Happy Birthday Ogden Nash

The American poet Frederick Ogden Nash was born at Rye, New York on this day in 1902. After family finances prevented him from finishing even a year at Harvard, he struggled as a school teacher (a class of 14-year-olds caused too much stress), bond broker (he sold but one bond in 18 months, and that to his godmother), advertising copywriter, children’s book author (The Cricket of Carador sold only 900 copies), but finally thrived as an editor at Doubleday. He dashed off some very silly poetry to relieve office boredom, his boss suggested he send a few to the New Yorker where he was first published in 1930. He never was able to sell his more serious poetry, which forced him to write over 1500 pieces that amused us, and a little prose to quote.

An occasional lucky guess as to what makes a wife tick is the best a man can hope for, Even then, no sooner has he learned how to cope with the tick than she tocks.
Family: A unit composed not only of children, but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold.
Happiness is having a scratch for every itch.
Middle age is when you’ve met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.
People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.
Progress might have been all right once, but it’s gone on too long.
– All from Ogden Nash, 1902 – 1971
From Quotes of the Day
So, here is my mostest favouritest Nash poem – I Will Arise And Go Now
In far Tibet
There live a lama,
He got no poppa,
Got no momma,
He got no wife,
He got no chillun,
Got no use
For penicillun,
He got no soap,
He got no opera,
He don’t know Irium
From copra,
He got no songs,
He got no banter,
He don’t know Hope,
He don’t know Cantor,
He got no teeth,
He got no gums,
Don’t eat no Spam,
Don’t need no Tums.
He love to nick him
When he shave;
He also got
No hair to save.
Got no distinction,
No clear head,
Don’t call for Calvert;
Drink milk instead.
He use no lotions
For allurance,
He got no car
And no insurance,
No Alsop warnings,
No Pearson rumor
For this self-centered
Indeed, the
Ignorant Have-Not
Don’t even know
What he don’t got.
If you will mind
The box-tops, comma,
I think I’ll go
And join that lama.
And now for my Balkan readers, the absolutely amazing translation of the poem by Dragoslav Andric which is about a million times better, more rhythmic and funnier than the English original:
Ustajem sad i idem
Cak u Tibet
Zivi lama,
Nema tata,
Nema mama.
Nema zena,
Nema deca,
jok mu treba,
Nema sapun,
Nema plakar,
Ne zna najlon,
Ne zna bakar.
Nema slager,
Nema rok,
Ne zna Presli,
Bitls jok.
Nema desni,
Nema zubi,
Ne zna pasta
Pa u tubi.
Voli sece
Kad se brije,
Bas ga kosa
Briga nije.
Ne zna sljoka
Kao neko,
Nema bonton,
Pije mleko.
Ne zna sta je
Nema kola
Da se slika.
Nema stampa
i te stvari,
To je stari.
Taj sebicnjak
Samo drema,
Nema pojam
Ni sta nema.
Zato, zarez,
Kazem svim,
Idem nadjem
Druzim s njim.

6 responses to “Happy Birthday Ogden Nash

  1. The one-l lama,
    He’s a priest,
    The two-l llama,
    He’s a beast.
    And I will bet
    A silk pajama
    There isn’t any
    Three-l lllama.
    (The author’s attention has been called to a type of conflagration known as the three-alarmer. Pooh.)

  2. Yeah, I know, linguists have been dealing with that limerick for decades!

  3. OK, then, see how you like this one:
      Senescence begins
      And middle age ends
      The day your descendants
      Outnumber your friends.
    And, here’s one for PZ:
      Tell me, O Octopus, I begs,
      Is those things arms, or is they legs?
      I marvel at thee, Octopus;
      If I were thou, I’d call me Us.

  4. Doesn’t “more rhythmic” sort of defy the essence of what makes Ogden Nash so nashy (or gnashy, as he might have put it). His forced rhythm and near rhymes are what make him so distinct. Also, poetry comes so natural to Slavic languages that Andric has an unfair advantage here. Heck, the ingredients to a candy bar could be made to sound beautiful in Serbian.

  5. Thanks for reminding me, Coturnix! I had to mention him on my blog, too … here’s one of my favorites:
    Old Men
    People expect old men to die,
    They do not really mourn old men.
    Old men are different. People look
    At them with eyes that wonder when…
    People watch with unshocked eyes;
    But the old men know when an old man dies.

  6. Slobodan Cekic

    Beautiful blog page; found it accidentaly wanting to mail a friend both the original and the Andric’s tranlation of the poem. Beautiful comments, too.
    ‘ Heck, the ingredients to a candy bar could be made to sound beautiful in Serbian.’ 🙂
    Lol, so exaggerated as this is, there may be something there:) With four different accents, the words are almost sung in the Serbian. Syllable structure of words, especially longer ones is much more pronounced and has a clear-cut rhytm.
    As a little thanks, a poem from the famous Serb rocker, Bora Djordjevic, in original and translated into english. It’s about vanity and truth, quite ironic. I did my best; Bora s original still sounds better by far.:)
    Istina je prljava i ruzna,
    I tako je gadnu niko nece;
    Pa nastrada ni kriva ni duzna
    S istinom sam daleko od srece.
    Laz je slatka, samo laz je vredna,
    Predajem se lazi sa zanosom,
    Istina je gola, ocigledna;
    Namece se, stoji mi pred nosom.
    Istinito ne sme na videlo;
    Istinito nikom nije vazno,
    Mozda bi me nesto postidelo,
    Srecniji sam kada zivim lazno.
    Lagarije moji su aduti,
    Istini sam jezik odrezao;
    Laz govori a istina cuti,
    Duboko sam u laz ogrezao.
    Pravda slepa a istina nema,
    Dva bogalja bez kojih se moze;
    Savest i onako uvek drema,
    Na obrazu djon umesto koze.
    Istina je mnogo istinita,
    Iznutra me zato izjedala;
    Ne pravi se od govana pita,
    Makar govna lepo izgledala.
    Verity is slovenly and ugly,
    So disgusting nobody desires it,
    Though not to blame, it fares often badly,
    For happines I do not require it.
    The lie is sweet, only lie is precious;
    I surrender to the lie with raptus,
    Verity is naked and obvious
    It’s intruding, it stands afore my nose
    The truthful is forbidden to daylight,
    For truthfulness nobody cares really;
    Maybe something would make me embarassed,
    Am happier when am living falsely.
    The pretension is my strongest trump-card,
    To verity I have cut the tongue off,
    Lie is speaking, verity stays muted
    I soaked myself deeply into the bluff.
    Justice is blind and verity tongueless,
    The crippled pair, one can do without it;
    Conscience is dozing itself senseless,
    And the cheek’s skin-a sole instead of it.
    Verity is very veritable,
    From within it corroded me for it;
    No cake is made with dregs from the stable,
    Even if the shit looks really splendid.