A Gleeful Splash of Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash, ca. 1962
Ogden Nash, ca. 1962 (Little, Brown)

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By Jonathan Yardley
Sunday, May 8, 2005

OGDEN NASH

The Life and Work of America's Laureate of Light Verse

By Douglas M. Parker. Ivan R. Dee. 316 pp. $27.50

At the end of the 1920s Ogden Nash was in his late twenties, living in New York City, working as a copywriter in the advertising department of Doubleday, the prominent book publisher, and trying his hand at poetry. It didn't take long, Douglas M. Parker writes, for him to reach "the important conclusion that he simply lacked the talent to become a serious poet: 'There was a ludicrous aspect to what I was trying to do; my emotional and naked beauty stuff just didn't turn out as I had intended.' " Instead he ventured into light verse, which enjoyed a more significant readership then than it does today. This was one of his earliest efforts:

The turtle lives twixt plated decks

That practically conceal its sex.

I think it clever of the turtle

In such a fix to be so fertile.

The poem "made a remarkable impression on the humorist Corey Ford" and others as well. Soon Nash came up with this:

The hunter crouches in his blind

Mid camouflage of every kind.

He conjures up a quaking noise


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