off your seeing glasses to put on your
reading glasses, and then remembering that your reading glasses
are upstairs or in the car,
And then you can’t find your seeing glasses again because without
them on you can’t see where they are.
Enough of such mishaps, they would try the patience of an ox,
I prefer to forget both pairs of glasses and pass my declining years
saluting strange women and grandfather clocks.

Posted in: Books & Writing