Time to Rhyme

2 07 2010

Until today I knew two things about Ogden Nash:

  1. When the daily crossword puzzle calls for a poet, there is at least a 50 percent chance he is the solution.  I guess that’s because N, A, S, and H are all nice, common letters.
  2. He wrote a delightful ditty that I can’t seem to forget.  “Candy is dandy but liquor is quicker.”  It’s unfortunate that I can’t remember my zip code but can’t forget that particular poem. Thus is life.

But at the library this morning in the New Books section I discovered The Best of Ogden Nash, edited by Linell Nash Smith (his daughter.) (Published by Ivan R. Dee)  I was enchanted.  A sample:

THE FLY

God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why. (p. 175)

THE TERMITE

Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it and found it good,
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today. (p. 175)

THE KITTEN

The trouble with a kitten is
THAT
Eventually it becomes a
CAT. (p. 171)

THE CATERPILLAR

I find among the poems of Schiller
No mention of the caterpillar,
Nor can I find one anywhere
In Petrarch or in Baudelaire,
So here I sit in extra session
To give my personal impression.
The caterpillar, as it’s called,
Is often hairy, seldom bald;
It looks as if it never shaves;
When as it walks, it walks in waves;
And from the cradle to the chrysalis
It’s utterly speechless, songless, whistleless. (p. 183)

THE MANATEE

The manatee is harmless
And conspicuously charmless.
Luckily the manatee
Is quite devoid of vanity. (p. 185)
.
.

THE PANTHER

The panther is like a leopard,
Except it hasn’t been peppered.
Should you behold a panther crouch,
Prepare to say Ouch.
Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther. (p. 170)

THE COW

The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk. (p. 163)

THE LAMA

The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l llama. (p. 163)

THE PIG

The pig, if I am not mistaken,
Supplies us sausage, ham and bacon.
Let others say his heart is big–
I call it stupid of the pig. (p. 164)

THE DOG

The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state the dog is full of love.
I’ve also proved, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest. (p. 189)

THE RHINOCEROS

The rhino is a homely beast,
For human eyes he’s not a feast.
Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I’ll stare at something less prepoceros. (p. 164)

THE GERM

A mighty creature is the germ,
Through 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. (p. 210)

CAN I GET YOU A GLASS OF WATER?

One trouble with a cough,
It never quite comes off.
Just when you think you’re through coughing
There’s another cough in the offing. (p. 224)

THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN

I’ve never seen an abominable snowman,
I’m hoping not to see one,
I’m also hoping, if I do,
That it will be a wee one. (p. 240)

He wrote lots of other stuff, much of it longer and some of a more serious nature, but it is these charming bits of verse that I find so captivating.

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One response

3 07 2010
Muff

I, too, love Ogden Nash — he can always bring a smile and a giggle. I used to read some of his funnier ones to my students, and they saw that poetry can be a real pleasure.
Peace,
Muff

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