Poet: Ogden Nash
Born: 19 August 1902, New York, USA
Died: 19 May 1971, Maryland, USA
Nash was poet best known for his light verse and unconventional rhyme schemes. He is considered America’s best humorous poet. Born in New York Nash’s father owned and ran an import-export company, and because of business obligations the family frequently relocated.
Nash’s family lived for a brief time in Savannah, Georgia, in a carriage house once owned by Juliette Law, the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA; Nah wrote a poem about Mrs. Law’s House. He entered Harvard University after graduating St. George’s School , Newport County, Rhode Island in 1920. He dropped out in 1921. He returned to St. George’s School as a teacher for a year before returning to New York. He took up selling bonds before taking a position as a writer of street card ads for Barron Collier. While working as an editor at Doubleday he submitted some short poems to The New Yorker. The editor, Harold Ross asked for more. Nash spent three months in 1931 on the editorial staff of the New Yorker.
Nash married Frances Leonard in 1931 and published his first collection of poetry, ‘Hard Lines’, earning himself national recognition. Nash moved to Baltimore in 1934 and remained there until his death in 1971. When he wasn’t writing, Nash made guest appearances on comedy and radio shows and toured both the USA and the UK giving lectures at colleges and universities.
Respected by the literary establishment, Nash’s poems were often anthologized in serious collections such as Selden Rodman’s 1946 A New Anthology of Modern Poetry. In collaboration with the librettist SJ Perelman and composer Kurt Weill, Nash was also the lyricist for the musical One Touch of Venus. Among his most popular writings were a series of animal verses, many featuring his characteristic off-kilter rhyming devices such as ‘Who wants my jellyfish/I’m not a sellyfish!’
Nash died from complications of Crohn’s disease in 1971 and is interred in East Side Cemetery, North Hampton, New Hampshire, USA
A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty by Ogden Nash
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?