Thursday 17 April 2014

The Old Dog Barks Backwards - Ogden Nash

Published 1972

Last week I began the Monopoly Board challenge. It is just a bit of fun and I have linked it to my huge TBR pile of books in the front room library.

When I shook the dice from I ended up on Oriental Avenue.  My assignment that I chose to accept was to:

Read a book with a mostly white cover OR a book whose title starts with O OR a book set in the Orient OR a book by an author whose first or last initial can be found in “ORIENTAL”

This book not only has a white cover, it was unread and the author's name and the title begin with the letter O.

Ogden Nash is an almost forgotten figure in the book world. I remember reading his poems when I was a young person in junior high school and at the time I can remember thinking he was fun. No doubt I bought this book somewhere along the line in the name of nostalgia.

Ogden Nash wrote a lot of nonsense verse that satirised social types that he observed. He was a great observer of life. A little known fact about his family is that an ancestor, General Francis Nash gave his name to the city of Nash-ville in Tennessee. *

Ogden was born in 1902 and died in 1971. 

He was a great one for knocking language out of shape and making wisecracks with it.  His comic verse is pointed by rhythms that become funnier the more strained and tortuous they are. *

He did quite a lot of free lance work and finally became a staff member for New Yorker magazine in 1932. 

This book is an assortment of verses throughout that make statements about all kinds of social situations and people from times gone by.  I enjoyed reading through this book.  It reminded me of a time of growing up in midwest America and the gentleness that I remember the small town I grew up in to be.

I imagine many people would think his poetry is quite simple and dated by today's standards but I quite enjoyed it.  It was fun visiting an old school book of authors we studied in the 1960's.  

I have always enjoyed American poets and although Longfellow and Whitman were my favourites I do remember seeing Ogden Nash's short verses throughout some of my English textbooks.

This book was very much like visiting an old friend.  

*A History of American Lit by Richard Gray.  
So before I leave you here I'll post up a couple of his poems and hope you too enjoy them.

Family Court  
One would be in less danger
From the wiles of a stranger
If one's own kin and kith
Were more fun to be with.

To keep your marriage
brimming, With love in the 
loving cup, Whenever
you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, 
shut up.

If you don’t want to work
you have to work to earn
enough money so that you
won’t have to work.

A Lady Who Thinks She is Thirty
Unwillingly Miranda wakes, 
Feels the sun with terror, 
One unwilling step she takes, 
Shuddering to the mirror. 

Miranda in Miranda's sight 

Is old and gray and dirty; 

Twenty-nine she was last night; 
This morning she is thirty. 

Shining like the morning star, 

Like the twilight shining, 

Haunted by a calendar, 
Miranda is a-pining. 

Silly girl, silver girl, 

Draw the mirror toward you; 

Time who makes the years to whirl 
Adorned as he adored you. 

Time is timelessness for you; 

Calendars for the human; 

What's a year, or thirty, to 
Loveliness made woman? 

Oh, Night will not see thirty again, 

Yet soft her wing, Miranda; 

Pick up your glass and tell me, then-- 
How old is Spring, Miranda? 


1 comment:

  1. Aren't they gorgeous little poems - impossible not to be cheered by them. You have a great Easter, Pam -- I hope plenty of reading is in store.


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