National Poetry Month: April 2nd

April 2, 2012

Nature Knows Best by Ogden Nash

I don’t know exactly how long ago Hector was a pup,
But it was quite long ago, and even then people used to have
                      to start their day by getting up.
Yes, people have been getting up for centuries,
They have been getting up in palaces and Pullmans and penitentiaries.
One fact for which every historian vouches
Is that every morning in history began
                      with people getting up off their couches.
The caveman had to get up before he could
                      go out and track the Brontosaurus,
Verdi had to get up before he could sit down
                      and compose the Anvil Chorus,
Alexander had to get up before he could go around being dominant,
Even Rip Van Winkle had to get up from one sleep
                       before he could climb the mountain
                                  and encounter the sleep which has made him prominent.
Some got up energetically and some in lassitude’s throes,
And I myself happen to love a lassitude, a bonnie bonnie lassitude,
                      but be that as it may, however they rose, they rose.
Well, birds are descended from birds and
                       flowers are descended from flowers,
And human beings are descended from generation after generation
                       of ancestors who got up at least once
                                  every twenty-four hours,
And because birds are descended from birds they don’t have
                       to be forced to sing like birds instead of like
                                   sextets in an opera,
And because flowers are descended from flowers they don’t have
                       to be forced to smell like flowers instead of
                                  like seaweed or copra,
But you take human beings, why, their countless generations of ancestors
                      who were always arising might just as well have spent
                                  all their lives on their mattresses or pallets,
Because their descendants haven’t inherited any talent
                      for getting up at all.  No, every morning they have
                                 To be forced to get up either by their own conscience or
                                            somebody else’s, or alarm clocks or valets.
Well, there is one obvious conclusion that I have always held to,
Which is that if Nature had really intended human beings
                       to get up, why, they would get up naturally
                                  and wouldn’t have to be compelled to.

This poem was selected by Kathleen L. (Reference Librarian)

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