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.
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