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About this poet

One of the most widely appreciated and imitated writers of light verse, Frediric Ogden Nash was born in Rye, New York, on August 19, 1902, to Edmund Strudwick and Mattie Nash. He came from a distinguished family; the city of Nashville, Tennessee, was named in honor of one of his forbearers. Nash attended Harvard College, but dropped out after only one year. He worked briefly on Wall Street, and as a schoolteacher, before becoming a copywriter. In 1925, he took a job in the marketing department with the publishing house Doubleday.

Nash's first published poems began to appear in the New Yorker around 1930. His first collection of poems, Hard Lines (Simon & Schuster), was published in 1931. The book was a tremendous success; it went into seven printings in its first year alone, and Nash quit his job with Doubleday. That same year, he married Frances Rider Leonard; they had two children. Nash worked briefly for the New Yorker in 1932, before deciding to devote himself full-time to his verse.

Nash considered himself a "worsifier." Among his best known lines are "Candy / Is dandy, / But liquor / Is quicker" and "If called by a panther / Don't anther." His poems also had an intensely anti-establishment quality that resounded with many Americans, particularly during the Depression. Nash was a keen observer of American social life, and frequently mocked religious moralizing and conservative politicians. His work is often compared with other satirists of the time, including Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, and H. L. Mencken. He appeared regularly on radio and on television, and he drew huge audiences for his readings and lectures.

Nash was also the author of three screenplays for MGM, and with S. J. Perelmen, he wrote the 1943 Broadway hit One Touch of Venus. In the 1950s, Nash focused on writing poems for children, including the collection Girls Are Silly (Franklin Watts, 1962). He died on May 19, 1971.


Selected Bibliography

Everyone But Thee and Me (Little, Brown and Company, 1962)
Girls Are Silly (Franklin Watts, 1962)
Verses From 1929 On (Little, Brown and Company, 1959)
Versus (Little, Brown and Company, 1938)
I'm a Stranger Here Myself (Little, Brown and Company, 1938)
Hard Lines (Simon & Schuster, 1931)

 

Tin Wedding Whistle

Though you know it anyhow 
Listen to me, darling, now,

Proving what I need not prove 
How I know I love you, love.

Near and far, near and far, 
I am happy where you are;

Likewise I have never learnt 
How to be it where you aren't.

Far and wide, far and wide, 
I can walk with you beside;

Furthermore, I tell you what, 
I sit and sulk where you are not.

Visitors remark my frown 
When you're upstairs and I am down,

Yes, and I'm afraid I pout 
When I'm indoors and you are out;

But how contentedly I view 
Any room containing you.

In fact I care not where you be, 
Just as long as it's with me.

In all your absences I glimpse 
Fire and flood and trolls and imps.

Is your train a minute slothful? 
I goad the stationmaster wrothful.

When with friends to bridge you drive 
I never know if you're alive,

And when you linger late in shops 
I long to telephone the cops.

Yet how worth the waiting for, 
To see you coming through the door.

Somehow, I can be complacent 
Never but with you adjacent.

Near and far, near and far, 
I am happy where you are;

Likewise I have never learnt 
How to be it where you aren't.

Then grudge me not my fond endeavor, 
To hold you in my sight forever;

Let none, not even you, disparage 
Such valid reason for a marriage.

Copyright © 1942 by Ogden Nash, renewed. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Copyright © 1942 by Ogden Nash, renewed. Reprinted by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.

Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash

Born in Rye, New York, in 1902, Frediric Ogden Nash was one of the most widely appreciated and imitated writers of light verse.