Tag Archives: Ogden Nash

Greatness and travellers

Ogden Nash is one of my favourite poets. And we have read many of his poems in MHFL over the years.
Recently I discovered another poet who wrote humorous poetry and had a style very similar to Nash. Arthur Guiterman was an American poet and lived from 1871 to 1943. In today’s MHFL we will read two of his poems.

The first one is about greatness. But before we start, note that mastodons are an extinct species of elephant like creatures. Mastodons had long curved tusks which they used for fighting.

On the Vanity of Earthly Greatness

The tusks which clashed in mighty brawls
Of mastodons, are billiard balls.

The sword of Charlemagne the Just
Is Ferric Oxide, known as rust.

The grizzly bear, whose potent hug,
Was feared by all, is now a rug.

Great Caesar’s bust is on the shelf,
And I don’t feel so well myself.

And now we have a poem on travelers and travelling :

The Traveler

Oh, who would choose to be a traveler?-
That anxious railway-guide unraveler,
Who spends his nights in berths and bunks,
His days in chaperoning trunks;
Who stands in line at gates and wickets
To spend his means on costly tickets
To Irkutsk, Liverpool and Yap
And other dots upon the map.
He never rests, but always hurries
From place to place, beset with worries
About hotels and future trips
And just how much to give in tips.
He plods through galleries, museums,
Cathedrals, castles, colosseums,
And villages reputed quaint
With patience worthy of a saint
To give his friends the chance of hooting,
‘You didn’t visit Little Tooting?!!’


=== ==== = = === ================= = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Don’t tell your friends about your indigestion.
‘How are you’ is a greeting, not a question.
=== ==== = = === ================= = = = = = = = = = = = = =


Kuch economical baatein

An Ogden Nash poem:


Hard Lines


Come live with me and be my love

And we will all the pleasures prove

Of a marriage conducted with economy

In the Twentieth Century Anno Donomy.


We’ll live in a dear little walk-up flat

With practically room to swing a cat

And a potted cactus to give it hauteur

And a bathtub equipped with dark brown water.


We’ll eat, without undue discouragement,

Foods low in cost but high in nouragement

And quaff with pleasure, while chatting wittily,

The peculiar wine of Little Italy.


We’ll remind each other it’s smart to be thrifty

And buy our clothes for something-fifty.

We’ll bus for miles on holidays

For seas at depressing matinees,


And every Sunday we’ll have a lark

And take a walk in Central Park.

And one of these days not too remote

You’ll probably up and cut my throat.”



=== ==== ===== ===== ========== =============

Duniya mein hoon, duniya ka talabgaar nahin hoon,

Bazaar se guzra hoon, kharidaar nahin hoon

( I live in the world but I do not love/desire it

  I am walking through the market/mall but I will not buy anything J )

=== ==== ===== ===== ========== ============= 

Python is a good programming language

I am learning Python for a personal project. So I thought I will ask
my dear friend Ogden Nash if he knows about it. He always does:

The Python

The python has, and I fib no fibs,
318 pairs of ribs.
In stating this I place reliance
On a seance with one who died for science.
This figure is sworn to and attested;
He counted them while being digested.


Any hound a porcupine nudges
Can’t be blamed for harboring grudges.
I know one hound that laughed all winter
At a porcupine that sat on a splinter.


Leisure and work

More About People
by Ogden Nash  

        When people aren’t asking question
        They’re making suggestions
        And when they’re not doing one of those
        They’re either looking over your shoulder
        or stepping on your toes
        And then as if that weren’t enough to annoy you
        They employ you.
        Anybody at leisure
        Incurs everybody’s displeasure.
        It seems to be very irking
        To people at work to see other people not working,
        So they tell you that work is wonderful medicine,
        Just look at Firestone and Ford and Edison,
        And they lecture you till they’re out of breath or something
        And then if you don’t succumb they starve you to death or something.
        All of which results in a nasty quirk:
        That if you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won’t have to work.

Ode to duty


          Today we have a very humorous and witty poem by Ogden Nash.

