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  • mistermuse 12:00 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Edgar Guest, , , Ogden Nash, ONE TOUCH OF VENUS, , , ,   


    I’d rather be a great bad poet than a bad good poet. –Ogden Nash

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Today is the birthday, not of Ogden Nash, but of Edgar Guest (Aug. 20, 1881). And who, you might ask, was Mr. Guest, and why is he my special Guest for this post? (Sorry about that, but to paraphrase Will Rogers, I never met a pun I didn’t like.) Though he is all but forgotten today, in his day Guest was a poet so popular that he was known as the People’s Poet. Unfortunately for him, this lofty regard was not shared by more discriminating appraisers such as Dorothy Parker, who is reported to have declared:

    I’d rather flunk my Wassermann test*
    than read a poem by Edgar Guest.”

    *a test for syphilis

    Were his poems really that bad? Here are a few examples; you be the judge:

    Home ain’t a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
    Afore it’s home there’s got t’ be a heap o’ living in it.
    –from his most famous poem, titled “Home”

    When you’re up against a trouble,
    Meet it squarely, face to face,
    Lift your chin, and set your shoulders,
    Plant your feet and take a brace.
    –from “See It Through”

    Now, I’m not saying I’d rather flunk a syphilis test than read a poem by Edgar Guest, but August 18 was/is BAD POETRY DAY, and one wonders why that date was chosen rather than August 20, which would have coincided perfectly with the birth date of the critics’ poetaster child for BAD POETRY DAY. Of course, it’s possible there are worse poets than Guest, so perhaps neglected candidates for the honor would have raised a stink (as opposed to raising a stinker, like the parents of a certain GOP candidate for President).

    But I digress (the devil made me do it). Back on message, your humble host is more than capable of vying for the honor; as proof, he submits the following for your disapproval:


    It was a dark and stormy night
    On the day I left to stay.
    The sun was shining brightly
    On yon shadows afar away.

    I be starting on a journey
    Just as soon as I know where.
    I’ve packed a lot of nothing
    To unpack when I get there.

    They say the spirit’s willing,
    But the flesh is weak as sin;
    The former is my future —
    The latter is where I’ve been.

    So come, sweet spirit, raise me
    From the heap o’ living dead.
    I surrender — set me free from
    My behind to look ahead.

    And should I meet up with trouble,
    I’ll meet it squarely and not duck;
    I’ll shoulder my chin, a face lift face,
    And just show all-around pluck.

    And if that doesn’t take me
    Beyond that unbending bend,
    I’ll just declare this is where
    Both journey and poem end.

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Back to Mr. Nash. I opened this opus with his “great bad poet/bad good poet” quote. There was a method to my badness: he was America’s preeminent writer of humorous light verse from 1931 until his death in 1971, a favorite of mine, and, apropos to this post’s focus on an August 18-20 time frame, he was born Aug. 19 (1902). So Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash — a wit as a light versifier and, I might add, no twit as a lyricist; witness his words to this tune composed by Kurt Weill, as sung by Eileen Wilson (lip synced by Ava Gardner) and Dick Haymes in the 1948 Hollywooden film version of the play ONE TOUCH OF VENUS:



    • renxkyoko 12:11 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I like it.

      I like poems that are direct and to the point, thus , easy to understand and appreciate.

      Liked by 1 person

    • painkills2 12:20 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Poetry is in the eye of the beholder. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    • Michaeline Montezinos 12:31 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I also like your poem. It reminds me of the one I wrote as Artemus Bumpkin on SWI.

      Liked by 1 person

    • scifihammy 2:41 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think people can be snobs about poetry like they can about art. If you like something, does it matter if the critics think it is good or not?
      I like your poem, and you’re amusing as always. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • mistermuse 8:07 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

        Many thanks (to all four of you) for your comments. My take on the excellent points about the kinds of poetry you (or anyone, for that matter) like and poetry being “in the eye of the beholder,” is that this is TRUE OF MANY THINGS, but is internalized by too few people. Being unable to accept and appreciate that we all see things from our own vantage point (based on our upbringing, culture, religion, maturity, etc.) is, in my opinion, the primary reason why this is such a violent, “my way or the highway” world. Antagonism is no substitute for empathy and gets us nowhere but where we are. We need to get to a better place.

        Liked by 2 people

    • linnetmoss 7:45 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      “Set me free from my behind”? I am going to be laughing all day over this one. I also like “Hollywooden.” But Dick Haymes actually had a good voice.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 8:21 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      It may be hard to believe now, but in the 1940s, Dick Haymes was Frank Sinatra’s biggest rival as the bobbysoxers’ favorite crooner. In my opinion, Haymes had a better voice than Sinatra at that time, although of course Frank went on to reach the heights, while Haymes slid into near-oblivion. His story is a sad one in many ways, and makes for interesting reading for anyone interested.


