Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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. Pre-Twitter.com , 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 @ http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/richards/howe/howe-II.html

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