Monday, December 29, 2008

More than Twelve Days of Christmas

In an effort to stimulate the 1939 economy FDR extended the Christmas shopping season a full week by moving Thanksgiving to the third Thursday of November. As recently noted by the National Archives , the Crossville, TN Chronicle and Jennifer Howard in D.C., Ogden Nash basted Roosevelt for his judgment:

Thanksgiving, like Ambassadors,
Cabinet officers and
others smeared with political ointment,
Depends for its existence on
Presidential appointment.

- Ogden Nash

Most Americans agreed and Turkey Day was restored to the last Thursday in 1942.

Ogden Nash poems copyright © by Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Before Heading to the Altar...

... thoughts of Ogden Nash:

The most exciting happiness is the happiness generated by forces beyond your control.
Ogden Nash

Marriage was one of Nash's favorite topics for verse. This bride to be from Florida expands the O.N. matrimonial archive via an enlightened application of a Nash observation.

Post Election Gripes

The Santa Barbara Independent & Montrose, CO Daily Press remind us that in Nash's view, if you didn't vote, you have no right to complain. They incorporated his poem, Election Day is a Holiday in a pre-election editorial on why voting matters. Some excerpts followed by a link to the full poem:

People on whom I do not bother to dote
Are people who do not bother to vote...

They have such refined and delicate palates
That they can discover no one worthy of their ballots,
And then when someone terrible gets elected
They say There, that’s just what I expected!

And they go around for four years spouting discontented criticisms
And contented witticisms....

And they have discovered that if you don’t take time out to go to the polls
You can manage very nicely to get through thirty-six holes.
Oh let us cover these clever people very conspicuously with loathing,
For they are un-citizens in citizens’ clothing.

They attempt to justify their negligence
On the ground that no candidate appeals to people of their intelligence,
But I am quite sure that if Abraham Lincoln (Rep.) ran against Thomas Jefferson (Dem.),
Neither man would be appealing enough to squeeze a vote out of them.

Election Day is a Holiday

If Nash's eloquence failed to motivate you to scale back your Election Day outing to 18 holes, your patriotic significant other may have bad news for you...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Ogden Nash Online Contest Draws a Crowd

John Tierney's blog on the New York Times site recently asked readers to add a stanza to Nash's oft quoted work, Reflections on Ice Breaking.

The competition was launched to draw attention to the new scientific research touting that "Pyschologists report in Science that you’re more likely to think warmly of someone else if you’re holding something warm in your hand like a mug of coffee or tea." Tierney posits " At long last, we have scientific guidance regarding that great question of social lubrication: Should you ask someone to meet for a drink or a cup of coffee?"

Nash often serves as 'contextual color' for journalists and Reflections may be the most memorized poem in the English language:

Candy is dandy,
But liquor is quicker

The event drew 231 responses, far exceeding the average number of comments for this blog that seeks to validate new research with common experience. The ardent response to a 1931 poem from a science forum points to the universal appeal and cultural staying power of Mr. Nash's work.

My favorite entry in the contest:


No less so.

No word on the winner yet...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Local Nash: East & West, Young & Old

Ogden Nash's work was featured in a couple events I think he would have enjoyed attending himself.

The Parent- Child book club of San Diego's Rancho Peñasquitos Library met to discuss “The Tale of Custard the Dragon”. Nash's passion for writing about and for children likely inspired a stimulating and humorous conversation.

On the other side of the country and the life continuum...

In Portsmouth NH , a group of local writers and musicians presented an afternoon of poetry and music to seniors in retirement communities. The review "Surprised by Joy" featured the work of Ogden Nash, Shakespeare & Frost was conceived by Elizabeth Knies, Portsmouth's Poet Laureate. Elizabeth is seated in the back row second from left and looks fairly joy-infused, as does her troupe. Which was no doubt a contagious delight for their venerable audience. The poems reflected the stages of life from childhood to maturity. The readings were augmented by the "beautiful," "haunting," and "charming" cello compositions of Kristin Miller.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ogden Nash's Last Verse

"Frances, I love you" was not a rhyme but a simple truth for Nash since he met Frances in his early 20's.* Mrs. Nash went on to live another 23 years, active in volunteer work and enjoying her daughters and grandchildren. The Nash family plot in North Hampton, NH is shared by their long time servant, Clarence Collins. Frances and Ogden share a gravestone flanked by Isabelle and Clarence.

I'm very grateful to Amy Kane, for sharing these recently captured scenes of the Nash grave site within Little River Cemetery. Amy's beautiful words and pictures about coastal NH can be found on Atlantic Avenue. Click on the pictures to enlarge the details.

Photos Copyright Amy Kane 2008. Used with Permission.

*Last words according to his biographer Douglas M. Parker. The book 'Loving Letters from Ogden Nash' leaves little doubt as to Nash's passionate feelings for Frances over 5 decades.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literary Contest Where Ogden Nash Wrote

The Portsmouth Antheneum will launch a literary version of 'American Idol' on as part of the upcoming Portsmouth Literary Festival. Writers will read their best short fiction before a live audience and judges. The Festival, now in it's 20th year, runs from October 23rd - 24th.

Legend has it that Ogden Nash would seek out its cozy nooks to write during his summer's there. In 1962 Nash extended his residency to 6 months out of the year when he purchased an Atlantic Avenue home big enough for his daughters and their families.

Not that Nash necessarily needed a quiet oasis to write his humor. Visitors to his Little Boar's Head home were surprised to see that Nash was comfortable versifying for publication in the midst of chaotic child's play!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ogden Nash and the '69 Mets

I remember New York City in the summer of 1969 as an electric time. Neil Armstrong touched moon dirt on July 25th. In mid-August, Up the Thruway in the Catskills, there was a revolutionary music festival at Yasgur's farm.

Six weeks later, the Mets won the Eastern division after being in last place for much of the first half of the year.

