Altered Carbon  

Noël Coward and Ogden Nash on Two Ways of Looking at a Party

I've Been to a Marvellous Party
Noël Coward

Quite for no reason
I'm here for the Season
And high as a kite,
Living in error
With Maud at Cap Ferrat
Which couldn't be right.
Everyone's here and frightfully gay,
Nobody cares what people say,
Though the Riviera
Seems really much queerer
Than Rome at its height,
Yesterday night —

I've been to a marvellous party
With Nounou and Nada and Nell,
It was in the fresh air
And we went as we were
And we stayed as we were
Which was Hell.
Poor Grace started singing at midnight
And didn't stop singing till four;
We knew the excitement was bound to begin
When Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin
And scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
I must say the fun was intense,
We all had to do
What the people we knew
Would be doing a hundred years hence.
Dear Cecil arrived wearing armour,
Some shells and a black feather boa,
Poor Millicent wore a surrealist comb
Made of bits of mosaic from St. Peter's in Rome,
But the weight was so great that she had to go home,
I couldn't have liked it more!

People's behaviour
Away from Belgravia
Would make you aghast,
So much variety
Watching Society
Scampering past,
If you have any mind at all
Gibbon's divine Decline and Fall
Seems pretty flimsy,
No more than a whimsy,
By way of contrast
On Saturday last —

I've been to a marvellous party,
We didn't start dinner till ten
And young Bobbie Carr
Did a stunt at the bar
With a lot of extraordinary men;
Dear Baba arrived with a turtle
Which shattered us all to the core,
The Grand Duke was dancing a foxtrot with me
When suddenly Cyril screamed Fiddledidee
And ripped off his trousers and jumped in the sea,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
Elise made an entrance with May,
You'd never have guessed
From her fisherman's vest
That her bust had been whittled away.
Poor Lulu got fried on Chianti
And talked about esprit de corps.
Maurice made a couple of passes at Gus
And Freddie, who hates any kind of a fuss,
Did half the Big Apple and twisted his truss,
I couldn't have like it more.

I've been to a marvellous party,
We played the most wonderful game,
Maureen disappeared
And came back in a beard
And we all had to guess at her name!
We talked about growing old gracefully
And Elsie who's seventy-four
Said, 'A, it's a question of being sincere,
And B, if you're supple you've nothing to fear.'
Then she swung upside down from a glass chandelier,
I couldn't have like it more.

The Party Next Door
Ogden Nash

I trust I am not a spoilsport, but there is one thing

I deplore,
And that is a party next door.
I am by nature very fond of everybody, even my
And I think it only right that they should enjoy some
kind of diversion after their labors,
But why don't they get their diversion by going to the
movies of the Little Theater or the Comédie
Français or the Commedia dell'arte?
Why do they always have to be giving a party?
You may think you have heard a noise because you have
heard an artillery barrage or an avalanche or the
subway's horrendous roar,
But you have never really heard anything until you
have heard a party next door.
At a party next door the guests stampede like
elephants in wooden shoes and gallop like
desperate polo players,
And all the women are coloratura sopranos and all the
men are train announcers and hogcallers and
saxophone solo players.
They all have screamingly funny stories to tell each other.
And half of them get at one end of the house and half of
them get at the other end of the yard and then
they yell to each other,
And even if the patrolman looks in from his beat they
do not moderate or stop,
No, they just seduce the cop.
And at last you manage to doze off by the dawn's early
And they wake you up all over again shouting good
And whether it consists of two quiet old ladies
dropping in for a game of bridge of a lot of
revelers getting really sort of out-of-bounds-like,
That's what a party next door always sounds like,
So when you see somebody with a hoarse voice and a
pallid face and eyes bleary and red-rimmed and
It doesn't mean they've been to a party themselves, no,
it probably means that they have experienced a
party next door.

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    Excerpted from Comic Poems edited by Peter Washington. Copyright © 2001. Excerpted by permission of Everyman's Library, a division of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.