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Very Like A Whale

One thing that Literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and 
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to 
   go out of their way to say it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
However, as so many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and 
   thus hinder longevity,
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts  were 
   gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a 
   wolf on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy 
   there are great many things,
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple 
   and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was 
   actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red 
   mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof woof?
Frankly I think it very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say, 
   at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian 
   cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he 
   had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers 
   to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of 
   wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets, 
   from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket 
   after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of 
   snow and  I'll  sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical 
   blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

by Ogden Nash