“The Purist” – A poem by Ogden Nash

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist,
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “a crocodile.”

A typical cruel poem , with a crooked twist. Twist is the name of the protagonist, who is a professor, a conscientious scientist sent to the tropics because he never bungles. When sent to the jungles he never bungles. He is camped on a riverside and surely that is no bungle in the jungle.

Look he never bungles , say the Trustee of the scientific expedition or whatever it is. Twist is not a twisted personality . He is just a conscientious scientist . When one day the guide informed him that his loving bride had been eaten by an alligator, all he was worried about was the identification of the species of the crocodile that had eaten her. The purist that he is he cannot brook linguistic incompetence. There are no alligators in the tropics, only crocodiles. The guide has not got his facts right.

The guide , mixed up about the crocodile species, seems to have been in no particular hurry to inform the scientist about his loving bride’s tragic disappearance in the crocodile’s gastronomy. It was only later that the serious-minded professor is informed about it. May be he was too busy with his scientific pursuits and the guide hesitated to call his attention to this rather routine event in the jungle. That was not a bungle by him. That is how the events turn out. The professor-scientist is language purist. He is mildly concerned about the minor bungle in the identification of the species.

A cruel poem with a crooked twist. Does the inside cruelty not hit you somewhere in the stomach? And you expected to laugh?

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