Ogden Nash, a poet famous for his humorous verse, wrote this poem as a word of advice to husbands. The speaker says that silence is the best policy to keep a marriage harmonious. Not only should the husband admit his mistakes, he should also keep quiet even when he is right about something.
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A Word to Husbands
BY OGDEN NASH
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
Analysis of Nash’s “A Word to Husbands”
Poet Ogden Nash was famous for his short, yet witty comic verse that pack a punch. Even though his poems would be very short in length, there would definitely be that humor element and more practical wisdom than meets the eyes. Another noticeable element in his poetry is its unusual rhyme scheme that adds to the humorous nature of his more than five hundred such bite-sized comic verses. One such poem is “A Word to Husbands”. In this poem, Nash speaks about the relationship dynamics between a married couple.
According to the speaker, there are two ways to keep the love alive in a marriage. Both of these methods apply to the husband. The first one is that whenever the husband is wrong about something, he should come clean and admit his fault. The next is where the poem gets its tiny dose of practical humor.
When the husband is right about something, the speaker advises him to keep quiet about it. Indeed, the reason behind discord in most marriages is unnecessary argument. Traditionally, women have been considered more prone to get agitated or excited about trivial matters. To keep such situations in check, the husband is told in a humorous way not to lose their calm and handle the situation quietly.
There is a clear metaphor used in the poem in the very first two lines. Here, love has been indicated as something of a liquid nature, because it should keep “brimming” in a loving cup.
The marriage should be fulfilled with love, hence it only makes sense that love should be some kind of matter in order to take up space in the life of the couple! Therefore, the speaker’s ultimate advice to the husband is that silence is the best policy.