“Reflections on Ice-Breaking” by Ogden Nash:
Ogden Nash may well be considered Dr. Seuss’ older, brattier brother. Both Ogden Nash and Dr. Seuss are among the greatest writers of what is generally referred to as nonsensical poetry, but that is definitely not a correct definition. Nonsensical poetry is better used to describe the words coming out of the mouths of every Republican politician; what Nash and Seuss do is include some offbeat made-up words to make very sensible points. Ogden Nash, like Seuss, is capable of making you laugh out just moments before you realize that what you just read was incredibly insightful and profound.
Born Frederick Ogden Nash not long after the turn of the last century in New York, his route to poetry may have been due to the fact that he was almost totally isolated within a dark room for nearly a year following a very serious eye infection. It was during this brief respite from reality that Nash’s mother home-schooled him and, due to his vision problems, he was forced to rely on his hearing and memory more. Reading an Ogden Nash poem is something akin to listening to music. You can see the bizarre and off-kilter images he often utilizes and, even more so, you can imagine a revolutionary Broadway musical based on his sing-song lyrics. First there was Seussical the Musical; why not Nash the Musical?
“Ode to a Baby” by Ogden Nash:
A bit of talcum
Is always walcum.
Were he alive today, Ogden Nash might well be writing for The Simpsons instead of poetry. Like the vast majority of Simpsons writers, he attended Harvard, albeit not for long due to money constraints. Forced to drop out of college to help support his family, he went though a variety of jobs-is there any writer in the world who can’t immediately relate? He was a teacher, a salesman and a copywriter before finally landing a job as a writer for the New Yorker. Before long he was publishing books of his poems and giving lectures. Listening to Nash read his comedic odes must have been something, even though he professed to hating the lecture circuit. (Who can blame him?) Still, the money brought in by public readings was enough to ensure that his family no longer had to worry about being tossed onto the street.
“Everybody Tells Me Everything” by Ogden Nash:
I find it very difficult to enthuse
Over the current news.
Just when you think that at least the outlook is so black that it can grow no blacker, it worsens,
And that is why I do not like the news, because there has never been an era when so many things were going so right for so many of the wrong persons.
That one is particularly timely, eh? Or should that be timeless. That is the thing about Nash’s poetry, it truly is timeless. And there is something in his writing to bring a smile to your face regardless of you age or background. If you aren’t familiar with Ogden Nash-and you probably already are, but just don’t know it-take the time to check his works out here. I guarantee that it’s a better way to spend fifteen minutes than on the phone with Geico.
“The Ostrich” by Ogden Nash:The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra.
It has such long and lofty legs,
I’m glad it sits to lay its eggs.