Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) possessed the secret of becoming a best-selling poet: make ’em laugh. He published scads of books in his lifetime and was the darling of the with-it magazines: The New Yorker, where he was on staff, as well as its friendly competitors, Saturday Review, Cosmopolitan, Saturday Evening Post, Esquire. Even the lady’s shelter magazines published his clever verse.

Ogden often adopted a hapless persona, a voice part urbane curmudgeon and part holy oaf. Not all the humor has weathered well; his caricatures of women seem especially wince-worthy today. But no one had more fun with words than Ogden Nash.

I Remember Yule

I guess I am just an old fogey.
I guess I am headed for the last roundup, so come along little dogey.
I can remember when winter was wintery and summer was estival;
I can even remember when Christmas was a family festival.
Yes, I can remember when Christmas was an occasion for fireside rejoicing
           and general good will.
And now it is just the day that it’s only X shopping days until.
I can remember when we knew Christmas was coming without being reminded
            by the sponsor
And the announcer.
What, five times a week at 8:15 P.M., do the herald angels sing?
That a small deposit now will buy you an option on a genuine diamond ring.
What is the message we receive with Good King Wenceslas?
That if we rush to the corner of Ninth and Main we can get that pink mink
           housecoat very inexpensceslaus.
I know what came upon the midnight clear to our backward parents,
            but what comes to us?
A choir imploring us to Come all ye faithful and steal a 1939 convertible
            at psychoneurotic prices from Grinning Gus.
Christmas is a sitting duck for sponsors, it’s so commercial,
And yet so noncontroversial.
Well, you reverent sponsors redolent of frankincense and myrrh, come
           smear me with bear–grease and call me an un-American hellion.
This is my declaration of independence and rebellion.
This year I’m going to disconnect everything electrical in the house and spend
           the Christmas season like Tiny Tim and Mr. Pickwick;
You make me sickwick.

The Germ

A mighty creature is the germ,
Though 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.

Spring Song

Listen, buds, it’s March twenty-first;
Don’t you know enough to burst?
Come on, birds, unlock your throats!
Come on, gardeners, shed your coats!
Come on zephyrs, come on flowers,
Come on grass, and violet showers!
And come on, lambs, in frisking flocks!
Salute the vernal equinox!
Twang the cheerful lute and zither!
Spring is absolutely hither!
Yester eve was dark despair,
With winter, winter, everywhere;
Today, upon the other hand,
“Tis spring throughout this happy land.
Oh, such is Nature’s chiaroscuro,
According to the Weather Bureau.

Then giddy-ap, Napoleon! Giddy-ap, Gideon!
The sun has crossed the right meridian!
What though the blasts of Winter sting?
Officially, at least, it’s Spring,
And be it far from our desire
To make the Weather Man a liar!

So, blossom, ye parks, with cozy benches,
Occupied by blushing wenches!
Pipe, ye frogs, while swains are sighing,
And furnaces unwept are dying!
Crow, ye cocks, a little bit louder!
Mount, ye sales of paint and powder!
Croon, ye crooner, yet more croonishly!
Shine, ye moon, a lot more moonishly!
And oh ye brooklets, burst your channels!
And oh ye camphor, greet ye flannels!
And bloom, ye clothesline, bloom with wash,
Where erstwhile trudged the grim galosh!
Ye transit lines, abet our follies
By turning loose your open trolleys!
And ye, ye waking hibernators,
Drain anti-freeze from your radiators!
While ye, ye otherwise useless dove,
Remember, please, to rhyme with love.

Then giddy-ap, Napoleon! Giddy-ap, Gideon!
The sun has crossed the right meridian!
What though the blasts of Winter sting?
Officially, at least, it’s Spring!

The Catsup Bottle

First a little
Then a lottle

So Penseroso

Come, megrims, mollygrubs and collywobbles!
Come, gloom that limps, and misery that hobbles!
Come also, most exquisite melancholiage,
As dark and decadent as November foliage!
I crave to shudder in your moist embrace,
To feel your oystery fingers on my face.
This is my hour of sadness and of soulfulness,
And cursed be he who dissipates my dolefulness.
The world is wide, isn’t it?
The world is roomy.
Isn’t there room, isn’t it,
For a man to be gloomy?
Bring me a bathysphere, kindly,
Maybe like Beebe’s,
Leave me alone in it, kindly,
With my old heebie-jeebies.
I do not desire to be cheered,
I desire to retire, I am thinking of growing a beard,
A sorrowful beard, with a mournful, a dolorous hue in it,
With ashes and glue in it.
I want to be drunk with despair,
I want to caress my care,
I do not wish to be blithe,
I wish to recoil and writhe,
I will revel in cosmic woe,
And I want my woe to show,
This is the morbid moment,
This is the ebony hour.
Anoint thee, sweetness and light!
I want to be dark and sour!
Away with the bird that twitters!
All that glitters is jitters!
Roses, roses are gray,
Violets cry Boo! and frighten me.
Sugar is a diabetic,
And people conspire to brighten me.
Go hence, people, go hence!
Go sit on a picket fence!
Go gargle with mineral oil,
Go out and develop a boil!
Melancholy is what I brag and boast of,
Melancholy I mean to make the most of,
You beaming optimists shall not destroy it.
But while I am at it, I intend to enjoy it.
Go, people, feed on kewpies and soap,
And remember, please, that when I mope, I mope!

The Wendigo

The Wendigo,
The Wendigo!
Its eyes are ice and indigo!
Its blood is rank and yellowish!
Its voice is hoarse and bellowish!
Its tentacles are slithery,
And scummy,
Its lips are hungry blubbery,
And smacky,
The Wendigo,
The Wendigo!
I saw it just a friend ago!
Last night it lurked in Canada;
Tonight, on your veranada!
As you are lolling hammockwise
It contemplates you stomachwise.
You loll,
It contemplates,
It lollops.
The rest is merely gulps and gollops.

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