Light verse doesn’t mean easy verse. Ogden Nash’s poetry is finely crafted. Do you agree? Here are some examples.
One cantaloupe is ripe and lush,
Another’s green, another’s mush.
I’d buy a lot more cantaloupe
If I possessed a fluoroscope.The Cantaloupe, by Ogden Nash
The fluoroscope is a type of x-ray machine. It gives too high a radiation dosage to pass muster today.
And here’s a couple of animal poems.
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.The Octopus, by Ogden Nash
The wasp and all his numerous family
I look upon as a major calamity.
He throws open his nest with prodigality,
But I distrust his waspitality.The Wasp, by Ogden Nash
Mostly, I simply giggle with delight when I read me some Nash, however, I will indulge in just a wee dram of analysis. Namely, Nash has a tendency to make up words. It’s as if, finding himself in a pinch without a handy rhyming word he’ll simply invent one. It’s definitely harder than just that, of course, and that quality of difficulty is why Nash has so few imitators.
Some primal termite knocked on wood
And tasted it and found it good,
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.The Termite, by Ogden Nash
Here are a couple of his more popular and enduring poems.
A mighty creature is the germ,
Though smaller than the pachyderm.
His customary dwelling place
Is deep within the human rac3e.
His childish pride he often pleases
By giving people strange diseases.
Do you, my poppet, feel infirm?
You probably contain a germ.The Germ, by Ogden Nash
The cow is of the bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other, milk.The Cow, by Ogden Nash
And, to finish, my favorite. Children, be warned, this poem contains a word that may or may not be considered cussing. I mean, the word was allowed in 1970’s network television broadcasts, so it’s probably not all that controversial. But moving on, this is a complaint poem written from the point of view of someone frequently observed by the poet. To find eyes upon you is generally slightly irritating, but if the eyes that track your every movement belong to a poet, that irritation grows.
I also like this poem because I have children.
I have a funny daddy
Who goes in and out with me,
And everything that baby does
My daddy’s sure to see,
And everything that baby says
My daddy’s sure to tell.
You must have read my daddy’s verse.
I hope he fries in hell.My Daddy, by Ogden Nash