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Biography of Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash (1902 - 1971)

A master of light, whimsical, and sometimes nonsensical verse, Nash started his writing career at Doubleday Page Publishers, where he wrote his first children's book with Joseph Algers, The Cricket of Garador, in 1925. After six years of writing advertising copy as an editor and publicist at Doubleday, Nash claimed, he began his career in humorous poetry by scribbling one afternoon. His scribbles were to become a poem called Spring Comes to Murray Hill, which he threw away. Upon some thought, however, he retrieved it from the wastebasket and sent it to The New Yorker. His first piece of satiric verse was published in 1930.

After "Murray Hill" Nash's work began to appear in other periodicals. He was prolific enough that he published a collection of his poetry, Hard Lines, in 1931. Hard Lines sold out seven printings in its first year and catapulted Nash into his role as the master of light verse. In 1932 Nash left Doubleday to join the editorial staff of The New Yorker. His steady and lengthy affiliation with the magazine helped establish its distinctive tone and sense of humor. According to poet Archibald MacLeish, Nash "altered the sensibility of his time." Even after the widespread reception of his first book, however, Nash still insisted that the whole thing was an accident. He had already become quite popular with the general public through his work in The New Yorker and "Information Please," a radio quiz show. Eventually he began to write full-time, publishing over two dozen books of poetry and prose in his lifetime.

In an environment in which people cared little about poetry, Nash managed to be one of the most popular and most quoted poets of his time, coining such phrases as "candy is dandy but liquor is quicker." His turn of the phrase, his puns, and his nonsensical rhymes appealed to people of all ages. While speaking in the Library of Congress auditorium, Nash suggested that the average man, surviving the perils of the nuclear age, needed not only missiles, submarines, and a fallout shelter, but also a few lighthearted laughs to save him.

Although the Atlantic Monthly heralded Nash as "God's gift to the United States" for his insightful commentary on 20th-century America, his work had international appeal. He was known as the Everyman of his time, the poet of the ordinary and universal. His poems were humorous not only because they made people laugh, but also because they contained some truth of human experience. His signature style used exaggeration, an element of surprise, and absurdity juxtaposed with the universal experience with which the average reader can identify. He was well regarded by critics and the public alike for his inventive titles, his unlikely rhymes, and his ridiculous play on words. Throughout his career a variety of publications from the Boston Herald to the Saturday Review of Literature sang critical praise for his work.

Although a great fan of Edward Lear and the limerick, Nash possessed a style that was very irregular indeed. Sometimes his poems contained only a handful of words; at other times they went on for several lines before ending in a clever or sometimes nonsensical rhyme. On many occasions he invented a word to fit the rhyme: "Each spring they beautify our suburb, the ladies of the garden cluburb" ("Correction: Eve Delved and Adam Span"). His other rhymes include such sets as nostrilly/tonsilly/irresponsilly ("Fahrenheit Gesundheit") and tortoises/porpoises/corpoises ("Don't Cry, Darling, lt's Blood All Right").

Not only are his lines and rhymes irregular, but the length of his poems varied greatly. Some verses would go on for pages at a time, while others began and ended abruptly in two lines. It is quite possible that Nash has written on of the shortest poems in the English language, "Reflection on a Wicked World": "Purity is obscurity." The themes of his poems varied wildly as well. From getting eyeglasses as an old man to traveling in Europe, no subject was too banal or far-fetched for Nash. His middle-class life and family provided no end of inspiration. He wrote of proud parenting, the folly of being a husband, suburban crowds, diets, vacations, fatherhood, and anything else he could think of.

Through his numerous volumes Nash became well established as a writer of light verse. Even after Hollywood expressed interest in his work, poetry remained his primary source of income. Although none of his screenplays were produced, his work was oppositioned several times, providing enough money for him and his wife to travel to Europe. Eventually he returned to the East Coast to continue writing verse. He also lectured extensively throughout the United States and England. Through his lecture tours he developed a deep respect and keen understanding of his fellow man, which his work reflected. His television appearances in the 1950s (such as "Masquerade Party") also helped increase his popularity.

Nash also renewed his interest in children’s literature in the 1950s. He believed that his writing was not just for kids, but rather lay in a gray area between child and adult worlds. In his numerous volumes for children, such as Custard the Dragon (1959), Nash continues his setting for universal truth. Nash’s approach to children is neither condescending nor mocking, however; in fact, his whimsical yet serious attitude toward the young has gained him respect among children of all ages.

When he was not writing poetry, Nash appeared on various radio game and comedy shows in the 1940s and wrote scores for TV shows in the 1950s, including lyrics for the show "Peter and the Wolf." In 1943 Nash collaborated with Kurt Weill and S. J. Perelman on One Touch of Venus, a musical comedy. He continued to write, publish and lecture until very close to the end of his life.



117 Poems written by Ogden Nash

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | [Page Views] | Comments | First Lines


