Until today I knew two things about Ogden Nash:
- 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.
- 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 FLYGod in His wisdom made the fly And then forgot to tell us why. (p. 175)
THE TERMITESome 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 KITTENThe trouble with a kitten is THAT Eventually it becomes a CAT. (p. 171)
THE CATERPILLARI 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 PANTHERThe 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 COWThe cow is of the bovine ilk; One end is moo, the other, milk. (p. 163)
THE LAMAThe 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 DOGThe 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 RHINOCEROSThe 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 GERMA 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 SNOWMANI’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.