    • Cynthia Jobin 9:12 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Sounds like that particular dark and stormy night—of all dark and stormy nights—was a most auspicious one, and whether you have a bandage or a banjo on your knee in future, things are looking good for your liberation from your behind. And since your poem is a delight, neitherr I nor Susannah will cry for you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 10:54 am on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve always liked Stephen Foster’s songs such as OH! SUSANNA (from which I borrowed the title of my poem), CAMPTOWN RACES, BEAUTIFUL DREAMER and JEANIE WITH THE LIGHT BROWN HAIR. For those who aren’t familiar with OH! SUSANNA, it goes like this:

      Liked by 1 person

    • D. Wallace Peach 12:05 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I think your poem is too clever to qualify as bad. 🙂 Loved it!

      Liked by 2 people

    • mistermuse 12:13 pm on August 20, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Thank you (I only hope Stephen Foster isn’t turning over in his grave)!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Don Frankel 6:43 pm on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      I like the way Guest sets his chin up. It would make it real easy to land a left hook or a right cross or both. He may not be the worst poet but he’s got to be pretty close.

      Is Dick Haymes trying to sound like Sinatra or is that his natural voice? I know from comments Sinatra made that he couldn’t stand the guy.


    • mistermuse 9:00 pm on August 21, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Don, that Haymes’ natural voice, but I think he shows it to better effect in the DON’T THROW COLD WATER ON THE FLAME OF LOVE clip in my previous post (SAY WHAT AGAIN?).
      Also, both his voice and his acting ability are better displayed in the 1945 version of the film STATE FAIR, with great Rodgers and Hammerstein songs like IT MIGHT AS WELL BE SPRING and IT’S A GRAND NIGHT FOR SINGING.


    • BroadBlogs 9:15 pm on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Happy birthday to Ogden Nash! I say great bad poets have a lot of soul.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 9:47 pm on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      His body of work isn’t bad either! 🙂


    • arekhill1 12:26 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Both my parents would quote Guest when Mom made one of her cherry pies. “As I wend my way to Heaven, I’ll be full of cherry pie,” they would laugh between forkfuls. Didn’t make me like them any better, but I didn’t let it destroy my taste for cherry pie.


    • mistermuse 8:34 am on August 23, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Neither of my parents had any interest in poetry, so I wasn’t subjected to similar experiences at an early age. If there’s a creative writing gene in my family background, it must come from my mother’s Irish ancestors.


  • mistermuse 9:27 am on October 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , Ogden Nash,   


    One year ago today, on the 50th anniversary of the death of Cole Porter, I published a post titled COLE IN ONE. Porter was one of the two preeminent composer-lyricists  (the other being Irving Berlin) of his day, a time in the history of popular music when most songs were written by a team of one (or more) composer(s) and one (or more) lyricist(s)….think George and Ira Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and DeSylva, Brown and Henderson, for examples.

    What made Porter one of a kind was a combination of the unique quality of his melodies and the wit and urbane sophistication of his lyrics, for which he was unrivaled (excepting Lorenz Hart, who wrote lyrics only). This made such a big impression on me when I was young that I “fell in love” with witty, amusing and sometimes poignant rhyme — the kind exemplified non-musically by light verse master Ogden Nash….and even Nash could team up on occasion to write a great song, such as Speak Low (When You Speak Love) with composer Kurt Weill for the 1943 musical One Touch of Venus.

    For this post, I have taken the liberty of taking Cole Porter’s What Is This Thing Called Love for a re-write, interposing my interpretation of the well-known refrain onto Porter’s as-written (but seldom-heard) verse which precedes it. You might call it COLE PORTER A LA MUSE:

    I was a humdrum person,
    Leading a life apart,
    When love flew in through my window wide
    And quickened my humdrum heart.
    Love flew in through my window,
    I was so happy then.
    But after love had stayed a little while,
    Love flew out again.

    What is this thing
    Called love of light verse?
    This funny thing
    I love, called light verse.

    Just who can solve
    Its mystery.
    Why should it make
    A muse of me?

    I saw humor there
    One wonderful day;
    Youth took my heart
    And threw it away.

    That’s why I ask the Lord
    In light of this curse
    What is this thing
    Called love of light verse?

    In case you’ve forgotten how the real refrain goes, here is the song sung as originally written:

    • Don Frankel 4:01 pm on October 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You’re not going to believe this Muse and I’m not joking. Earlier this morning I played golf. On the second tee which is a short par 3, 120 hole, I hit a very nice shot that was headed for the tee. Now if was early and foggy and the green was covered with dew. So when I got the green i couldn’t find the ball. After looking around for a good five minutes it dawned on me where the ball might be that I wouldn’t see it. You got it in the hole. An actual hole in one.

      The fates sometimes are kind and that’s why you are a Muse or should I say The Muse.