Bypassing Woodstock & Apollo 13, Ogden Nash chose to memorialize the 'Amazin's. Nash, like many New Yorker's viewed the Mets as the National League successors to the turncoat Giants and Dodgers. Upon learning of their victory Nash penned the following thank you to Joan Payson, the Mets owner, and sent it to the New York Times.

A Poem

Whence camest thou, Mrs. Payson, dear?
Out of nowhere into the here.
At last thy patient, loyal clients
Can forget the Dodgers and the Giants.
Then what about O'Malley and Stoneham?
De mortius nihil nisi bonum.

Ogden Nash September 24, 1969

As a fan of both the Orioles and the Mets, Nash must have enjoyed the ensuing World Series immensely.

In a 1957 New Yorker poem, Nash expressed the following about the Giants moving to San Francisco:

Lines to be Carved on Coogan's Bluff

The candle's out, the game is up;
Who has heart for a stirrup cup?
Farewell Giants and Horace Stoneham
De mortius nihil nisi bonum.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Preparing for Flu Season with Ogden Nash

Nash persevered with his writing and lecturing despite many stomach related health issues throughout his career. By lampooning the challenges and foibles of every day life, Nash made them easier to face. The Germ, was quoted this week by Eleanor from Malaysia in her blog:

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ

Though smaller than the pachyderm

His customary dwelling place

Is deep within the human race

His childish pride he often pleases

By giving people strange diseases

Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?

You probably contain a germ.

Ogden Nash Says Thonx to the Bronx

Geographical Reflection from Hard Lines in 1931 is oft quoted.

Lesser known is the 1964 story featuring Nash from the New York Times:

Contrite Poet Gives A Cheer for Bronx On Golden Jubilee

Give the Bronx their due,
Say the poet, with rue.

That was more or less the posture assumed yesterday by Ogden Nash.

Back in 1931, Mr. Nash recalled, a "line popped into my head for no reason." It was bought by The New Yorker, which penetrates to New York's northernmost borough, where some residents were consternated by the couplet:

The Bronx?
No Thonx.

The lines lingered on the fringes of Bronx lore for many years. Dr. Abraham Tauber, dean of the faculty at the Bronx Community College, remembered it recently.

Dean Tauber is a Bronx booster. He wants the borough's golden jubilee, currently being celebrated, to be a success. The Community College, a unit of the City University of New York, will even offer a course next fall in the history of the Bronx.

The dean wrote Mr, Nash, recalling the couplet, and asked if the poet would not "consider writing a little piece in your inimitable style, not to make amends but to help us smile over our own foibles and yet to walk, with head held high and quickened step, the streets in the place in which so many fine people live and work and play."

Back came this reply from Mr. Nash:

Dear Dean Tauber,
I can't seem to escape the
sins of my smart-alec youth;
Here are my amends.

I wrote those lines, "The Bronx?
No thonx";
I shudder to confess them.

Now I'm an older, wiser man
I cry, "The Bronx? God bless

Contritely yours,
Ogden Nash.

- New York Times, May 25, 1964

As excerpted from If Fun is Fun, isn't that Enough? Nash sought to educate audiences to what extent a poet's license could go in generating smiles:

"They'll sell their birthright every time.
To make a point or turn a rhyme.
This motto, child, is my bequest:
There's many a false word spoken in jest."

Friday, September 19, 2008

'Carnival' at the Met 9/26

Philippe de Montebello, head of NY's Metropolitan Museum of Art, will be reading Ogden Nash's poems in a staging of 'Carnival of the Animals'. The Orpheus Chamber Orchestra will provide the musical accompaniment.

One little known Ogden Nash animal poem that won't be included:


Two Cows
Mildly Mooing;
No Bull;
Nothing doing

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Scroobious Pip

One of Ogden Nash's lesser known collaborations was the completion of "Scroobious Pip", by Edward Lear, the infamous 'nonsense' humorist of Victorian England. Lear's handwritten manuscript for Scroobius was found after he died in 1888. It was published in the U.S. in 1953, with unfinished verses. In 1968, Nash took up the task to complete what has been called one of Lear's most engaging poems. The Pip is a strange, inscrutable creature - part bird, beast, insect, and fish. Nash filled in the missing lines and phrases to complete the tale of why all the animals in the world gathered around the Scroobius Pip.

The main character is also the namesake of a UK based Hip Hop / Jazz / a'cappella artist

The Scroobious Pip

The Scroobious Pip went out one day
When the grass was green, and the sky was grey.
Then all the beasts in the world came round
When the Scroobious Pip sat down on the ground.
The cat and the dog and the kangaroo
The sheep and the cow and the guineapig too--
The wolf he howled, the horse he neighed
The little pig squeaked and the donkey brayed,
And when the lion began to roar
There never was heard such a noise before.
And every beast he stood on the tip
Of his toes to look a the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the Fox - "By far,
You're the wisest beast! You know you are!
Go close to Scroobious Pip and say,
Tell us all about yourself we pray-
For as yet we can't make out in the least
If you're Fish or Insect, or Bird or Beast."
The Scroobious Pip looked vaguelyy round
And sang these words with a rumbling sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The Scroobious Pip from the top of a tree
Saw the distant Jellybolee,-
And all the birds in the world came there,
Flying in crowds all through the air.
The Vulture and Eagle, the cock and the hen
The Ostrich the Turkey the Snipe and the Wren;
The Parrot chattered, the Blackbird sung
And the owl looked wise bu held his tongue,
And when the Peacock began to scream
The hullabaloo was quite extreme.
And every bird he fluttered the tip
Of his wing as he stared at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the owl- "By far,
You're the wisest Bird -- you know you are!
Fly close to the Scroobious Pip and say,
Explain all about yourself we paray-
For as yet we have neither seen nor heard
If you're fish or insect, beast or bird!"
The Scroobious Pip looked gaily round
And sang these words with a chirpy sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The Scroobious Pip went into the sea
By the beautiful shore of Jellybolee-
All the fish in the world swam round
With a splashing squashy spluttering sound.
The sprat, the herring, the turbot too
The shark, the sole and the mackerel blue,
The flounder spluttered, the purpoise puffed
And when the whale began to spout
And every fish he shook the tip
Of his tail as he gazed on the Scroobious Pip
At last they said to the whale- "By far
You're the biggest Fish - you know you are!
Swim close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray!-
For to know you yourself is our only wish;
Are you beast or insect, bird or fish?"
The Scroobious Pip looked softly round
And sung these words with a liquid sound-
Pliffity Flip; Pliffety Flip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The scroobious Pip sat under a tree
By the silent shores of the Jellybolee;
All the insects in all the world
About the Scroobious Pip entwirled.
Beetles and with purple eyes
Gnats and buzztilential flies-
Grasshoppers, butterflies, spiders too,
Wasps and bees and dragon-flies blue,
And when the gnats began to hum
bounced like a dismal drum,
And every insect curled the tip
Of his snout, and looked a the Scroobious Pip.
At last the said to the Ant - "By far
You're the wisest insect, you know you are!
Creep close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray,
For we can't find out, and we can't tell why-
If you're beast or fish or a bird or a fly."
The Scroobious Pip turned quickly round
And sang these words with a whistly sound
Wizzeby wip - wizzeby wip--
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


