Ogden Nash Essay, Research Paper
Ogden Nash?s Trash
Ogden Nash was born on August 19,1902 in Rye, New York and was raised there and in Savannah, Georgia. He received his education from St. George?s School in Rhode Island and, a short while at Harvard University. His first published poem Spring Comes to Murray Hill was featured in the New Yorker Magazine in 1930. He subsequently joined the staff of the New Yorker Magazine in 1932. Throughout his career he published a total of nineteen books of poetry before his death on May 19,1971. He manipulates the English language to fit in his poems to crack jokes and keep his audience entertained. Nash says he gave up hope of becoming a serious poet and decided that it would be better to be a good bad poet than to be a bad good poet. Ogden Nash employs the use of humor and light hearted verse to talk about relationships, parenting, and life in general.
Relationships were one of Ogden Nash?s most written about subjects. Relationships are a hard subject to write fun poetry about, but Nash makes it work like a charm by using funny generalizations and making them rhyme. He can do this like no other with any voice he feels needed. He uses serious, silly, and sincere tones in his work relating to relationships. In one poem in particular ?u of an Ode to Duty? he tells about the confusing ever confusing relationship between men and women, and seems to take no obvious side in the matter. ?On some occasions he writes in conventional modes, which means dropping the playful and the lightly satirical to write the pure lyric or to add a didactic note to the prevailing humorous tenor of his verse,? (Louis Hasley,2). Many of his poems about this topic are written with a personal feel, reading them makes you feel as if you were his peer. You catch yourself laughing halfway through his verses, as you have experienced them just as he has.
He also takes a shot at poking a little fun at parenting, and at some times parents themselves. He observes other parents as well as himself when addressing this tender subject. He writes as a middle class person that relates to a majority of his easy going audience. You can?t help but let out a laugh when reading his poem Reflection on Babies (A bit of talcum, Is always walcum). He stretches the words to fit sometimes misspelling them and capitalizing at will to emphasize and to humor. ?There are verses here for father, for mother, and verses about children and about various animals domestic, feral, and in between. I should not say that the verses about children are also for children, though I am not sure that the whole book is not addressed to children as much as to beleaguered parents,?(David McCord,1). In the poem It Must Be the Milk he compares two unlike thinks, drunks and toddlers. He compares their styles of walking and makes the poem work while looking at a pure and impure subject.
Nash also writes about his experiences in general, and seems to be a walker by to many of these poems. In this instance he is a watcher, as he watches human behavior and then comments on how silly we are. He argues that no humorist is totally trustworthy in If Fun is Fun, Isn?t That Enough?. He takes a readers view while writing this poem about how many false words are spoken in jest. Nash has a divided persona and may be good, or bad depending on the viewpoint of his writing, and the viewpoint of his readers. He often reveals truths about himself, usually a moral weakness that is charachteristic of human nature in general. I particularly like this aspect as he sounds like he wants change instead of making ?human nature? the scapegoat.
Ogden Nash employs the use of humor and light hearted verse to talk about relationships, parenting, and life in general. These subjects are particularly hard to make funny or make people laugh at. He does make them funny by writing frankly, and with a general audience in which he views on a daily basis. ?The expression of wisdom, the incongruous sound effects, the comic deflation, all serve to endear the poet-fool to his audience,?(George Crandell,3). Through viewing Nash?s poetry I have learned that there needs to be a voice like his out in society to comment on nonsense, otherwise we would lose touch with our senses of humor.
Crandell, George W. Studies in American Humor, Vol. 7, 1989, pp.94-103.
Frankenberg, Lloyd The New York Times Book Review, November 19, 1950, p.4
McCord, David The Saturday Review, February 10, 1951, p. 18
Hasley, Louis The Arizona Quarterly, Vol.27, 1971, pp. 241-250