This is just going to hurt a little bit

April 26, 2006 at 8:53 am | Posted in Poems | 15 Comments

Got stuck in chicken and egg situation at work and just could not resist thinking about vicious circles and this poem by Nash. Was always fascinated by it from the time I first came across this in Class VII or VIII. It is funny that the most obscure of things could make you think about something as wonderful as this and along with the poem a whole lot of nostalgia about when you actually came across it first. Ah! those were the days.

This is just going to hurt a little bit

One thing I like less than most things is sitting in a dentist chair with
my mouth wide open.
And that I will never have to do it again is a hope that I am against hope hopen.

Because some tortures are physical and some are mental,
But the one that is both is dental.
It is hard to be self-possessed
With your jaw digging into your chest.

So hard to retain your calm
When your fingernails are making serious alterations in your life line
or love line or some other important line in your palm;

So hard to give your usual effect of cheery benignity
When you know your position is one of the two or three in life
most lacking in dignity.

And your mouth is like a section of road that is being worked on.
And it is all cluttered up with stone crushers and concrete mixers and
drills and steam rollers and there isn't a nerve in your head that
you aren't being irked on.

Oh, some people are unfortunate enough to be strung up by thumbs.
And others have things done to their gums,
And your teeth are supposed to be being polished,
But you have reason to believe they are being demolished.
And the circumstance that adds most to your terror
Is that it's all done with a mirror,
Because the dentist may be a bear, or as the Romans used to say, only
they were referring to a feminine bear when they said it, an ursa,
But all the same how can you be sure when he takes his crowbar in one
hand and mirror in the other he won't get mixed up, the way you
do when you try to tie a bow tie with the aid of a mirror, and forget
that left is right and vice versa?

And then at last he says That will be all; but it isn't because he then
coats your mouth from cellar to roof
With something that I suspect is generally used to put a shine on a
horse's hoof.

And you totter to your feet and think. Well it's all over now and after
all it was only this once.
And he says come back in three monce.
And this, O Fate, is I think the most vicious circle that thou ever sentest, That Man has to go continually to the dentist to keep his teeth in good
condition when the chief reason he wants his teeth in good condition
is so that he won't have to go to the dentist.

– Ogden Nash


Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat.
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."
~Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland



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  1. Oh wow, I remember this one too! This also brought back memories of my English teacher who was an Anglo-Indian in her late-40s. Mrs. Harrison, that was her name, was very short tempered and that was enough to make us try and finish homework for English before any other subject đŸ™‚

  2. He he… am glad that you remember this one….

  3. I remember the song from the title :-). mustaine growling away to glory. The song, incidentally, was used as a BGM on NFL broadcasts.

  4. hehe – i remember this one….we spent the better part of our term discussing the famous vicious circle and how ‘one does things to avoid doing that thing’!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

  5. Hey, you have a great blog here! I’m definitely going to bookmark you!

  6. Dood,
    I didnt know about this blog of yours..
    Amazing read. Keep writing.

  7. Hey.. So nice to read these poems again!! i recollect “This is going to hurt a little bit” and “If”!

  8. Here is another fav one –

  9. Absolutely… thanks for the link! Love Jabberwocky and the Walrus as well.

  10. I don’t usually reply to posts but I will in this case, great info…I will add a backlink and bookmark your site. Keep up the good work!

    I’m Out! đŸ™‚

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  13. […] the dentist as such. I had been transported to a dentist’s chair through Ogden Nash’s This is just going to hurt a little bit – a terrific poem that scares you from ever going to a dentist. It scared me alright! When I […]

  14. […] did I know that I would be writing a post on taking care of teeth when I first came across the poem This is just going to hurt a little bit. Ogden Nash describes sitting mouth wide open on a dentist’s chair as physical and mental […]

  15. […] did I know that I would be writing a post on taking care of teeth when I first came across the poem This is just going to hurt a little bit. Ogden Nash describes sitting mouth wide open on a dentist’s chair as physical and mental […]

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