What is night will soon be day.

Ogden Nash makes me rejoice in the English language as it presents itself to his peculiar, playful mind. I liked this galloping poem, and won’t argue with it, because that’s not what humor is for. But I will say that the line I chose for the title of my post led me from laughing to silent theologizing…

TIME MARCHES ON

You ask me, brothers, why I flinch.
Well, I will tell you, inch by inch.
Is it not proper cause for fright
That what is day will soon be night?
Evenings I flinch the selfsame way,
For what is night will soon be day.
At five o’clock it chills my gore
Simply to know it isn’t four.
How Sunday into Monday melts!
And every month is something else.
If Summer on the ladder lingers,
Autumn tramples upon her fingers,
Fleeing before the jostling train
Of Winter, and Spring, and Summer again.
Year swallows year and licks its lips,
Then down the gullet of next year slips.
We chip at time with clocks and watches;
We flee him in love and double scotches;
Even as we scatter in alarm
He marches with us, arm in arm;
Though while we sleep, he forward rides,
Yet when we wake, he’s at our sides.
Let men walk straight or let them err,
He never leaves them as they were.
While ladies draw their stockings on
The ladies they were are up and gone.
I pen my lines, I finish, I scan them,
I’m not the poet who began them.
Each moment Time, the lord of changers,
Stuffs our skins with ephemeral strangers.
Good heavens, how remote from me
The billion people I used to be!
Flinch with me, brothers, why not flinch,
Shirts caught in the eternal winch?
Come, let us flinch till Time stands still;
Although I do not think he will.
Hark, brothers, to the dismal proof:
The seconds spattering on the roof!

-Ogden Nash

10 thoughts on “What is night will soon be day.

  1. A great amount of insight and truth packed into this playful yet sobering poem. My favorite line…”Let men walk straight or let them err,
    He never leaves them as they were.”

    Like

  2. I think I do have to slow down at “flinch” — but it feels to me that Nash was resigned to aging.
    I just got a book of his letters compiled by his daughter, and he seems awfully good natured about everything…

    Like

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