Then all the beasts that walk on the ground
Danced in a circle round and round-
And all the birds that fly in the air
Flew round and round in a circle there,
And all the fish in the Jellybolee
Swum in a circle about the sea,
And all the insects that creep or go
Buzzed in a circle to and fro.
And they roared and sang and whistled and cried
Till the noise was heard from side to side-
Chippetty tip! Chippetty tip!
It's only name is the Scroobious Pip.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Quote Industry


There is a cottage cluster of web sites focused on quoting famous lines and sage advice, where Nash's verse fits well and can be found in abundance. Type in "ogden nash breadlines headlines" to your favorite search engine and dozens of virtual quote repositories pop up. These are great if you need to find a witty Nashism in a jiffy. (What would make them even better would be if they were able to attribute the work and the year) One gentleman's blog, The Cynics Almanac , in honor of Nash's birthday, cited the entire verse as follows:

They take a paper and they read the headlines,
So they've heard of unemployment and they've heard of breadlines,
And they philanthropically cure them all
By getting up a costume charity ball

This blog also notes that Dorothy Parker's birthday occurs on 8/22. Which interestingly enough, is three days after Nash's. (Nash 1902, Parker, 1893) Parker and Nash were friends and greatly admired each others work.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The 106th Anniversary

...Of Ogden Nash's birth passed this week on August 19th. During his life he often said that, from the time he could form words, he always thought in rhymes. If alive today, I suspect that apart from enjoying late summer on the New Hampshire seacoast, he would delight at the longevity and applications of his legacy. This week's press clippings show that Nash continues to impact American cultural life:

Maureen Mullarkey of The New York Sun opens her article about the one-dimensional, negative philistinism of artist Tetsumi Kudo with a Nash quote. "Any kiddie in school can love like a fool, / But hating, my boy, is an art." Nash's popular and colorful verse has provided a generative spark for thousands of journalists as article openers.

Nash's "Don't try to rewrite what the moving finger has writ, and don't ever look over your shoulder." is the quote of the day for the UPI world almanac. I'm curious about the context and attribution...

London's Sunday Times puts pianist and versifier John Fuller in the same artistic sphere as Ogden Nash. Although Fuller seems more deranged than 'light' to me, who am I to argue with the Times' literary luminaries...

For anyone in Lynchburg, VA area next weekend the Nash infused children's staple 'Carnival of the Animals' will be performed
at the Academy of Fine Art’s Joy and Lynch Christian Warehouse Theatre:

"At 3 p.m. that afternoon, a Concert for Children of All Ages begins.

The first part will feature Camille Saint-Saen’s “Carnival of the Animals,” with Ogden Nash’s poems about animals arranged for two pianos — with Romero and Nicholas Ross at the keyboards — and chamber orchestra. Lynchburg area musicians who will play are Jana Ross, Laura Webb, Amy Corbett, Ralph Jaxtheimer, Bob Bowen, Mariam d’Eustachio and John McClenon. James M. Elson will narrate."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Edward Lear & Ogden Nash

This UK newspaper portrays 19th century author Edward Lear as Britain's equivalent of Ogden Nash. His hilarious, abstract and looney verse was unquestionably ground-breaking stuff for victorian England. Nash and Lear's work were recently grouped together in a "Great Eccentrics" a comic recital starring Dame Judi Densch. Sounds like a wonderfully entertaining show.

Here is an example of Lear's written and sketch work, that according to the author of this Lear site, may have been a progenitor of our phrase " snail mail"

The inscription on the snail's shell reads:

Feb. 19. 1864

Dear Baring

Please give the encloged noat to Sir Henry - (which I had just written:-& say that I shall have great pleasure in coming on Sunday. I have sent your 2 vols of Hood to Wade Brown. Many thanks for lending them to me - which they have delighted me eggstreamly Yours sincerely

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Pre-Olympic Update: Ogden Nash Loved Sports

Nash professes in the following poem that he was a born spectator. However, he was also someone who loved to play. Ogden Nash was known to relish playing football and ice hockey while in school.

I recently discovered this athletic verse, thanks to Amitabh of Pune, India. Having memorized Casey at the Bat when I was in 6th grade, I was delighted to encounter another poem about sports. (The archive of sports poems is as thick as our president's library.) This is also an example of a Nash subject matter, so germane to most people, yet largely ignored by other poets.


One infant grows up and becomes a jockey
Another plays basketball or hockey

This one the prize ring hates to enter
That one becomes a tackle or center...

(Read the whole poem here)

...When swollen eye meets gnarled first
When snaps the knee, and cracks the wrist

When officialdom demands
Is there a doctor in the stands?

