Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Blogden Nash

Here's one of my all time favorites: Ogden Nash's Zoo with gorgeous illustrations by Etienne Delessert. When I was a not-so-strapping young lad of 12 we moved from Long Island back to an apartment in New York City, a mere block from a library. It was there I "discovered" my favorite poet, Ogden Nash.
There's 54 poems about real and imaginary creatures in here, divided into 8 chapters, such as Creeps and Crawls and Tease the Cobra. Although these poems were written for magazines like The New Yorker and the Saturday Evening Post in the years between 1930 and 1971, none seem outdated (except for a reference to a Maidenform bra and the Andrews Sisters). Their wit and economy of means are classic. Here's The Mules

In the world of mules
There are no rules.

This poem got me thinking: maybe there is a rule for a mule. So I created this poem for my book mammalabilia

The Mule

Voice of the mule: bray
Hue of the mule: bay
Fuel of the mule: hay
Rule of the mule: stay

The audience in Nash's book is not strictly for children, as the vocabulary ( a "gamboling lamb", or "a person's posterior") and the humor is often adult. But there are enough simple ones here to make a child smile, if not laugh out loud.
What's surprising to me is that Nash worshipped the same rhyme scheme, AABB or simply AA, in almost every poem. People sometimes compare my poems to Shel Silverstein, but I'd rather reside in Nashville.

7 comments:

Tricia said...

Thanks for sharing the inspiration for your mule poem. I think Ogden Nash was a marvel. I pay homage to him every spring by reading Line-Up for yesterday in preparation for spring training. No matter how often I do it, the poem never gets old.

poemhome said...

He's old but gold.
Thanks Tricia

Susan Marie Swanson said...

In high school English class, shaking with fear, I gave my first speech. On Ogden Nash. He stood next to me and held my arm to steady me. I'm ever grateful. And glad that *you* are blogging.

Anna Alter said...

Hi Douglas,

Thanks for stopping by my blog, I'm a big fan of your books!

I don't know Ogden Nash's work well but will check it out on my next visit to the library. I absolutely ADORE Etienne Delessert, HOW THE MOUSE... was one of my favorites growing up.

Cheers,
Anna

poemhome said...

Hi Susan and Anna,
I also adore Delessert,known better in Europe, and should really do a post about him. I will!
thanks
douglas

Mary Lee said...

I've ALWAYS heard Nash, not Silverstein, in your poetic accent!

Can't wait for the new book!

Z-Kids said...

I have this very book sitting on the shelf beside me... It's wonderful. Love "The Panther"
Z-Dad