A STASH OF OGDEN NASH (8/19/02–5/19/71)

He was born and bred in the town of Rye
Which is said to be in the state of N. Y.
His forebears, ’tis writ, founded Nashville, Tennessee….
Though I admit, you couldn’t prove it by me.
Whatever the bit, he grew up by and by;
He had a dry wit and wrote verse that was wry —
For which he became famous before he did die.
Yes, he died on this date in nineteen seventy-one.
His life made us smile, but his death was less fun.

When I was growing up, Ogden Nash was a particular favorite of mine. In addition to writing over a dozen books, his poems appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies. Here’s a selection of four from my collection of yore:

There was a young belle of Old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patches.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She drawled, When Ah itches, Ah scratches!

THE PURIST

I give you now Professor Twist,
A conscientious scientist.
Trustees exclaimed, “He never bungles!”
And sent him off to distant jungles.
Camped on a tropic riverside,
One day he missed his loving bride.
She had, the guide informed him later,
Been eaten by an alligator.
Professor Twist could not but smile.
“You mean,” he said, “A crocodile.”

THE PERFECT HUSBAND

He tells you when you’ve got on too much lipstick
And helps you with your girdle when your hips stick.

A child need not be very clever
To learn that “Later” means “Never.”

Nash could also write seriously good songs. Among them (as lyricist with composer Kurt Weill) was SPEAK LOW for the 1943 Broadway musical ONE TOUCH OF VENUS: