Saturday, July 16, 2011


Scratch a Sluggard, and Find a Saint

Ogden Nash, A Plea for a League of Sleep, in I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1943), pp. 275-276:
Some people lead a feverish life,
For they with restlessness are rife.
They revel in labors energetic,
Their fare is healthful and ascetic,
Their minds are keen, their hands are earthy,
Each day they work on something worthy.
Something accomplished, something done,
Comprises their idea of fun.

My life with joy is sometimes fraught,
But mostly when I'm doing naught.
Yea, I could spend my whole career
A pillow underneath my ear.
How wise was he who wittily said
That there is nothing like a bed.
A mattress is what I like to creep on;
The left side is the one I sleep on.

Heroes who moil and toil and fight
Exist on eight hours' sleep a night.
I call this but a miserly budget,
Yet I assure you that they grudge it.
I've heard them groan, times without number,
At wasting a third of their lives in slumber.
All right, you Spartans who build and delve,
You waste eight hours, and I'll waste twelve.

No honester man is to be found
Than he who sleeps the clock around.
Of malice and ambition free,
The more he sleeps, the sleepier he.
No plots and schemes infest his head,
But dreams of getting back to bed.
His spirit bears no worldly taint;
Scratch a sluggard, and find a saint.

Stalin and Hitler while they sleep
Are harmless as a baby sheep;
Tyrants who cause the earth to quake
Are only dangerous when awake.
This world would be a happier place,
And happier the human race,
And all our pilots be less Pontius
If people spent more time unconscious.
Charles Spencelayh, Forty Winks

Related posts:Work and Leisure; Praise of Laziness; Lazy Man's Song; Exquisite Pregnant Idleness; How Can I Work?; Dolce Far Niente; Weekdays of Unfreedom; Idleness and Business; Archilochus on the Idle Life; Idleness.

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