The Pig by Ogden Nash

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash is a short poem that centers on the animal pig. Frederic Ogden Nash was an American poet. He was popular for his light poetry or light verse. Like ‘The Pig’, he wrote over 500 short and humorous pieces. The rhyming scheme of most of his poems is unconventional and he used rhyming to insert humor in his verse. Ogden Nash was declared the country’s best-known writer of humorous poetry. His pun-like rhymes still surprise modern readers.

The Pig by Ogden Nash


Summary of The Pig

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash is a short four-line poem that humorously talks about the pig.

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash is a light poem that briefly talks about what the pig supplies to men. Items like sausage, ham, and bacon are the products of pig’s meat. Sausage is an item of food that is made from minced pork packed cylindrically in the pig’s skin. It is typically sold raw or fried before eating. Whereas, ham is salted or smoked meat. It is prepared from the upper part of a pig’s leg. Lastly, bacon is a cured meat obtained from the back or sides of a pig. Thereafter, in the poem, Ogden Nash humorously refers to “big heart” as it generously gives such items to men. At the end of the poem, the poet ironically says that it is the stupidity of the pig.

You can read the full poem here.


Structure of The Pig

‘The Pig by Ogden Nash is a four-line short poem. The rhyming scheme of the poem is conventional and the poet uses an AABB rhyme scheme. This rhyme scheme is also called the regular rhyme scheme. As an example, in the first two lines, “mistaken” rhymes with “bacon”. In the following two lines, “big” rhymes with “pig”. There is an interesting twist in the rhyming of the first two lines. Here, “bacon” doesn’t correctly rhyme with “mistaken”. It seems that the poet referred to “bacon” as a pun. The actual word intended there appears to be “beckon”. By using this pun, the poet referred to the pig’s innocence as it unknowingly welcomed men in its territory and got killed.

The metrical composition of the poem is also regular. There are a total of eight syllables in each line of the text. The overall poem is composed of iambic tetrameter. It means each line of the poem has four feet and the stress falls on the second syllable of each foot, creating a rising rhythm in the poem. However, there is only one variation in the poem. It is in the second line. The first foot of this line is trochaic. To bring a sense of evenness in the metrical pattern of the poem, the stress can be given on the second syllable making it an iambic foot.


Literary Devices

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash begins with irony. The poet uses this literary device to emphasize the cruelty of men on the pigs in the first line. However, there is also a litote in this line as there are two negative words, “not mistaken” placed side by side to emphasize the poet’s certainty about the fact. In the second line, the poet uses personification and invests the idea of supplying things in pigs. This line also contains a climax as the ideas are in ascending order of importance.

In the third line, there is an alliteration in “his heart”. Apart from that, “heart” associates the pig as a whole. That’s why it is a synecdoche. There is a metaphor in this line too. Whatsoever, in the last line of the poem, the poet uses another irony and refers to the “stupidity of the pig” in a humorous vein.


Analysis of The Pig

Lines 1–2

The pig, if I am not mistaken,


‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash introduces the main idea of the poem in the first two lines. The poem begins like an answer to a question asked in nursery school. The question is, “What are the uses of the pig?” The poet with certainty answers that it supplies us with different meat products like sausage, ham, and bacon.

This simple beginning of Nash’s poem presents an underlying irony. The pun used in the second line makes the irony clear. Here, the poet implicitly uses the word “beckon” in place of “bacon”. Thus, the pig appears to be attractive or inviting. For such an unmendable innocence it gets killed.


Lines 3–4

Let others say his heart is big–


In the last two lines of the poem, the poet ironically refers to what others say about the pig. People think it is a generous animal. As a result, it unquestionably provides its meat to men. At last, the poet heightens the ironic effect of the poem by saying, “I call it stupid of the pig”. Here, the poet again uses a pun in the use of the word “pig”. Firstly, it is a reference to the foolishness of the real pig. The other reference is for the men who foolishly say, “his heart is big”.


Historical Context

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash is one of his poems that talk about animals. Ogden Nash preferred animals as he could easily direct his irony to men without saying anything directly. This mode of satire or laughing at the flaws of mankind is popular from the times of ancient Greece and Rome. The poet used humor to make people aware of the flaws that they commit regularly. In this poem, the poet also directs his irony towards men for their cruelty to animals like pigs.


Similar Poetry

‘The Pig’ by Ogden Nash is one of the animal-poems. Here is a list of poetic works that features a similar kind of theme.

You can read about 10 of the Best Ogden Nash Poems here.

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Sudip Das Gupta
A complete expert on poetry, Sudip graduated with a first-class B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature. He has a passion for analyzing poetic works with a particular emphasis on literary devices and scansion.

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