Friday, April 28, 2006

Things that amuse me--or the pun is the lowest form

I love puns. I love Ogden Nash. I went to the Boston Public Library today which is like going to a candy store for me. I'm one of the only people I know who can successfully browse the Library of Congress filing system--worked in my town library as a teenager (Dewey Decimal) and college Library (P's are for literature, by country, not type, so English poetry is next to English plays). I have to stop myself in libraries or I'll check out more than I can carry home. I had to limit myself to 5 today, putting some poetry back on the shelf, not even picking up the big book on Chanel. I HAVE TOO MANY INTERESTS--it's like I have $5 in a thousand mutual funds--I'm definitely not in any danger, but I'm not accumulating anything either.
Anyway, one of the odd little treasures I picked up was by Richard Wilbur, the poet and translator of Moliere. As a side note here--I went to a really good college which I say with the Groucho Marx caveat, "How good could it be, it let me in..." Har, har. Ah, the self-depreciating humor of the low self-esteemed. But the fun thing about going to a small ivy is that you have a disproportionate number of famous alumnae. Richard Wilbur went to my college. Robert Frost taught there (obviously before my time). Uma Thurman's father taught there--big yip! Actually I'm told he was a great teacher. SO ANYWAY... found this funny little book of Richard Wilbur's sillier poems called "Opposites" from a game he used to play with his kids where you said a word and people tried to come up with the opposite of it--like the opposite of nuts, or mirror. They are illustrated with Thurberesque illustrations and if I get a chance I'll scan some on Monday to add. These are my favorites:

What is the opposite of riot?
It's lots of people keeping quiet


The opposite of doughnut? Wait
A minute while I meditate.
This isn't easy. Ah, I've found it!
A cookie with a hole around it.

The opposite of a cloud could be
A white reflection in the sea,
Or a huge blueness in the air,
Caused by a cloud's not being there.

And my favorite favorite:

There's more than one way to be right
About the opposite of white,
And those who merely answer black
Are very, very single-track.
They make one want to scream, "I beg
Your pardon, but within an egg
(A fact known to the simplest folk)
The opposite of white is yolk!"

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