    • mistermuse 5:49 pm on October 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Congrats on the hole-in-one, Don. What would be even more amazing is if that was the second hole-in-one you’d ever shot (to match the “PART TWO” of my post). Actually, if you want to claim it’s your second hole-in-one (even if it’s not), I won’t tell anyone. 🙂


    • linnetmoss 6:16 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Amazing early version of the song! I’m fond of Porter and Nash too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 7:39 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The vocalist here was Leslie “Hutch” Hutchinson, who was the Bobby Short of his day (both were sophisticated black cabaret singers with a preference for the songs of sophisticated song writers like Cole Porter, Rodgers & Hart, etc.). Hutch (a generation before Short) was one of the biggest stars in England in the 1920s & 30s and recorded prolifically – I own a few dozen of his original 78 rpm records.


    • arekhill1 8:03 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Cole and a hole? Golf is one of the few vices I haven’t experimented with so far, Sir Don, but congratulations.


    • ladysighs 8:55 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Something needs to be done about this. 🙂


    • mistermuse 10:55 am on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Not sure what, but I’m open to suggestions. 🙂


    • BroadBlogs 3:02 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Have you seen the movie, De-Lovely, based on his life? I thought it was pretty interesting.


    • mistermuse 3:57 pm on October 16, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Haven’t seen it, but (despite mixed reviews) I hear the improvement over the first Cole Porter biopic starring Cary Grant was like the difference between Night and Day, which just happens to be the title of the first one (which I did see, & thought was awful). Most reviewers say Kevin Kline was excellent as Cole Porter in De-Lovely.


    • mistermuse 11:27 am on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      With reference to ladysighs’ comment above that “Something needs to be done about this,” she has indeed “done something” – something completely unexpected, but greatly appreciated. Why not scroll up to her comment, click on her blog and see (and hear) what I mean?


    • rielyn 7:57 pm on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Here is the direct link to ladysighs’ vocal stylings for you, Dad, and your readers too. I sense a great collaboration in the making!

      Amusing Muser


    • mistermuse 8:11 pm on October 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Your internet-challenged dad thanks you very much. One of these years I must learn to do that myself. 🙂


    • barkinginthedark 5:10 pm on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      so great! but where do you find these rare gems? anyway, continue…

      Liked by 1 person

    • barkinginthedark 5:11 pm on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      P.S. you must have a terrific record collection.

      Liked by 1 person

      • mistermuse 5:46 pm on August 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply

        I did have a terrific record collection, but now I have only half a terrific record collection, as I sold my thousands of 78s for reasons I’d rather not think about. I still have my LPs, many of which are compilations or re-issues of old 78s, so between those and the memories of what is gone, I have a lot to draw on when it comes to posting “rare gems.”


    • barkinginthedark 1:02 am on August 29, 2019 Permalink | Reply

      thousands – wow…i’m sorry you had to sell them…a shame. i can only imagine from what you’ve posted what you had. “rare gems” indeed. continue…

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 12:01 am on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Ogden Nash,   

    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!


    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.”


    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:

    • Michaeline Montezinos 12:45 am on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I thoroughly enjoyed the smashing good poems by Ogden Nash.
      Although I wonder, did he ever eat corned beef and hash?

      I liked the song SPEAK LOW from the Broadway musical. I do think I saw this made into a movie with different leading lady, perhaps it was Rita Hayworth. I remembered watching Mary Martin as Peter Pan. Sat on the floor watching her on the old black and white television with my two younger brothers. However, I did not know how beautiful Martin was until I saw the video you posted.

      Thank you for this very informative post, the Nash poems, the video and the sweet childhood memory. mistermuse you made my nightly sojourn very entertaining.


    • mistermuse 6:30 am on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      You’re right, Michaeline – the musical was made into a movie in 1948, however the leading lady was Ava Gardner. The movie was not as critically well received as the Broadway play.

      I agree about Mary Martin. She was never more beautiful than she appears in this clip, but what surprised me even more was how beautiful her voice was when she sang SPEAK LOW. I have records of her singing in later productions such as SOUTH PACIFIC and PETER PAN, and there’s no comparison with her earlier 1943 voice.


    • Don Frankel 8:53 am on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I know this song and I always loved it. For some reason I always associated it with Richard Rogers. Maybe because Mary Martin sang it. But you guys had me searching over the internet looking up the Play and the Movie. I kept replaying the song here while I did.


      • mistermuse 12:14 pm on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

        It’s too bad Nash didn’t write lyrics for more musicals after ONE TOUCH OF VENUS. If SPEAK LOW is any indication, he could have contributed much to our legacy of great show tunes.


    • arekhill1 9:10 am on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Few people have fun dying. It’s why I object to the practice.


    • mistermuse 12:17 pm on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I’m not exactly looking forward to the prospect myself. Hopefully that elusive Fountain of Youth will finally be discovered before that happens.


    • BroadBlogs 12:46 pm on May 19, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Hate to say that I’ve heard of Ogden Nash but never known much about him. I have to check him out.

      Liked by 1 person

    • GP Cox 7:50 am on August 22, 2016 Permalink | Reply

      Nash always brings a smile to my face.

      Liked by 1 person

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