Monday, October 13, 2008

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
them!"

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."

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