How wise I am to have instructed the butler
to instruct the first footman to instruct the second
footman to instruct the doorman to order my carriage;
I am about to volunteer a definition of marriage.
Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen,
I know that marriage is a legal and religious alliance entered
into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut and a
woman who can’t sleep with the window open.
Moreover, just as I am unsure of the difference between
flora and fauna and flotsam and jetsam,
I am quite sure that marriage is the alliance of two people
one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other
never forgetsam,
And he refuses to believe there is a leak in the water pipe or
the gas pipe and she is convinced she is about to asphyxiate
or drown,
And she says Quick get up and get my hairbrushes off the
windowsill, it’s raining in, and he replies Oh they’re all right,

it’s only raining straight down.
That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce,
Because it’s the only known example of the happy meeting of
the immovable object and the irresistible force.
So I hope husbands and wives will continue to debate and
combat over everything debatable and combatable,
Because I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life,
particularly if he has income and she is pattable.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ogden Nash's poem I Do, I Will, I Have

2 Comments

  1. Rose says:

    You’re missing a good 15 lines to that poem and some changed words, it goes like this:

    How wise I am to have instructed the butler
    to instruct the first footman to instruct the second
    footman to instruct the doorman to order my carriage;
    I am about to volunteer a definition of marriage.
    Just as I know that there are two Hagens, Walter and Copen,
    I know that marriage is a legal and religious alliance entered into by a man who can’t sleep with the window shut and a woman who can’t sleep with the window open,
    Also he can’t sleep until he has read the last hundred
    pages to find out whether his suspicions of the
    murdered eccentric recluse’s avaricious secretary
    were right,
    And she can’t sleep until he puts out the light,
    Which when he finally does she is still awake and turns on hers,
    And if he thinks she’s going to turn it off before she finds out whether Janis marries the shy young clergyman or the sophisticated polo player, he errs.
    Moreover, just as I am unsure of the difference between
    flora and fauna and flotsam and jetsam,
    I am quite sure that marriage is the alliance of two people one of whom never remembers birthdays and the other never forgetsam,
    And the one refuses to believe there is a leak in the water pipe or the gas pipe and she is convinced she is about to asphyxiate or drown,
    And the other says Quick get up and get my hairbrushes off the windowsill, it’s raining in, and the one replies Oh they’re all right, it’s only raining straight down.
    That is why marriage is so much more interesting than divorce,
    Because it’s the only known example of the happy meeting of the immovable object and the irresistible force.
    So I hope husbands and wives will continue to debate and combat over everything debatable and combatable,
    Because I believe a little incompatibility is the spice of life, particularly if he has income and she is pattable.

  2. Yvon says:

    Several possible reasons apply,
    To why the copyright holder
    Chooses to deny us benefit
    Of reading Nash words with
    Even one eye.

    Is it the commercial medium
    That exploits rich words
    With such tedium?
    Is it a marketing tool of
    Restraint,
    That summons us readers
    To varried complaint,
    Once interest booms,
    OOOH!
    THEN!
    Is when the cash registers
    And the retailers
    Will swoon
    With glee
    at all the
    Newly got
    Money…
    Due to
    Posted words
    Between You
    and I.

Leave a Reply to Yvon Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Ogden Nash better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.