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Write a critical appreciation of the poem referring to the theme, the tone of the poem, and the poetic devices used in it.

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The poem “This is Going to Hurt Just a Little Bit” is a very funny poem by Ogden Nash. It describes the feeling of a person going to a dentist. Going to a dentist is really a very unpleasant experience. Sitting in a dentist chair with one’s mouth wide open is not something that anyone likes. Some tortures and physical and some are mental but the dental torture has both.

It is difficult to be in self control, when your jaw is down into your chest. Your fingernails are scratching your palm making serious changes in your life line, love line or some other important line. You are in a position which lacks dignity. Your mouth is like a section of the road on which repair work is going on. It is all cluttered up with stone, crushers and concrete mixers and drills and steam rollers. All the nerves in your head are affected.

Your teeth are supposed to get polished. But you think they are demolished. What terries you more is that it is done with a mirror. The dentist looks like a bear. He takes a crow bar in one hand and a mirror in the other. How can we be sure he won’t make a mistake? Because in the mirror the left is right and the right is left. When we try to tie a bow tie with the aid of a mirror we tend to get mixed up. Will the doctor pull out the wrong tooth? Finally he coats the mouth with some harsh polishing stuff. 

The shock comes when he says we should go back to him before the end of three months. The poet feels that Fate sends this most vicious circle to man. Man has to go to the dentist continually to keep his teeth in good condition. The man wants his teeth in good condition because he does not want to go to the dentist. It is a real paradox.

The poet has used simile, metaphor and personification very effectively. The dentist is called a bear. The instrument used by the dentist is called a crowbar. The polishing of the teeth is compared to the polishing of a horse’s hoof and we see the patient tottering to his feet, like a drunkard. There are many exaggerations also in the poem: The patient’s jaw digs into his chest. His fingernails are making serious alterations in his life line, love line or some other important line in his palm. There isn’t a nerve in his head that he isn’t being irked on. His teeth are supposed to be polished but they are demolished. The dentist takes his crowbar in one hand and mirror in the other. The dentist polishes the mouth as if he is polishing a horse’s roof.

Ogden Nash is fond of misspelling words. This he does for pun or some funny effect. Thus we see words like “hopen” and “sentest”. Ursa is a Latin word and ‘thou’ is the Old English form for ‘you’. The poem does not have regular stanzas. It is in free verse. It has ne rhythm and we nd rhyme in it. Open-hopen, mental-dental, calm- palm, benignity-dignity etc. are some of the examples. 

Nash has tried to nake a painful situation into a light one. When we go to the dentist next time, we can feel more relaxed as we realize that the feelings we get when in the dentist chair are very similar to all the others who have to visit the dentist. We all want our teeth to be clean so that we don’t have to go to a dentist. And the paradox is that to keep our teeth clean we have to go to the dentist. Nash has put it in a nice way.

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