My soul in true thanksgiving speaks
For this modest of physiques

"Athletes, I'll drink to you,
Or eat with you
Or anything except compete with you

Buy tickets worth their radium
To watch you gamble in the stadium

And reassure myself anew
That you are not me and I'm not you

And thanks to the Sidney, Montana Sidney Herald for reminding us of Nash's:


A is for Alex

The great Alexander;

More goose eggs he pitched

Than a popular gander.

B is for Bresnahan

Back of the plate;

The Cubs were his love,

And McGraw was his hate.

C is for Cobb,

Who grew spikes and not corn,

And made all the basemen

Wish they weren’t born.

D is for Dean.

The grammatical Diz.

When they asked, Who’s the Tops?

Said correctly, I is.

E is for Evers,

His jaw in advance;

Never afraid

To Tinker with Chance.

F is for Fordham

And Frankie and Frisch;

I wish he were back

With the Giants, I wish.

G is for Gehrig,

The Pride of the Stadium;

His record pure gold,

His courage, pure radium.

H is for Hornsby;

When pitching to Rog,

The pitcher would pitch,

Then the pitcher would dodge....Read the rest here

Friday, July 11, 2008

Rediscovering Ogden Nash

I was introduced to Nash during the summer of 1972 I was at hockey camp at St. Georges School, Middletown, RI, where the versifier had been both a student and teacher.

Returning to Middletown two decades later, a book store owner recommended 'Loving Letters from Ogden Nash' which I devoured in a few days on the beach. I strongly recommend this wonderful book about Nash's remarkable relationship with his family. Douglas Parker's "The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light Verse", is also a MUST read for any Nash fan.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Digital Versifications

The words created in this guide are very much in the style and spirit of Nash's original poetic modifications:

Yellular - The loudness one adopts in response to a bad cell-phone connection.

Restaur-romp - last night's make-out session at the bar (Possibly the next step after 'Liquor is Quicker' )

Friday, July 4, 2008

Ogden Nash on Literary Rights

Expand the image

In 1966 a man named George Hill wrote the New York Times in opposition of extending the copyright bill 50 years past the death of an author.

The published letter so riled Ogden Nash that he drafted a reply entitled “Protection for Writers” that appeared on on September 26, 1966. The Nash's were no strangers to the editorial page with Nash's father having numerous of his letters published in the Times. The core argument of Nash's letter is that his work is his legacy, and should provide support for his children and grandchildren. Nash's expert use of humor to express his serious and pragmatic concerns is in full force. Like all his work, it was crafted with pencil, not MS Word. The verbatim cover letter and draft:

“Thank you for the letter from The Times. I enclose the rough draft of a reply which I have today mailed to the editor. I hope it finds its way into print. Yours Ogden Nash.

“It is obvious that Mr. George P. Hill…is neither a writer or a composer. It is equally obvious that he is a generous man, but with whose property is he being generous? My own position is far from unique. I share it with many friends in the fields of music and literature. For thirty-seven years I have made my living my arranging words in a way that has attracted a certain number of readers. At the end of thirty-seven years I own no stocks, no bonds, and am dependent on magazine sales, royalties and reprint rights. I have two children and five grandchildren to whom I am devoted. All I can leave them is my copyrights, which represent the harvest of 37 years of creative labor. Their value may not be great, but a fair number of my verses have crept into school text books and should provide at least a trickle of income for some time after my death. This Mr. Hill proposes to confiscate for the benefit of an amorphous public. No thank you. And if I were Robert Frost, T.S. Eliot or Aaron Copland I should still say, No thank you. Mr. Hill fears that the hypothetical witless and consciousless heirs of an author or composer would lose, destroy, suppress, scatter or sell to the white slave trade the folios of priceless manuscripts. To whom would Mr. Hill assign the disposition of these relics? A government agency? A private foundation? An Academic Anglais or Americaine? Again, no thank you. It takes a superior piece of moon-calfery to provoke a croak of protest from this small frog in the literary pond, but Mr. Hill has done the trick.”


Monday, June 30, 2008

Ogden Nash Summer Estate Tour

THIS Tuesday evening July 1st, the North Hampton, NH public library will be sponsoring two very special events. From 5 -6:30 pm tours of the former summer home of Ogden Nash will be given to the public. The new owners of the home in Little Boar's Head, NH have graciously opened the doors for a rare peak at this historic site.

Following the tour the Pontine Theater will host Home is Heaven, a work by Marguerite Mathews and Greg Mathers featuring Ogden Nash poems about family and summers by the sea.

Contact the North Hampton Library for more information @ 603.964.6326

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ogden at St. Andrew's by the Sea

At St. Andrew's by the Sea Chapel in Rye Beach, NH there is a permanent tribute to their secretary of 25 years, Ogden Nash.

The Thurberesque signature of O.N. can be seen in the corner of a stained glass window that the Chapel commissioned in 1971, the year of Nash's death. Nash used this doodle design to sign many of his letters and autographs.

The Nash's summered in nearby Little Boar's Head for many years. One can imagine that the Chapel's meeting minutes were of a variety more lively than most church records!

I was at St. Andrew's for the wedding of our dear friends, Paula and Dan, several years ago. While I remember the distinctive tone of it's large bell ringing calling us to the service, I'm sorry that I didn't know about the window. Happily you can read all about it at

You can also read about the chapel in a recently published story by Karen Dandurant at:

Julia Ward Howe in the Nash Style

Many have emulated Ogden Nash's style for fun and fame. According to Douglas Parker, Nash's biographer, The New Yorker received hundreds of light verse submissions after Nash's were published. However, the New Yorker insisted on the genuine article, as it were.

Writing light verse is also efficient way to communicate. , Nash was distilling complex experiences into concise and transparent verses.
Julia Ward Howe wrote in Nash's style but cannot be accused of emulating him, since she was writing beautiful poetry a half century before Nash. But the affinities between here poems and Nash's are striking. See if you don't agree:


The clothes-line is a Rosary
Of household help and care;
Each little saint the Mother loves
Is represented there.

