By Ogden Nash
Video of Poem
THIS IS GOING TO HURT JUST A LITTLE BIT
PREPARED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVANDRUM
The poet says that the least liked thing in his life is sitting in a chair near a dentist with his mouth wide open. While sitting there he nurses the hope against all hopes that he will never again visit a dentist.
The poet recollects that some tortures are physical while some others are mental. The tortures at the
dentist are both physical and mental. When we sit with our jaw touching our chest, it is difficult to be cool.
You cannot remain calm. With the nerve racking pains your fingernails may be making serious changes in your lines like life line and love line in your palm.
It is difficult to put a cheerful disposition on your face because this is one of the two or three
embarrassing situations in life.
Your mouth seems to be a road under construction. It is all piled up with stone crushers, concrete
mixers, drills and steam rollers. Every nerve in your head feels the pain and irritation of being worked upon.
In the case of some unfortunate people, the dentist examines using their thumbs and while for some
others this is being done on their gums.
It seems that your teeth are imagined to be polished while the conditions there make you believe that the dentist is destroying them. When the dentist uses a mirror, the situation becomes more frightening. The dentist appears to be a bear. He takes his crowbar on one hand and mirror on other hand, there is every chance to get mixed up. It is like setting right the bow tie using a mirror and confusing between left and right.
Finally the dentist says that it is all finished. Actually it is not finished. Coating from cellar to roof
remains. The coating as doubted by the poet may be with what is used to put a shine on a horse’s hoof.
After the painful process, you walk unsteadily and become relieved that after all it is over by now and it is only for once. But the dentist tells you to come back after three months. The poet calls it as the fate to be involved in this vicious circle. The Man has to go to the dentist quite often not to keep his teeth in good condition. But he has to keep his teeth in good condition so that he won’t have to go to the dentist.
Frederic Ogden Nash, the American poet is reputed for his humorous poems. The poem “This is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit” presents in a humorous way the poet’s experience while sitting in a dentist’s chair. There are ever so many painful or awkward or embarrassing situations in our lives. But it is our attitude or our way of looking at it which determines its gravity. Reading between the lines, this is the theme of the poem. Treatment for dental problems is a painful process. It involves both physical and mental torture. Every nerve in our head gets hurt during the process. This experience is the least liked experience in the poet’s life. After the long and strenuous process he feels that any way this is the last time he visits the dentist. But to his utter disappointment and agony the dentist asks him to come after three months. Hence the poet calls it as the fate to be involved in this vicious circle. The Man has to go to the dentist quite often not to keep his teeth in good condition. But he has to keep his teeth in good condition so that he won’t have to go to the dentist. The theme is noted for its relevance though the treatment of this theme is a unique one.
Frederic Ogden Nash, the American poet is reputed for his humorous poems. The poem “This is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit” presents in a humorous way the poet’s experience while sitting in a dentist’s chair. Humour adds to the spice of life. It relieves the tension and reduces the stress and strain. Even unpleasant experiences lose its gloom and gravity when it is viewed in a humorous perspective. This way of looking at things adds years to our life enhancing physical and emotional well being. The poet’s message is obvious. We are forced to go to the dentist and undergo the painful and embarrassing situations in his chair. But we have to suffer the same with an attitude which eases the tension and which makes it lighter.
The tone of the poem is light and humorous. But the subject and theme have depth. The lighter tone
makes the poem wonderful and enjoyable.
The poem abounds in many poetic devices like figures of speech, consonance, rhyme and rhythm. The poet creates comic effect with the use of deliberately misspelt words. The words ‘hopen’, ‘monce’ add to the humour of the poem. Moreover the words are thus used to rhyme with the ending words in the previous lines. Thus the poetic technique of consonance is employed throughout the poem. The graphic presentation of the experience is made more vivid with the help of visual images. There is simile in the comparison of mouth with a section of road that is being worked on. There is exaggeration in the line which refers to the serious alterations made in the lines in the palm due to the pain. Another example for exaggeration is in the line ‘he then coats your mouth from cellar to roof’. Metaphor is used when the dentist is compared with a bear. When the poet calls Fate, fate is personified. Another poetic device used here is Apostrophe.
The poet says that Man has to go to the dentist quite often not to keep his teeth in good condition. But he has to keep his teeth in good condition so that he won’t have to go to the dentist. Here there is irony. Humour is the most important technique the poet has used. The line ‘Because some tortures are physical and some are mental/But the one that is both is dental’ is the most humorous line.
All the poetic devices add to the humour which in turn makes the poem a wonderful read.
The title of the poem This is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit indicates the theme and topic of the poem. The unpleasant experience when we sit in a dentist chair begins with the doctor giving us a warning about the little bit of physical pain which he creates in us. The title is suggestive of the humour embedded in the poem. This is an indication that the poet treats an unpleasant experience in an unusual perspective. Hence the title is apt and appropriate.
PREPARED BY SAJEENA SHUKKOOR, HSST (ENGLISH), TRIVANDRUM