Very Like a WhaleOne thing that literature would be greatly the better forWould be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor.Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,Can'ts seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but haveto go out of their way to say that it is like something else.What foes it mean when we are toldThat the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experienceTo know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lotof Assyrians.However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity,We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolfon the fold?In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy thereare a great many things,But i don't imagine that among then there is a wolf with purpleand gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big redmouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof woof?Frankly I think it very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,at the very most,Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he hadto invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolatethem,With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiersto people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lotof wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,from Homer to Tennyson;They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanketafter a winter storm.Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanketof snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoeticalblanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly,What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.
There is one thing that ought to be taught in all the colleges,Which is that people ought to be taught not to go around always making apologies.I don't mean the kind of apologies people make when they run over you or borrow five dollars or step on your feet,Because I think that is sort of sweet;No, I object to one kind of apology alone,Which is when people spend their time and yours apologizing for everything they own.You go to their house for a meal,And they apologize because the anchovies aren't caviar or the partridge is veal;They apologize privately for the crudeness of the other guests,And they apologize publicly for their wife's housekeeping or their husband's jests;If they give you a book by Dickens they apologize because it isn't by Scott,And if they take you to the theater, they apologize for the acting and the dialogue and the plot;They contain more milk of human kindness than the most capacious diary can,But if you are from out of town they apologize for everything local and if you are a foreigner they apologize for everything American.I dread these apologizers even as I am depicting them,I shudder as I think of the hours that must be spend in contradicting them,Because you are very rude if you let them emerge from an argument victorious,And when they say something of theirs is awful, it is your duty to convince them politely that it is magnificent and glorious,And what particularly bores me with them,Is that half the time you have to politely contradict them when you rudely agree with them,So I think there is one rule every host and hostess ought to keep with the comb and nail file and bicarbonate and aromatic spirits on a handy shelf,Which is don't spoil the denouement by telling the guests everything is terrible, but let them have the thrill of finding it out for themselves.
Unwillingly Miranda wakes,Feels the sun with terror,One unwilling step she takes,Shuddering to the mirror.Miranda in Miranda's sightIs old and gray and dirty;Twenty-nine she was last night;This morning she is thirty.Shining like the morning star,Like the twilight shining,Haunted by a calendar,Miranda is a-pining.Silly girl, silver girl,Draw the mirror toward you;Time who makes the years to whirlAdorned as he adored you.Time is timelessness for you;Calendars for the human;What's a year, or thirty, toLoveliness made woman?Oh, Night will not see thirty again,Yet soft her wing, Miranda;Pick up your glass and tell me, then--How old is Spring, Miranda?
We Don't Need to Leave Yet, Do We? Or, Yes We DoOne kind of person when catching a train always wants to allow an hour to cover the ten-block trip to the terminus, And the other kind looks at them as if they were verminous, And the second kind says that five minutes is plenty and will even leave one minute over for buying the tickets, And the first kind looks at them as if they had cerebral rickets. One kind when theater-bound sups lightly at six and hastens off to the play, And indeed I know one such person who is so such that it frequently arrives in time for the last act of the matinee, And the other kind sits down at eight to a meal that is positively sumptuous, Observing cynically that an eight-thirty curtain never rises till eight-forty, an observation which is less cynical than bumptious. And what the first kind, sitting uncomfortably in the waiting room while the train is made up in the yards, can never understand, Is the injustice of the second kind's reaching their scat just as the train moves out, just as they had planned,And what the second kind cannot understand as they stumble over the first kind's heel just as the footlights flash on at last Is that the first kind doesn't feel the least bit foolish at having entered the theater before the cast. Oh, the first kind always wants to start now and the second kind always wants to tarry, Which wouldn't make any difference, except that each other is what they always marry.