Page ViewsPoemComments
94133 Soliloquy In Circles Comments and analysis of Soliloquy In Circles by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
44160 Everybody Tells Me Everything
34156 Lines On Facing Forty
32212 Celery Comments and analysis of Celery by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
19698 Very Like A Whale Comments and analysis of Very Like A Whale by Ogden Nash 7 Comments
16970 Last Night I Saw Upon the Stair Comments and analysis of Last Night I Saw Upon the Stair by Ogden Nash 37 Comments
13921 A Drink With Something In It Comments and analysis of A Drink With Something In It by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
13811 A Word To Husbands Comments and analysis of A Word To Husbands by Ogden Nash 24 Comments
13021 A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty Comments and analysis of A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty by Ogden Nash 5 Comments
12915 The Turtle Comments and analysis of The Turtle by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
11800 The Duck
11437 Adventures Of Isabel Comments and analysis of Adventures Of Isabel by Ogden Nash 5 Comments
11093 Fleas Comments and analysis of Fleas by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
10744 I Do, I Will, I Have Comments and analysis of I Do, I Will, I Have by Ogden Nash 35 Comments
10677 The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus Comments and analysis of The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus by Ogden Nash 30 Comments
10457 To My Valentine Comments and analysis of To My Valentine by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
10429 Always Marry An April Girl Comments and analysis of Always Marry An April Girl by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
10185 Bankers Are Just Like Anybody Else, Except Richer Comments and analysis of Bankers Are Just Like Anybody Else, Except Richer by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
10015 Custard The Dragon And The Wicked Knight Comments and analysis of Custard The Dragon And The Wicked Knight by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
9818 The Germ Comments and analysis of The Germ by Ogden Nash 14 Comments
9240 The Pig Comments and analysis of The Pig by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
9187 The Parent Comments and analysis of The Parent by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
8759 First Child ... Second Child
8552 The Perfect Husband
8519 Reflection On Babies
8341 A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor Comments and analysis of A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
8307 Reflections On Ice-Breaking Comments and analysis of Reflections On Ice-Breaking by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
8229 The Porcupine Comments and analysis of The Porcupine by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
8133 The Ant
7963 The Jellyfish
7565 The Tale of Custard the Dragon Comments and analysis of The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
7390 The Dog Comments and analysis of The Dog by Ogden Nash 5 Comments
7385 Pretty Halcyon Days
7203 The Lion
7185 The Hippopotamus Comments and analysis of The Hippopotamus by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
7142 The Hunter Comments and analysis of The Hunter by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
7032 No Doctor's Today, Thank You
6974 Come On In, The Senility Is Fine
6920 The Fly
6765 Tableau At Twilight Comments and analysis of Tableau At Twilight by Ogden Nash 14 Comments
6752 The Cow Comments and analysis of The Cow by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6735 Grandpa Is Ashamed
6712 The Firefly Comments and analysis of The Firefly by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
6710 The People Upstairs Comments and analysis of The People Upstairs by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6638 Crossing The Border Comments and analysis of Crossing The Border by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6630 The Romantic Age
6507 The Middle Comments and analysis of The Middle by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
6410 The Eel Comments and analysis of The Eel by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
6288 The Swan
6169 Just Keep Quiet And Nobody Will Notice
6137 The Chipmunk Comments and analysis of The Chipmunk by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
5960 Look What You Did, Christopher!
5942 The Rhinoceros
5850 Family Court Comments and analysis of Family Court by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
5836 The Guppy Comments and analysis of The Guppy by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
5792 To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them Comments and analysis of To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
5785 Lines Indited With All The Depravity Of Poverty
5770 Old Men Comments and analysis of Old Men by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
5693 Peekabo, I Almost See You
5650 The Purist Comments and analysis of The Purist by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
5604 Song Of The Open Road Comments and analysis of Song Of The Open Road by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
5506 Requiem Comments and analysis of Requiem by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
5467 The Termite
5415 The Catsup Bottle
5324 The Centipede Comments and analysis of The Centipede by Ogden Nash 16 Comments
5280 The Cuckoo
5274 Oh To Be Odd!
5181 Columbus
5173 The Shrimp
5078 The Wasp Comments and analysis of The Wasp by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
4996 You Can Be A Republican, I'm A Genocrat Comments and analysis of You Can Be A Republican, I'm A Genocrat by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
4887 Song To Be Sung By The Father Of Infant Female Children
4789 Biological Reflection
4785 The Abominable Snowman
4680 Reflection On Caution
4512 Further Reflections On Parsley
4422 À Bas Ben Adhem Comments and analysis of À Bas Ben Adhem by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
4403 The Ostrich
4349 Reflection On A Wicked World Comments and analysis of Reflection On A Wicked World by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
4267 Goody For Our Side And Your Side Too
4206 Introspective Reflection
4191 No, You Be A Lone Eagle
4142 Winter Complaint
4114 Possessions Are Nine Points Of Conversation
4107 The Cantaloupe
4095 Portrait Of The Artist As A Prematurely Old Man
4039 Old Dr. Valentine To His Son
3966 PG Wooster, Just As He Useter
3911 One Third Of The Calendar
3898 The Joyous Malingerer
3848 What's The Use?
3829 The Clean Plater
3788 Lather As You Go Comments and analysis of Lather As You Go by Ogden Nash 8 Comments
3779 One From One Leaves Two
3738 Kipling's Vermont
3711 The Sniffle
3660 So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much
3583 Good-By Now or Pardon My Gauntlet Comments and analysis of Good-By Now or Pardon My Gauntlet by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
3482 The Solitary Huntsman
3298 Reflection On The Fallibility Of Nemesis
3119 Samson Agonistes
2673 The Squab
1840 A Caution To Everybody Comments and analysis of A Caution To Everybody by Ogden Nash 47 Comments
1267 Listen...
836 The Camel Comments and analysis of The Camel by Ogden Nash 15 Comments
533 Tin Wedding Whistle
520 More About People Comments and analysis of More About People by Ogden Nash 49 Comments
493 Spring Comes To Murray Hill
384 Common Cold Comments and analysis of Common Cold by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
353 What Almost Every Woman Knows Sooner Or Later
347 Children's Party
337 I Didn't Go To Church Today Comments and analysis of I Didn't Go To Church Today by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
306 The Octopus
290 The Terrible People Comments and analysis of The Terrible People by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
280 My Dream
207 Lines To Be Embroidered On A Bib Comments and analysis of Lines To Be Embroidered On A Bib by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
199 The Praying Mantis Comments and analysis of The Praying Mantis by Ogden Nash 1 Comment


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