one of my earliest posts here (2006!) was recounting the priorities while rescuing "my" books from the communal marital bookshelf. (shakespeare made the cut, as mrs ross would be relieved to know, as did edgar allen poe, which would have also pleased my grandmother whose book it was that i was rescuing). the other two priorities (not least among the four by any means or stretch of the imagination) were walt kelly, (himself extolled here in this one from around the same time frame, complete with images that i'm sad to say i've grown to lazy to include for years now), and ogden nash.
"selected poetry of ogden nash: 650 rhymes, verses, lyrics, and poems" [sic on the comma trailing the word "lyrics", which eloquently proves that the title was either penned by edgar allen poe, or it's tough to find competent editors these days] is possibly the single book i've read more than any other. it carries the advantage of being comprised of shorter pieces which can be sampled like bon bons from the proverbial box of chocolates, but that's to understate the pleasure in reading them one after another after another until the entire box is consumed. (kids hopping via youtube suggested links could scarcely enjoy a more eclectic and rewarding entertainment journey, though i'm suspicious that youtube has no discernible end, much like the electronic definition of infinity, but lets not digress).
i found one today i had wholly forgotten on the subject of fading eyesight (no comments, please) entitled "and how keen was the vision of sir launfal?" (which google tells me was a 1045-line breton lay by thomas chestre from around the year thirteen hundred and something, but i guess mrs ross didn't have me long enough to complete my familiarity with the full canon of middle english literature). "my kaleidoscope, my cornucopia / my own philosopher's stone, myopia". and there's more classic nash to it, and no moment better than when he rhymes "gypsies" with "mississipsies", but that's such a minor piece among the lot that any mention upsets proper proportion.
his pieces range from the shortest of fully brilliant cultural touchstones, (e.g. the piece entitled "reflections on ice-breaking", which, in its entirety reads "candy / is dandy / but liquor / is quicker.", and props to taj mahal for getting and making the most of it), to simple statements that ought to be in wider circulation, but, unfathomably, are not. (e.g. "too clever is dumb").
he riffed on joyce kilmer. ("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"). he riffed on himself riffing on joyce kilmer. ("i've never seen an abominable snowman / i'm hoping not to see one / i'm also hoping, if i do / that it will be a wee one"). he riffed on dorothy parker. ("a girl who is bespectacled / she may not get her nectacled"). he riffed on the nonsense of politics and politicians. ("progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long").
i thought of ogden during this past presidential election, when the question of culpability for the state of our economy came up, and the excuses from the obamaniacs about so many people being out of work:
most people would find rising unemployment
a source of unenjoyment.
not so the anonymous presidential advisor
whose comment might have been wiser.
he has informed the nation
that rising unemployment is merely a statistical aberration.
i don't want to argue or squabble,
but that gook i won't gobble
i miss ogden nash. i've missed him since i was 11 years old.