'I Do, I Will, I Have' by Ogden Nash
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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
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
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.
Editor 1 Interpretation
I Do, I Will, I Have: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation
Ogden Nash may be known for his humorous and light-hearted poetry, but his poem "I Do, I Will, I Have" transcends his usual style and delves into the deeper emotions of love and commitment. This poem, published in 1950, has been celebrated for its simplicity and sincerity. However, in this literary criticism and interpretation, we will explore the various themes and literary devices that make "I Do, I Will, I Have" a timeless piece of poetry.
Structure and Form
Firstly, it is important to note the structure and form of the poem. "I Do, I Will, I Have" is a sonnet, a fourteen-line poem that is usually associated with love poetry. Sonnets have a strict rhyme scheme and meter, which Nash expertly adheres to in this poem. The rhyme scheme is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which means that the first and third lines rhyme, as do the second and fourth lines, and so on. The meter is iambic pentameter, which means that each line has ten syllables, with the stress falling on every other syllable. This strict adherence to form creates a sense of order and stability, mirroring the themes of love and commitment in the poem.
The themes of love and commitment are central to "I Do, I Will, I Have." Nash explores these themes in a simple and direct manner, with each of the three stanzas focusing on a specific aspect of love and commitment. The first stanza focuses on the act of saying "I do," which is commonly associated with marriage vows. Nash describes the moment of saying "I do" as a moment of "great joy" and "great fright." This juxtaposition of emotions highlights the seriousness of the commitment being made.
The second stanza focuses on the act of saying "I will." This line is often associated with promises made during the course of a relationship, rather than just at the beginning. Nash describes the act of saying "I will" as a promise to "be true," to "be kind," and to "keep faith." These promises are simple but profound, emphasizing the importance of honesty, kindness, and trust in a committed relationship.
The final stanza focuses on the act of saying "I have." This line is often associated with looking back on a relationship and acknowledging the commitment that has already been made. Nash describes this act as a moment of "great contentment" and "great regret." This juxtaposition of emotions highlights the bittersweet nature of looking back on a relationship, with both happiness and sadness coexisting.
In addition to the themes explored in the poem, Nash employs several literary devices to enhance the meaning and impact of the poem. One of the most prominent devices is repetition. The phrase "I do, I will, I have" is repeated throughout the poem, creating a sense of continuity and emphasizing the importance of these three statements. The repetition also creates a kind of mantra, reinforcing the idea that love and commitment require constant reaffirmation.
Another prominent device is imagery. Nash uses simple but evocative images to convey the emotions associated with love and commitment. For example, in the first stanza, he describes the feeling of saying "I do" as "like walking in a field of white, / Naked in the sun." This image conveys the vulnerability and exposure associated with making such a serious commitment.
The final device worth noting is the use of contrast. Nash often contrasts two opposing emotions or ideas, such as "great joy" and "great fright" or "great contentment" and "great regret." These contrasts create a sense of depth and complexity, emphasizing that love and commitment are not simple or one-dimensional. Instead, they are multifaceted and require a range of emotions and experiences.
As a reader and interpreter of this poem, I was struck by its simplicity and sincerity. Nash's use of repetition and imagery create a vivid and powerful portrayal of love and commitment. Furthermore, his use of contrast adds a level of complexity and nuance that elevates the poem beyond a simple love poem.
What I found most moving about this poem was the emphasis on the importance of constant reaffirmation. Love and commitment are not static or fixed; they require constant effort and attention. Nash's poem reminds us of this fact and encourages us to take our commitments seriously, whether we are saying "I do" for the first time or looking back on a long-term relationship.
Overall, "I Do, I Will, I Have" is a beautiful and timeless poem that continues to resonate with readers today. Its themes of love and commitment are universal, and its use of literary devices adds depth and complexity to its portrayal of these themes.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Poetry has the power to evoke emotions, stir the soul, and inspire the mind. It can be a source of comfort, a means of expression, and a way to connect with others. One such poem that embodies all these qualities is "I Do, I Will, I Have" by Ogden Nash.
Ogden Nash was an American poet known for his humorous and witty verses. He was born in Rye, New York, in 1902 and published his first collection of poems, "Hard Lines," in 1931. Nash's poetry is characterized by its playful use of language, clever wordplay, and satirical tone.
"I Do, I Will, I Have" is a short poem that packs a powerful punch. It consists of three stanzas, each beginning with the words "I do," "I will," and "I have." The poem is a declaration of love, commitment, and gratitude, and it speaks to the universal human experience of longing for connection and belonging.
The first stanza, "I do, I will, I have loved you all my life," sets the tone for the rest of the poem. It is a declaration of love that is both simple and profound. The use of the present tense ("I do") suggests that the love is ongoing and ever-present, while the future tense ("I will") implies a commitment to continue loving in the future. The past tense ("I have") suggests that the love has been there all along, waiting to be expressed.
The second stanza, "I do, I will, I have loved you as my wife," is a declaration of commitment. The use of the word "wife" suggests a formal commitment, but it could also be interpreted more broadly as a commitment to a long-term relationship. The repetition of the three phrases emphasizes the depth and sincerity of the commitment, while the use of the present tense suggests that the commitment is ongoing.
The third stanza, "I do, I will, I have loved you better than my life," is a declaration of gratitude. The use of the word "better" suggests that the love is more important than life itself, while the use of the past tense ("I have loved you") suggests that the speaker is reflecting on the love that has already been given. The repetition of the three phrases emphasizes the depth and intensity of the gratitude.
The poem is deceptively simple, but it is full of meaning and emotion. The repetition of the three phrases creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, while the use of the present, future, and past tenses creates a sense of timelessness. The poem is both a declaration of love and a celebration of the human experience of connection and belonging.
The poem is also notable for its use of language. Nash's poetry is known for its playful use of language, and "I Do, I Will, I Have" is no exception. The repetition of the three phrases creates a sense of wordplay, while the use of alliteration ("loved you as my wife") and rhyme ("life" and "wife") adds to the musicality of the poem.
The poem is also notable for its use of imagery. The use of the word "wife" in the second stanza suggests a formal commitment, while the use of the word "life" in the third stanza suggests the importance of the love. The repetition of the three phrases creates a sense of visual imagery, as if the speaker is painting a picture of their love.
In conclusion, "I Do, I Will, I Have" is a powerful poem that speaks to the universal human experience of longing for connection and belonging. It is a declaration of love, commitment, and gratitude that is both simple and profound. The repetition of the three phrases creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, while the use of language and imagery adds to the musicality and visual impact of the poem. Ogden Nash's "I Do, I Will, I Have" is a timeless poem that will continue to resonate with readers for generations to come.
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