A Summer Splash of Ogden Nash




I’m not sure when I first discovered Ogden Nash, but it may have been when reading The Tale of Custard the Dragon to my entranced children–we all quickly became die-hard fans of Belinda and her “realio trulio little pet dragon”. Or perhaps it was at my sister and brother-in-law’s wedding when they chose Tin Wedding Whistle as one of their readings. I mean, really, who can resist these lines?

…Somehow, I can be complacent
Never but with you adjacent.

Near and far, near and far,
I am happy where you are;

Likewise I have never larnt
How to be it where you aren’t.

Regardless, I dare you to try to read just one Ogden Nash poem. They’re simply addictive–Clever, satirical and utterly delightful! Ogden Nash’s creative light-hearted verse is the perfect treat on a hot summer day. His whimsical word play goes down like an iced glass of lemonade with a splash of sparkling seltzer. Enjoy!

Here’s a poem that’s simply perfect for the steamy, humid weather that’s been visiting us in Maine recently.

Summer Serenade
by Ogden Nash

When the thunder stalks the sky,
When tickle-footed walks the fly,
When shirt is wet and throat is dry,
Look, my darling, that’s July.

Through the grassy lawn be leather,
And prickly temper tug the tether,
Shall we postpone our love for weather?
If we must melt, let’s melt together!

Nash used exaggeration and absurdity to good effect. He was an irreverent rhyme master and often created words to fit his rhyme scheme. Apparently, he was also an early sufferer from the infamous Man Cold. Just consider these lines from his poem Common Cold in which he berates a doctor for dismissing his illness as merely a common cold:
...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.

Here are a few Nash limericks showcasing his creativity and his classic inventive spelling.


There once was a man from Calcutta,
Who coated his tonsils with butta,
Thus converting his snore
From a thunderous roar,
To a soft, oleaginous mutta.


There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comment arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.

If you’re interested in hearing Nash read his own work, you can click below to hear him read one of his poems for children, “The Adventures of Isabel.” Finally, Natalie Merchant set this same poem to music. Click below to enjoy her version of  “The Adventures of Isabel.”

By the way, if you’re not familiar with Merchant’s album Leave Your Sleep, you really should check it out. In this 7-year project she selected 19th and 20th century children’s poems and set them to music. She collaborated with 130 musicians in a wide variety of musical styles. It’s a rare treat!

This week’s Poetry Friday Roundup is hosted by Katie at The Logonauts . Click on the link to enjoy even more poetry there!

19 thoughts on “A Summer Splash of Ogden Nash

  1. Addictive indeed. What a Friday morning pleasure. Any MBH a la ON?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mbhmaine says:

    I’m still working on those ON-inspired poems. 🙂


  3. margaretsmn says:

    These poems are such fun. Thanks. The words roll around like butta on this warm soggy day in July.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. lindabaie says:

    My son (on our vacation) just caught one of those “colds colossal”. Cerf is so clever. Thanks for the big smiles today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Violet N. says:

    Your quoted Nash poems are hilarious. Such fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • mbhmaine says:

      It was hard to stop linking poems, Violet! Nash was quite a satirist and an astute social observer. I found myself wondering what he would have to say about these crazy times we live in.


  6. Molly, I am in love with your post. Hilarious as only Ogden Nash can be, Man Cold sufferer and word inventor extraordinaire. I will have to return when the hubby isn’t sleeping in the same room and listen to Natalie Merchant. A treat for my Saturday. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh my, these fun poems are a treat in this hot July. I’ll check out the musical selections, too. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderfully rich post Molly, I’m a big fan of Ogden Nash, thanks for all his delectable words here and the extras too!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. maryleehahn says:

    Thanks for the laugh. (I had to look up “man cold.” My man is tough and has never EVER had one of those!

    Fun fact — I wrote the teachers’ guide for Leave Your Sleep!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. These are all such fun, Molly! I love “Summer Serenade,” even though I’ve been lamenting the July weather this week. Natalie Merchant’s “Leave Your Sleep” is incredible. Thank you for sharing all this good cheer!

    Liked by 1 person

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