N is for Ogden Nash


This post is dedicated to my dad.

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.

F is for Robert Frost


Today is Friday, Good Friday for some, and it’s “F” day in the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

“F” offered up some great choices: William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and one of my absolute favorites, E.M. Forster.  But for today, I’ll present a work by one of America’s most beloved poets:

A Prayer in Spring
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

A is for Auden


Note: Some of my fellow bloggers started their “A” posts yesterday, which I thought was exempt, as it was Sunday.  They’re onto “B” today, so I guess I will be, again, behind.  Unless I can get two posts out today.

My theme for this A to Z Blogging Challenge will be: authors.  That includes writers, storytellers, novelists, poets, and even songwriters.

A is for Auden.  W.H. Auden, whose first name was Wystan and middle name was Hugh, is not as well-known as, say, T.S. Eliot, Thomas Hardy, or the American Robert Frost.  Unless you count “Four Weddings and a Funeral” as one of your favorite movies.  His name sounds suspiciously British, and it is.  He was born in England and later became an American citizen.  Born in 1907, died in 1973.

I remember reading one or two of his poems in college.  “September 1, 1939” was about the start of World War II, but also about oppression, and I couldn’t even grasp the complexity of his writing back then.  It wasn’t until I heard “Funeral Blues” (also known as “Stop All the Clocks”) read by the character of Matthew (John Hannah) at the funeral service of Matthew’s partner Gareth in “Four Weddings,” that I paid attention to Auden again.  Click on the link if you want to watch it again.

“Funeral Blues”

 

Funeral Blues (Song IX / from Two Songs for Hedli Anderson)
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone.
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling in the sky the message He is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun.
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.