A few points that will help you understand the poem or the context
of certain lines better:

1) Wordsworth wrote the poem, “An Ode to Duty” which had the exclamatory
   phrase  ” O Duty!” and that poem referred to Duty with “thou”. Nash
   has used this in his poem as he also used the title and modified it
   to suit the mood of his poem.

2) “Albatross around the neck” is a phrase that means, an unwanted burden that
    one is forced to carry. This comes from Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of
    the ancient mariner”.

3) A famous quote by Emerson is : When duty whispers low, “Thou must!”, The
   youth replies, “I can!”. Nash has modified this in his poem.

4) Nash refers to Aunt Agatha who is Bertie Wooster’s least favorite aunt
   from the Jeeves stories by P.G Wodehouse. Bertie has the following to
   say about his aunt: “When Aunt Agatha wants you to do a thing you do
   it, or else you find yourself wondering why those fellows in the olden
   days made such a fuss when they had trouble with the Spanish

Here is the poem:

Kind Of An Ode To Duty

O Duty,
Why hast thou not the visage of a sweetie or a cutie?
Why glitter thy spectacles so ominously?
Why art thou clad so abominously?
Why are thou so different from Venus
And why do thou and I have so few interests mutually
in common between us?
Why art thou fifty per cent martyr
And fifty-one per cent Tartar?

Why is it thy unfortunate wont
To try to attract people by calling on them either to
leave undone the deeds they like, or to do the deeds
they don’t?
Why art thou so like an April post-mortem
Of something that died in the ortumn?

Above all, why dost thou continue to hound me?
Why art thou always albatrossly hanging around me?
Thou so ubiquitous,
And I so iniquitous,
I seem to be the one person in the world thou art
perpetually preaching at who or to who;
Whatever looks like fun, there art thou standing
between me and it, calling “you-hoo”.

O Duty, Duty!
How noble a man should I be hadst thou the visage of
a sweetie or a cutie!
But as it is thou art so much forbiddinger than a
Wodehouse hero’s forbiddingest aunt
That in the words of the poet, When Duty whispers low
“Thou must,” this erstwhile youth replies, “I just can’t”.



Milton: When I consider how my light is spent
           Ere half my days in this dark world and wide…….

Nash:   When I consider how my life is spent,
            I hardly ever repent.


No body listens to my advice

Or to Ogden Nash’s advice:

What is the Use
Sure, deck your limbs in pants,
yours are the limbs, my sweeting.
You look divine as you advance….
But have you seen yourself retreating?


Look at itsy-bitsy Mitzi!
See her figure: slim and ritzy!
She eatsa
Greedy Mitzi
She no longer itsy-bitsy!

It has been raining for the last 6 days!

Common Cold by Nash*

Go hang yourself, you old M.D,!
You shall not sneer at me.
Pick up your hat and stethoscope,
Go wash your mouth with laundry soap;
I contemplate a joy exquisite
In not paying you for your visit.
I did not call you to be told
My malady is a common cold.

By pounding brow and swollen lip;
By fever’s hot and scaly grip;
By those two red redundant eyes
That weep like woeful April skies;
By racking snuffle, snort, and sniff;
By handkerchief after handkerchief;
This cold you wave away as naught
Is the damnedest cold man ever caught!

Give ear, you scientific fossil!
Here is the genuine Cold Colossal;
The Cold of which researchers dream,
The Perfect Cold, the Cold Supreme.
This honored system humbly holds
The Super-cold to end all colds;
The Cold Crusading for Democracy;
The Führer of the Streptococcracy.

Bacilli swarm within my portals
Such as were ne’er conceived by mortals,
But bred by scientists wise and hoary
In some Olympic laboratory;
Bacteria as large as mice,
With feet of fire and heads of ice
Who never interrupt for slumber
Their stamping elephantine rumba.

A common cold, gadzooks, forsooth!
Ah, yes. And Lincoln was jostled by Booth;
Don Juan was a budding gallant,
And Shakespeare’s plays show signs of talent;
The Arctic winter is fairly coolish,
And your diagnosis is fairly foolish.
Oh what a derision history holds
For the man who belittled the Cold of Colds!

— Ogden Nash