Friday, January 20, 2006

Where is my Frances?

Poem of the day: Confessions to be Traced on a Birthday Cake by Ogden Nash.

Lots of people are richer than me,
Yet pay a slenderer tax;
Their annual levy seems to wane
While their income seems to wax.
Lots of people have stocks and bonds
To further their romances;
I’ve cashed my ultimate Savings Stamp —
But nobody else has Frances.

Lots of people are stronger than me,
With greater athletic menaces;
They poise like gods on diving boards
And win their golfs and tennises.
Lots of people have lots more grace
And cut fine figures at dances,
While I was born with galoshes on —
But nobody else has Frances.

Lots of people are wiser than me,
And carry within their cranium
The implications of Stein and Joyce
And the properties of uranium.
They know the mileage to every star
In the heaven’s vast expanses;
I’m inclined to believe that the world is flat —
But nobody else has Frances.

Speaking of wisdom and wealth and grace —
As recently I have dared to —
There are lots of people compared to whom
I’d rather not be compared to.
There are people I ought to wish I was;
But under the circumstances,
I prefer to continue my life as me —
For nobody else has Frances.


Falstaff said...

Ya, ya, be subtle about it why don't you. Make sure no one suspects that it's your birthday and all.

As for the Nash, Auden says it so much better:

All the possibilities
It had to reject are
What give life and warmth to
An actual character;
The roots of wit and charm tap
Secret springs of sorrow,
Every brilliant doctor
Hides a murderer.

Then, since all self-knowledge
Tempts man into envy,
May you, by acquiring,
Proficiency in what
Whitehead calls the art of
Negative Prehension,
Love without desiring
All that you are not.

Tao is a tightrope,
So to keep your balance,
May you always, Johnny,
Manage to combine
Intellectual talents
With a sensual gusto,
The Socratic Doubt with
The Socratic Sign.

That is all that I can
Think of at this moment
And it's time I brought these
Verses to a close:
Happy Birthday, Johnny,
Live beyond your income,
Travel for enjoyment,
Follow your own nose.

- W.H. Auden 'Many Happy Returns'

Veena said...

Falstaff: Did you know that was the second time you are quoting the same poem here? Whatever happened to Falstaff's psycho memory - it can't think of some other b'day poem?

And yes, Auden definitely says it much better but the Nash was a not-so-subtle dig aimed at someone who doesn't seem to get the point at all. So much for marriage. :(

Falstaff said...

I have? When? Where? Aaarggghhhh. Great, now it takes other people's birthdays to show me that i'm getting old.

Meanwhile, my sympathies - birthdays are bad enough. Being married is bad enough. But both together - you poor thing.