And when across her garden plot
She walks, with thoughtful heed.
I should not wonder if she told
Each garment for a bead.

. . . . . . .

A stranger passing, I salute
The Household in its wear,
And smile to think how near of kin
Are love and toil and prayer.


This poem was written in Newport, RI four decades before Nash arrived there to teach at St. Georges. I find it similar to Nash in that it elevates an every-day family event into something transcendental. The verses, words and rhymes are simple. Yet they are arranged to generate strong feeling. Like a significant slice of Nash's work, it was observational and brought new meaning to something normally taken for granted.

There is more about Julia Ward Howe @

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Preakness Time

Ogden Nash loved horse racing. And fervently enjoyed his local race, the Preakness. His versifying instincts led him to observe the sport as follows:

In the world of mules there are no rules.

The Derby is a race of aristocratic sleekness, for horses of birth to prove their worth to run in the Preakness?

Hawkeye's Version

Reviews of Carnival of the Animals recently produced by Alan Alda in NY:

NY Sun:

Much more satisfying was the curtain raiser, a spirited, funny read of "The Carnival of the Animals," by Camille Saint-Saëns.

The composer never performed this piece in public during his lifetime, reserving it instead for his friends and circle. This version included the poetry of Ogden Nash, so outrageous as to be hilarious — he employs the word "kangaroomeringue" to rhyme with "boomerang" — and Mr. Alda read it with much panache. The work is filled with send-ups of the great composers, including Rossini as a dinosaur and Beethoven as a cuckoo, and it was quite well-played by a different combination of instruments than those in the second half of the evening.

NY Times: The Saint-Saëns, with Alan Alda reading Ogden Nash’s running commentary in verse, had its usual gentle appeal.

Early Work

According to Nash biographer Douglas M. Parker, Nash was very close to his sister Gwen and sometimes referred to her as mother number 2. At her Wedding in Savannah "Ten year old Ogden recited a poem he had written beginning "Beautiful Spring at last is here!/ And has taken my sister I sadly fear."

Years later Nash poked fun at himself, as the wedding actually took place in January.

Parker's book, Ogden Nash - The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light Verse, is based on many sources, including the Nash family. It's a wonderful read that details what a unique life Nash lived.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Billboard Industry Lashes Back

Joyce Kilmer* reported:

I think I shall never see
A poem as lovely as a tree...

Nash retorted:

I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree
Indeed, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.

David Flint of Turner Advertising snorted:

Ogden Nash may never have seen
A billboard he held dear
But neither did he see a tree
Grossing 20 grand a year

Shameless. But I think Nash would have laughed along with him.

*I can see the spot where Joyce Kilmer taught school from my office window. Earth shattering I know. One of Nash's favorite poets, Dorothy Parker, also went to school within shouting distance of here...Hmmm...better alert the media.

Sub-Prime Sage

Some debts are fun when you are acquiring them,
But none are fun when you set about retiring them.

Ogden Nash

Lost Nash Classic

Ogden Nash was born in Rye.
Is it any wonder that his Rhymes are so dry?

For example, a delightful lost* Nash poem on some women's preoccupation with the scale (o.k. make that all women):

Curl Up and Diet

Some ladies smoke too much and some ladies drink too much and some ladies pray too much,

But all ladies think that they weigh too much.

They may be as slender as a sylph or a dryad,

But just let them get on the scales and they embark on a doleful jeremiad;

No matter how low the figure the needle happens to touch,

They always claim it is at least five pounds too much;

No matter how underfed to you a lady’s anatomy seemeth,

She describes herself as Leviathan or Behemoth;

So then their goal would be to look like somebody’s fourteen-year-old

Brothers ghost, or rather not the ghost itself, which is fairly solid, but a silhouette of it,

So I think it is very nice for ladies to be lithe and lissome

But not so much so that you cut yourself if you happen to embrace or kissome.

Quintessential Ogden. From the dark humor laced title, to the timeless, humor coated, searing social commentary, to the whimsical closing rhyme.

Thanks to Dave Wood for his recent review of 'Secret Ingredients', a compilation of New Yorker food articles from the 30's, which highlights this work.

BTW, in the same vein, Nash once wrote: ''Everybody has the right to think whose food is the most gorgeous, and I nominate Georgia's."

* (Only 33 references web-wide according to Google - compared to over 90,000 for 'Candy is Dandy')

Friday, May 9, 2008

Nash Production Live in NYC this Weekend!

Ogden Nash's children's classic 'Custard the Dragon' will be performed live at the Algonquin Theater on East 24th on Sat 5/10 & 5/17 @ 11 & 2. Tickets are only $12 for adults and $8 for children. Could be a great way to spend an hour of your Saturday.

The Nash book was adapted into a Musical, with the help of the Kennedy Center for the Arts, by Brad Ross. Mr. Ross was inspired to put Nash's verse to music after thumbing through a copy of Custard the Dragon in a Manhattan book store. So much of Nash's verse about animals has been put to music, notably 'Carnival' . It's nice to see something new on this front. Please comment if you have a chance to see the show~!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Remembered for Sharing Ogden Nash

Here is a nice memorial to a man whose family remembered him for many wonderful things, one of which was how much he enjoyed reciting Ogden Nash to them.

Poetry Marathon is a Popular Fundraiser

Ogden Nash and Robert Frost showed up at the William B. Ogden Free Library in Walton, NY for a 24 hour poemathon.

April Twealth

A Month Late But Still Worth noting:

Lines in Praise of a Date Made Praiseworthy Solely by Something Very Nice That Happened to It

by Ogden Nash

As through the calendar I delve
I pause to rejoice in April twelve.
Yea, be I in sickness or be I in health
My favorite date is April twealth.

