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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
93205 Soliloquy In Circles Comments and analysis of Soliloquy In Circles by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
44073 Everybody Tells Me Everything
34104 Lines On Facing Forty
32044 Celery Comments and analysis of Celery by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
19614 Very Like A Whale Comments and analysis of Very Like A Whale by Ogden Nash 7 Comments
16829 Last Night I Saw Upon the Stair Comments and analysis of Last Night I Saw Upon the Stair by Ogden Nash 36 Comments
13802 A Drink With Something In It Comments and analysis of A Drink With Something In It by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
13643 A Word To Husbands Comments and analysis of A Word To Husbands by Ogden Nash 24 Comments
12840 A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty Comments and analysis of A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty by Ogden Nash 5 Comments
12836 The Turtle Comments and analysis of The Turtle by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
11708 The Duck
11319 Adventures Of Isabel Comments and analysis of Adventures Of Isabel by Ogden Nash 5 Comments
10912 Fleas Comments and analysis of Fleas by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
10614 I Do, I Will, I Have Comments and analysis of I Do, I Will, I Have by Ogden Nash 35 Comments
10561 The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus Comments and analysis of The Boy Who Laughed At Santa Claus by Ogden Nash 30 Comments
10380 To My Valentine Comments and analysis of To My Valentine by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
10307 Always Marry An April Girl Comments and analysis of Always Marry An April Girl by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
10043 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
9909 Custard The Dragon And The Wicked Knight Comments and analysis of Custard The Dragon And The Wicked Knight by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
9725 The Germ Comments and analysis of The Germ by Ogden Nash 10 Comments
9143 The Pig Comments and analysis of The Pig by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
9101 The Parent Comments and analysis of The Parent by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
8651 First Child ... Second Child
8449 Reflection On Babies
8448 The Perfect Husband
8240 A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor Comments and analysis of A Tale Of The Thirteenth Floor by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
8229 Reflections On Ice-Breaking Comments and analysis of Reflections On Ice-Breaking by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
8157 The Porcupine Comments and analysis of The Porcupine by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
8021 The Ant
7895 The Jellyfish
7461 The Tale of Custard the Dragon Comments and analysis of The Tale of Custard the Dragon by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
7315 Pretty Halcyon Days
7287 The Dog Comments and analysis of The Dog by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
7138 The Lion
7076 The Hippopotamus Comments and analysis of The Hippopotamus by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
7062 The Hunter Comments and analysis of The Hunter by Ogden Nash 4 Comments
6954 No Doctor's Today, Thank You
6887 Come On In, The Senility Is Fine
6851 The Fly
6699 The Cow Comments and analysis of The Cow by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6677 Tableau At Twilight Comments and analysis of Tableau At Twilight by Ogden Nash 11 Comments
6660 Grandpa Is Ashamed
6654 The Firefly Comments and analysis of The Firefly by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
6616 The People Upstairs Comments and analysis of The People Upstairs by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6571 Crossing The Border Comments and analysis of Crossing The Border by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
6567 The Romantic Age
6420 The Middle Comments and analysis of The Middle by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
6307 The Eel Comments and analysis of The Eel by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
6201 The Swan
6095 Just Keep Quiet And Nobody Will Notice
6043 The Chipmunk Comments and analysis of The Chipmunk by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
5881 Look What You Did, Christopher!
5857 The Rhinoceros
5773 Family Court Comments and analysis of Family Court by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
5739 The Guppy Comments and analysis of The Guppy by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
5722 Lines Indited With All The Depravity Of Poverty
5712 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
5665 Old Men Comments and analysis of Old Men by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
5622 Peekabo, I Almost See You
5585 The Purist Comments and analysis of The Purist by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
5530 Song Of The Open Road Comments and analysis of Song Of The Open Road by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
5416 Requiem Comments and analysis of Requiem by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
5402 The Termite
5305 The Catsup Bottle
5213 The Cuckoo
5202 Oh To Be Odd!
5169 The Centipede Comments and analysis of The Centipede by Ogden Nash 16 Comments
5109 The Shrimp
5089 Columbus
4999 The Wasp Comments and analysis of The Wasp by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
4925 You Can Be A Republican, I'm A Genocrat
4809 Song To Be Sung By The Father Of Infant Female Children
4724 Biological Reflection
4710 The Abominable Snowman
4592 Reflection On Caution
4456 Further Reflections On Parsley
4347 À Bas Ben Adhem Comments and analysis of À Bas Ben Adhem by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
4298 The Ostrich
4273 Reflection On A Wicked World Comments and analysis of Reflection On A Wicked World by Ogden Nash 3 Comments
4193 Goody For Our Side And Your Side Too
4126 Introspective Reflection
4118 No, You Be A Lone Eagle
4074 Winter Complaint
4061 Possessions Are Nine Points Of Conversation
4058 Portrait Of The Artist As A Prematurely Old Man
4044 The Cantaloupe
3984 Old Dr. Valentine To His Son
3910 PG Wooster, Just As He Useter
3850 One Third Of The Calendar
3833 The Joyous Malingerer
3758 The Clean Plater
3727 What's The Use?
3705 One From One Leaves Two
3703 Lather As You Go Comments and analysis of Lather As You Go by Ogden Nash 7 Comments
3675 Kipling's Vermont
3645 The Sniffle
3580 So Does Everybody Else, Only Not So Much
3526 Good-By Now or Pardon My Gauntlet Comments and analysis of Good-By Now or Pardon My Gauntlet by Ogden Nash 2 Comments
3411 The Solitary Huntsman
3194 Reflection On The Fallibility Of Nemesis
3071 Samson Agonistes
2635 The Squab
1601 A Caution To Everybody Comments and analysis of A Caution To Everybody by Ogden Nash 47 Comments
981 Listen...
691 The Camel Comments and analysis of The Camel by Ogden Nash 14 Comments
369 More About People Comments and analysis of More About People by Ogden Nash 45 Comments
345 Tin Wedding Whistle
328 Spring Comes To Murray Hill
259 Common Cold Comments and analysis of Common Cold by Ogden Nash 9 Comments
248 Children's Party
242 What Almost Every Woman Knows Sooner Or Later
226 The Terrible People Comments and analysis of The Terrible People by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
211 I Didn't Go To Church Today Comments and analysis of I Didn't Go To Church Today by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
210 My Dream
200 The Octopus
146 The Praying Mantis Comments and analysis of The Praying Mantis by Ogden Nash 1 Comment
140 Lines To Be Embroidered On A Bib Comments and analysis of Lines To Be Embroidered On A Bib by Ogden Nash 2 Comments


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