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The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash

by Ogden Nash

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438642,086 (4.03)17
Here, in one volume, are the most popular poems of one of the most popular poets of the twentieth century -- perhaps of the last twenty centuries. Delightfully nonsensical, they in fact make the best of sense, accomplishing what only real poetry can -- allowing the reader to discover what he didn't know he already knew or felt.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
It's Ogden Nash: what more needs to be said? Some subject matter is less familiar, and less PC, these days. ( )
  librisissimo | Dec 9, 2015 |
A good selection of Nash's earlier verses ( )
  antiquary | Oct 31, 2013 |
A compilation of light, humorous verse from Ogden Nash. These poems range from the cynical to the sweet, and mostly deal with the little quirks and foibles of everyday life: marriage, the joys and insanities of raising children, dealing with annoying houseguests, and so on and so forth. They were originally published over the course of several decades, I believe, with the earliest dating back to the 1930s. Some of them still feel wonderfully fresh and relevant, while others are more dated, either because they feature no-longer-current cultural references, or because they describe a rather old-fashioned way of life. (The latter is particularly true in the verses about relationships between husbands and wives... They're not exactly offensive or anything, but they definitely come from an era when expectations were different.)

Nash's style is entirely unique. He twists and tortures the English language into all kinds of ridiculous shapes, forcing words to rhyme whether they like or not, making puns that have no legitimate right to exist, and cheerfully ignoring the idea that there's any limit at all on how many syllables ought to be packed into one line of poetry. Sometimes the result is hilarious and delightful. Sometimes it's just silly. And, surprisingly often, I honestly could not make up my mind whether it was brilliant or terrible. Which I suppose is in itself kind of fun. Although 200 pages of that sort of thing might be a little bit much.

Rating: I am having immense trouble deciding what rating to give this. The best pieces are marvelous, but the collection as a whole might really fall more into the "not bad" range. Let's all it 3.5/5. ( )
1 vote bragan | Aug 4, 2013 |
I found this handy little pocket book, published in 1943, at a yard sale. The excellent Introduction, by Louis Untermeyer, reminds me of the early days of The New Yorker magazine.

The cover proclaims Nash as “America’s Light-Hearted Laureate.” I couldn’t agree more. While his short poems are most familiar, some of his longer ones really demonstrate his skill at twisting words and spellings a circus contortionist would envy.

Here is a poem – “A Brief Guide to New York” -- with all the wit and humor which made Nash famous:

In New York beautiful girls can become more beautiful
by going to Elizabeth Arden
And getting stuff put on their faces and waiting for it
to harden,
And poor girls with nothing to their names but a letter or
two can get rich and joyous
From a brief trip to their loyous.
So I can say with impunity
That New York is a city of opportunity.
It also has many fine theaters and hotels,
And a lot of taxis, buses, subways and els,
Best of all, if you don’t show up at the office or at a tea
nobody will bother their head
They will just think you are dead.
That’s why I really think New York is Exquisite.
And someday I’m going to pay a visit.

Jim, 12/7/12 ( )
  rmckeown | Dec 7, 2012 |
The biggest problem with reading Nash now is that many of the poems are topical and don't make sense if you don't know the political situation he is mocking. However, some of the poems are little gems that will last forever. So don't be afraid the skip the ones you don't get and look for the ones you want to read and reread until you've memorized them by osmosis. ( )
  aulsmith | Nov 4, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
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How these curiosities would be quite forgott, did not such idle fellowes as I am putt them downe -John Aubrey
For Frances - then, now, and always
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The hunter crouches in his blind
'Neath camouflage of every kind,
And conjures up a quacking noise
To lend allure to his decoys.
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Here, in one volume, are the most popular poems of one of the most popular poets of the twentieth century -- perhaps of the last twenty centuries. Delightfully nonsensical, they in fact make the best of sense, accomplishing what only real poetry can -- allowing the reader to discover what he didn't know he already knew or felt.

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