Thanks to Avianto

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Second Best Writer in the English Language

Next to Shakespeare Ogden Nash is the best english writer according to two players at . Nash undoubtedly played a few rounds of Scrabble in his career and I'm sure would be proud of this accolade from his peers.

Nash's Political Commentary

In her letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal about unfair tazation, Gilbert Stubbs of Wellesley, MA notes that:

The famous poet Ogden Nash wrote over 60 years ago that this line was pursued even then by class warfare politicians. In his very humorous poem, "The Politician," Nash wrote, "He gains votes ever and anew by taking money from everybody and giving it to a few, while explaining that every penny was extracted from the few to be giving to the many."

Read the whole letter here (subscription required)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Frederick O. Nash

Nash's middle name could have just as easily been Oasis as Ogden. Nash as a touchstone to many seeking to restore a balance to their lives.

This week David from Palo Alto, who is immersed in the complexity of the Silicon Valley, cites his fondness for the simple charms of 'The Termite' and 'The Rabbits'

Vimba, a twenty-something from Zimbabwe, when pausing for reflection, can really relate to "My Dream"

However, Behold the Stars, cites Nash as an example of boring class lecture content. I wish that I had a class that taught Nash. Seriously - it got me wondering how many colleges and high schools had Ogden Nash in their curriculum? a quick google search shows that F.O.N. is frequently linked to and referenced from elementary, high school and post-secondary web pages as supplemental reading - but precious few inclusions in the class room curriculum. The 7th graders in beautiful Berkshire mountain town, Pittsfield,Ma and the 9th graders at Valhalla high school are among the lucky few.

The arbiters of highfalutin verse at the Mackinac center, characterize Ogden Nash's work as low art, relative to the high art of T.S. Elliot. Well...different yes, but both are complex, talented and strike powerful chords within their respective audiences.

La Vida Loca

A very funny article in upstate NY's Lockport Union Sun Journal about the generation gap when it comes to living the wild life. It opens with the Ogden Nash line: “Home is like heaven and orgies are vile, but I like an orgy once in awhile.”

One Small Rhyme for Man...

One giant step for mankind and conservation. When Nash wrote 'Song of the Open Road' the outdoor advertising industry was largely unregulated and gobbling up the roadside views of American byways. It wasn't until Ladybird Johnson took aim at the industry in the 60's and banned most advertising billboards from U.S. interstates. States and municipalities followed suit with tighter restrictions.

Invariably one of the most referenced Nash poems today, Song of the Open Road leapfrogged off of Joyce Kilmer's 'Trees'. The poem often appears in articles about conservation of forests and trees like this one in India.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Quoting Nash's political verse

While not known primarily for his political satire, Ogden Nash didn't hesitate to wield it when so moved. Here is an excerpt from an unnamed Nash poem pertaining to the Japanese's aggressive occupations of the mid-20th century:

How courteous is the Japanese;
He always says, “Excuse it, please.”
He climbs into his neighbor’s garden,
And smiles, and says, “I beg your pardon”;
He bows and grins a friendly grin,
And calls his hungry family in;
He grins, and bows a friendly bow;
“So sorry, this my garden now.”

The poem is a lead in for an editorial in the on current border disputes & fears in Asia.

A Slice of Nash from North Hampton

The Portsmouth Herald of NH prints more articles about Ogden Nash than any other newspaper. Owing to Nash being a local hero from his summer residence there. Last week they published this amalgamation and noted the graffiti on the cemetery gate where Nash is buried:

f you take your dog for a run . . .

Thanks for picking up when you're done.

Nash didn't write it, but he would have loved it.

Talking Like the Rain

This is the name of a new poetry collection for children which includes Ogden Nash. The works were selected by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy and illustrated by Jane Dyer

“Talking like the rain” is a book of some well known rhymes. All the poems in this book have a nice rhythm, interesting repetitive phrases, clever, creative imagery and there is never a dull moment. The poems are selected from authors such as; Emily Dickenson, Ogden Nash and Robert Louis Stevenson. The art work in this book is a beautiful set of water coloured images that relate directly to the poems on the page. " Read the rest of the review here.

Reviews of new CD with Ogden Nash Rendered in Song

Philip Schroeder has produced SONGS OF MY AFFINITIES which includes 8 Nash poems presented as songs. Based on the reviews it would be worth seeking out and giving a listen:

“These compositions are truly gems of the American repertoire. The settings are spontaneous and inextricably linked to the linguistic nature of the words; that is, the vocal line manifests the phonetic and semantic elements of the text while the ensemble orchestrates its content. The performances are all brilliant.” — New Music Connoisseur

“The allure of this fascinating song collection begins with the astonishing company of writers responsible for these texts. This disk amply demonstrates just how assured and inventive a song composer Schroeder has become. The masterpiece here is ‘Eight Songs on Poems by Ogden Nash,’ in which brilliant but very brief reflections on various animals are brought stunningly to life.... The disk concludes with ‘The Infinite in Repose,’ a prosaic essay by Ralph Waldo Emerson on self-reflection that Schroeder manages to set both clearly and compellingly, both in his sensitivity to the text and in his persuasive use of synthesizer for accompaniment... without detracting from the beautiful words of Emerson or from [Robert ] Best’s superb singing.” — Journal of Singing

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More Nash in the Sincerest Form of Flattery

There are, as I have posted previously, a fair amount of people who cannot resist emulating Ogden Nash's style and indeed channeling Ogden himself. In the Lost Lessons of Frederic Ogden Nash a gentleman calling himself Ogden El Nache writes nashesquian verse that careens out of control at times but is still good fun and provides wisdom for writers. It is on a blog called Cow Hampshire. Which, for those of you outside of New England, is how the Brahmins of the commonwealth tend to refer to their more agrarian northern brethren.

Online Memorial to Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash Day was August 19, 2002, the 100th anniversary of his birth.

