General Discussion
 General Discussion 

eMule -> The Poetry Archive -> Forums -> General Discussion

Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: August 19, 2004 12:55PM

Very Like a Whale

One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by the authors of simile and
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to
go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That that Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and
thus hinder longevity.
We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were
gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a
wold on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy
there are great many things.
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple
and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was
actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail and a big red
mouth and big white teeth and did he say Woof Woof?
Frankly I think it is very unlikely, and all you were entitled to say,
at the very most,
Was that the Assyrian cohorts came down like a lot of Assyrian
cohorts about to destroy the Hebrew host.
But that wasn't fancy enough for Lord Byron, oh dear me no, he
had to invent a lot of figures of speech and then interpolate them,
With the result that whenever you mention Old Testament soldiers
to people they say Oh yes, they're the ones that a lot of
wolves dressed up in gold and purple ate them.
That's the kind of thing that's being done all the time by poets,
from Homer to Tennyson;
They're always comparing ladies to lilies and veal to venison,
And they always say things like that the snow is a white blanket
after a winter storm.
Oh it is, is it, all right then, you sleep under a six-inch blanket of
snow and I'll sleep under a half-inch blanket of unpoetical
blanket material and we'll see which one keeps warm,
And after that maybe you'll begin to comprehend dimly
What I mean by too much metaphor and simile.

-- Ogden Nash

Re: Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: Johnny SansCulo (
Date: August 19, 2004 01:10PM

The camel has a single hump; The dromedary, two; Or else the other way around, I'm never sure. Are you?
--Ogden Nash

Re: Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: August 19, 2004 01:51PM

One of the few of his that lacks the extended lines and random (though pleasing to the ear) rhythm which became his signature:


Some singers sing of ladies' eyes,
And some of ladies' lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
The Oxford Book of English Verse
Is lush with lyrics tender;
A poet, I guess, is more or less
Preoccupied with gender.
Yet I, though custom call me crude,
Prefer to sing in praise of food.

Yes, food,
Just any old kind of food.
Pooh for the cook,
And pooh for the price!
Some of it's nicer but all of it's
Pheasant is pleasant, of
And terrapin, too, is tasty,
Lobster I freely endorse,
In pâté or patty or pastry.
But there's nothing the matter
with butter,
And nothing the matter with jam,
And the warmest of greetings I utter
To the ham and the yam and the clam.
For they're food,
All food,
And I think very highly of
Though I'm broody at times
When bothered by rhymes,
I brood
on Food.

Some painters paint the sapphire sea,
And some the gathering storm.
Others portray young lambs at
But most, the female form.
'Twas trite in that primeval
When painting got its start,
That a lady with her garments
Is Life, but is she Art?
By undraped nymphs
I am not wooed;
I'd rather painters painted food.

Just food,
Just any old kind of food.
Let it be sour
Or let it be sweet,
As long as you're sure it is
something to eat.
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you'd win a devotion
And asparagus tips
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an
As long as it's something to
If it's food,
It's food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On Food.

Reads like Dr. Seuss, no? Oddly, The Book of Humorous Verse by Caroline Wells switches some of the stanzas, with "Some painters paint the sapphire sea" being the first one. Since her book was published in 1936, and Nash was then shown in the Contemporary Verse section, I suspect that is how Ogen had it originally.

a short story
Posted by: ilza (
Date: August 19, 2004 04:42PM

In 1999 I had the chance to put one of his grandaughters,
Frances, in contact with a woman who had a 1967 letter from Nash
to her husband(who was a doctor, and had just died),
which included a 2 page poem

she was wondering what to do with it, whether she should sell it or give it to a collection/collectable whatever ..

I knew Frances ( how dare I call her by her first name !) was/is
trying to revive all material available,
so I thought that was a good idea - to put them in contact

This lady was so thrilled to hear from a relative of Mr. Nash,
that she gave his grandaughter the letter instead of keeping or selling it.
and I was as thrilled to get a marvelous letter from Frances,
who also included photocopies of the letter/poem

it is amazing how generous and polite people can be

a favorite song
Posted by: ilza (
Date: August 20, 2004 01:48PM

Speak low
(Ogden Nash - Kurt Weill)

Speak low
When you speak love
Our summer day
Withers away
Too soon, too soon

Speak low
When you speak love
Our moment is swift
Like ships adrift,
Were swept apart
Too soon
Speak low
Darling speak low
Love is a spark
Lost in the dark
Too soon, too soon

I feel
Wherever I go
That tomorrow is here
Tomorrow is near
And always too soon
Time is so old
And love's so brief
Love is pure gold
And time a thief.

We're late,
Darling we're late

The curtain descends,
Everything ends
Too soon, too soon
I wait,
Darling I wait
When you speak low to me,
Speak love to me and soon.

Re: Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: J.H.SUMMERS (
Date: August 20, 2004 09:54PM

Mr. Nash had so many witty and clever poems that it would be hard to pick a favorite, but I always did like this one,


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.


Re: Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: IanB (
Date: August 20, 2004 10:16PM

Interesting, Ilza. That one is so non-typical for Ogden Nash, I wonder how much of it was penned by Kurt Weill.

For a contrasting expression of much the same poetic ideas, see 'Song Be Delicate' by John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942):

Ogden wrote some memorable short ones:

The Hunter

The hunter crouches in his blind
'Neath camouflage of every kind,
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys.
This grown-up man, with pluck and luck,
Is hoping to outwit a duck.

Re: Happy Birthday, Ogden Nash
Posted by: lg (
Date: August 20, 2004 10:59PM

Here is Ogden bargaining with the Lord Almighty:

I Didn't Go to Church Today

I didn’t go to church today,
I trust the Lord to understand.
The surf was swirling blue and white,
The children swirling on the sand.
He knows, He knows how brief my stay,
How brief this spell of summer weather,
He knows when I am said and done
We’ll have plenty of time together.


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This poetry forum at powered by Phorum.