Geniuses of countless nations

Today’s poem is from Ogden Nash, generally thought of as a comic poet, in which he gently mocks the pretensions of conventional love poetry while recognising that it can be tied to real feelings. And it is a sonnet, so he may be also poking fun at that ubiquitous verse form, very often used for love poems by Shakespeare and many others. The Reprise of the title is a nod to the incredibly long tradition of this kind of thing.

by Ogden Nash

Geniuses of countless nations
Have told their love for generations
Till all their memorable phrases
Are common as goldenrod or daisies.

Their girls have glimmered like the moon,
Or shimmered like a summer moon,
Stood like a lily, fled like a fawn,
Now the sunset, now the dawn,

Here the princess in the tower
There the sweet forbidden flower.
Darling, when I look at you

Every aged phrase is new,
And there are moments when it seems
I’ve married one of Shakespeare’s dreams.

From <;

So the first10 lines mock the countless generations of poets who have trotted out cliched imagery of being in love, but then the revelation comes to the poet in the eleventh line when he actually looks at his loved one and sees that those tired metaphors actually come to life when someone is really in love. So poetry is useful, after all. Pretty neat, that.

The Poetry Dude


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