Even in an age, when all things have a digital facet, I'm still surprised, pleasantly, to learn that 91 people have left personal messages for Ogden Nash next to his virtual grave site at Find A . Many remember his birthday, especially Laura , a librarian who shares her wedding anniversary with Ogden Nash's birthday and has sent him well wishes two years in a row.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Grateful for Nash during War Time

Here is a wonderful blog " WW2 LOVE LETTERS FROM LONDON" where this couple has posted their love letters from WW II. On August 8th, 1944 Glenn Burke wrote his wife Betty in Sacramento to thank her for sending him an Ogden Nash book:


It's fascinating to hear this soldier's voice on Nash 64 years later. He later writes about "Coffee with the Meal" which was part of the collection "I'm a Stranger Here Myself" published in 1938:

"I slept until about twelve thirty this morning and then laid in bed and read Ogden Nash. I sure like his stuff, seems like I can read it over and over and enjoy it just as much each time. A favorite of mine is “Coffee with the Meal”. which portrays the futile fight of a man to get “coffee with, coffee with, coffee with the meal” (he eventually gets it one hour later, in a demitasse!). That is typical of restaurants here, in old ones you can’t even have it at the table, after supper you go into the lounge for your coffee, in a demitasse!"

This Week's Oft Quoted

This week, author's found numerous reasons to share Nash with their reader's to help make their points.

Starting, appropriately, with a paean to Bartlett's Quotations, this Lima, News (OH) columnist cites Nash along with Twain & Thoreau as his favorite quote generators. "Although Nash gave the world the memorable “Candy/Is dandy/But liquor/Is quicker,” I think he was at his best when he used his verse to comment on human behaviors, as in “There are two kinds of people who blow through life like a breeze/And one kind is gossipers and the other is gossipees.”

Slightly southwest of Lima, Oklahoma advice columnist Malcolm Berko prescribes reading Ogden Nash to a reader with anxiety over the direction of the current U.S. economy. ( Light verse will save the Universe.)

In this poignant blog entry 'Anglophile' of Wisconsin cites Ogden Nash's poem 'Old Men' to help her reader's understand how it feels to watch your grandfather get closer to dying.

Valentines Day Spike

With Cupid's arrow ready to fly tomorrow, there is a high incidence of two romance oriented Nash quotes on the Blogisphere: 1) Candy is dandy, But liquor is quicker and 2) "To keep your marriage brimming, With love in the loving cup, Whenever you're wrong, admit it; Whenever you're right, shut up."

The former presumably being offered up to those looking to progress their relationship to a meaningful stage that evening and the latter being offered as guidance to those looking maintain marital bliss.

Here are a couple of examples: Thought for the Day on news aggregator Arcamax focuses on the more wholesome of the two recommendations. As does the UPI almanac and 'Maddening' in her live journal entry

In London's Independent an article called "Love bites: The naked truth about aphrodisiacs" cites Nash's view on liquor vs. candy.

Of Course Nash also wrote "To my Valentine" which you can read here.

Home is Heaven Gets Top Reviews

It's exciting to learn how people are re-animating Ogden Nash's poetry so that new generations can enjoy his works. The Pontine Theater in Portsmouth, NH just wrapped up a 3 day staging of "Home is Heaven: 32 Poems By Ogden Nash". A stone's throw from Nash's summer spot in Little Boar's Head, from all accounts it sounded like an amazing show.:

New Hampshire's Foster Daily Democrat published two separate full length features on the show's genesis in a chance meeting the producers had with those who knew the poet and how the show progressed to a full scale production.

Tamara Le's article calls Home Is Heaven: " National Endowment for the Arts-caliber entertainment" and focuses on the show itself.

Larry Clow's article details the story behind the show's concept and traces it's progress to the final staging.

The Portsmouth Herald's Tim Robinson raves that 'Home is Heavenly' and if you only see one show this year, make it this one.

The Portsmouth Herald's Jeanne McCartin offers local biographical insights from Nash's time on the NH seacoast and walks through the acts of the play and the background of the performers and it's first production five years ago.

I'm sorry that I missed this one!!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Unpublished Ogden Nash Poem

Detailed below is a moving autobiographical poem Nash wrote towards the end of his life. I think it's beautiful yet grave, celestial yet down to earth, acquiescent yet inspiring, Shakespearian yet Nashesquian and passionately appreciate of life yet begrudgingly accepting of death. Obviously, Nash was a brilliant essential observer of the human condition . In this poem he clearly understands the characters and stage of his own body as well.


Enter, breath;
Breath, slip out;
Blood, be channeled,
And wind about.
O, blessed breath and blood which strive
To keep this body of mine alive!
O gallant breath and blood
Which choose
To wage the battle
They must lose.

~ Ogden Nash

This poem was sent to the publisher of by Nash's granddaughter Frances Rider Smith

Friday, February 1, 2008

Atilla the Pun Mentors the Next Generation

In the Berkshires Mountain town of North Adams, MA veteran poet and humorist Seth Brown is offering a four-week 'doggerel' course beginning Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The class will cover basic doggerel theory, limericks, Ogden Nash and how to create personalized light verse for special events, such as birthdays, weddings, toasts, etc.

Brown is a contributing editor to the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form, writes weekly limericks for, and previously held a rhyming column in the Providence Journal. His current column for the North Adams Transcript, "The Pun Also Rises," won second place in the New England Press Association's 2006 humor column awards. He is the author of three books, most recently "Rhode Island Curiosities" (Globe Pequot Press, 2007). He is fluent in pig Latin, which is his favorite language because everything
rhymes. His Web site is"

New Theater Production of Custard the Dragon

First produced at the Kennedy Center for Performing arts, New York City's Algonquin Theater Productions is reprising through their youth division a limited New York run of Ogden Nash's The Tales of Custard the Dragon: A Family Musical based on the popular books of acclaimed author Ogden Nash for four Saturdays only. February 16 - March 8, 2008.

