Here’s a Rhode Island connection: After graduating from St. George’s School in Middletown, Ogden Nash went to Harvard (1920), but dropped out after only a year. He returned to St. George’s and taught for a year, left to work his way through a series of other jobs, and eventually landed a position as an editor at Doubleday, where he began to write poetry.
“I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old,” he stated in a 1958 news interview. Maybe rap owes him some credit.
Nash liked to take well-known poems or sayings and create something from them. From the poet Joyce Kilmer’s words “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree” he crafted:
- I think that I shall never see
- A billboard lovely as a tree.
- Indeed, unless the billboards fall
- I’ll never see a tree at all.
My father’s favorite:
Candy is dandy. But liquor is quicker.
And now my favorite:
To keep your marriage brimming
With love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.
Ogden Nash died in 1971 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He had Crohn’s disease, which was fatally aggravated by an infection transmitted when he consumed improperly-prepared cole slaw. You just know that Mr. Nash would have had a couple of lines ready, had he survived.