This Week's Joy of Nash

In this day and age of mega-hyper- digital entertainment its always refreshing to learn of people across the blogosphere who are very satisfied to simply spend some quality time with Ogden Nash's works. 'She' from Delhi, India relished her Nash time here

And Nash's 'Winter Morning' was environmentally apropos as a caption for this photographer
as well as on this Jackson Hole, WY PBS TV broadcast where it was read by Lena Horn.

TIME's Cup of Praise Runneth Over

It's admittedly difficult to not burst out into emulative verse when you are writing about Nash. No doubt many Ogden Nash fans are genetically predisposed to rhyming from birth in any case. Not to mention that it's fun to do. Here is an excerpt of light verse about Ogden Nash from a 2002 TIME magazine post:

Let us grant an indulgence, plenary or perennial,
To Ogden Nash on his centenary, or centennial.
He trod 'mongst giants like Eliot and cummings and Thomas and Kazantzakis and Frost and Yevtushenko and Neruda and Schwartz (now all dead)
In a day when poets were not only renowned but read.
True, Nash did not quite roost in the exalted company of these Everest nest-dwellers,
But he published more than 20 volumes of extremely popular light verse, and if he dwelt in cellars, they were best-cellars.

The expansive version by Richard Corliss can be found by clicking here

Santa Claus May Not be Real

Santa Claus, as most people know him, may not be real. The virtual St. Nicholas Center out of Holland, MI is dedicated to discovering the truth. In presenting both sides of the case they rely partially on the Ogden Nash poem " Will The Real St. Nicholas Please Stand Up? —And Indeed He Did"

Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Family is a Many Splendored Thing

Heather of Oregon reminds us that

"A family unit is composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold."

~Ogden Nash

She has assembled some other funny quotes here

I especially like the one by Scott Adams, Dilbert creator.

Good Clean Wholesome Fun

us to get our hands dirty with this blog entry:

Is obscurity. -

Reflection on a Wicked World
by Ogden Nash

Classic Nash Quote on Dorothy Parker

"To say that Miss Parker writes well," Ogden Nash once remarked, "is as fatuous as proclaiming that Cellini was clever with his hands."

Nash on Stage in Salt Lake, Portsmouth and Montpelier

The local TV weatherman will read Nash with the Salt Lake Symphony at Utah U.

In Portsmouth, NH , a stone's throw from Ogden Nash's summer place, Nash will be read in a show entitled "Home is Heaven: 32 poems by Ogden Nash"

And in the Vermont state house, Nash will be read on Farmers Night in Montpelier in 'Animal Ditties' backed up by the VT symphony.

Nash Preferred Poet of Grafittists

This is the second post I've read this month about Nash being scribbled on New York City subway walls.

Ogden Nash Texts His Publisher

i nvr sw a prpl cw
i nvr hp 2 c 1
bt il tl u
rit her n nw
id rthr c thn b 1

See the original post on the Poetry Showcase

PoetrySoup 1st Prize Winner Cites Ogden Nash

and Anne Sexton as his top two poets in an online interview

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Nash's Ark

'Cuttlefish' has written a wonderful paean to Ogden Nash's animal-centricity here. Cuttle has also posted some wonderful nashesque verse on the biomass.

I highly recommend reading this enjoyable post.

On topic, Christopher Taylor of Australia is pursuing his PhD in 'arachnid systematics' and references Nash in stream of consciousness here - although it's random, I find it fascinating how many people in biological studies see Nash as a kindred spirit.


This UK blogger about poetry notes the growing trend of using literature to to ameliorate mental, physical and emotional ailments. Cleverly titled Prose not Prozac the author registers mental enjoyment from reading Ogden Nash's 'Very Like A Whale'

Saturday, January 5, 2008

A Work in Progress

MelissaPhobia has interwoven Nash into her contemporary story 'A Rose for the Weary' in her journal. "You laugh at ‘Reflection on Ice-Breaking’ by Ogden Nash. You laugh cause that is how your parents’ courtship went."

Yes it's Quicker

Personally, I never thought of this application when reading Ogden Nash's famous liquor quote, but Jack makes a convincing case.

Would You Rather Be Right or Happy?

Ogden Nash is quoted in this humorous collection of marriage quotes. As to the title of this post, I believe the same could be said for a relationship with ex's as well.

In a 1948 English Text Book

Whose purpose is to help equip students for the 'business of living' Ogden Nash is included. This Brooklyn, NY professor laments that O. Nash is not more prevalent in today's student texts.

All You Need to Know about the Credit Crunch

Bob McTeer has found Ogden Nash to be prescient on matters of sub-prime lending, COSO and banking. He has interwoven several Nash quotes into his blog on economic matters.

Professor Twist

Here is a slice of dark humor from Ogden Nash as published in a 1969 children's book on spooky topics.

It only Takes a Couple Lines

To be inspired by Ogden Nash's work. Just ask Shourya in Bangalore.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Hope for the New Year

Ogden Nash's quote, remembered by this Arizona gardener, summarizes the circle of life at the dawn of a new year.

"When I remember by-gone days
I think how evening follows morn
so many I loved were not yet dead
so many I love were not yet born."

Makes you realize, that contrary to the popular adage, there are actually three, not two, sure things in this life: Death, Taxes...and Birth.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Nash Would have had Fun with 'Huckabee'

Cliff Schecter of Brave New Films, feels that the following excerpt of Ogden Nash's poem on duck hunting is apropos vis vi candidate Huckabee:

The hunter crouches in his blind
'Neath camouflage of every kind...
....This grownup man, with pluck and luck
Is hoping to outwit a duck.

Nash Quote On the New Year

Loren of Arlington Virginia, finds an affinity in this Ogden Nash quote on the emergence of next year:

"Every New Year is the direct descendant, isn’t it, of a long line of proven criminals?"

49 Years Later & Still Going Strong

It's New Years and the blogosphere is filled with references to Ogden Nash's 1949 poem "Good Riddance But Now What?" :

Author Tamora Pierce of Syracuse, NY

Opera Professional Kim Witman
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