Happy birthday to poet Ogden Nash, known for his ability to turn a witty verse on everything from politics to celery. “I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old,” he once said [PDF]. Lucky for us.
In honor of what would have been his 114th birthday today, here are some of his greatest hits.
1. ON LIQUID COURAGE:
— "Reflections on Ice-Breaking"
Nash updated the poem in 1968, adding this line at the end: “Pot is not.”
2. ON PROGRESS:
“Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.”
— "Come, Come, Kerouac! My Generation is Beater Than Yours"
3. ON HAPPINESS:
“There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.”
4. ON WORKING:
“If you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won’t have to work.”
—"More About People"
5. ON VISUAL POLLUTION:
In 1958, a reporter asked Nash if he thought any of his poetry had done anything to help the human race. Nash smiled and recited this piece:
“I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.”
— "Song of the Open Road"
6. & 7. ON ANIMALS:
“The trouble with a kitten is
eventually it becomes a
— "The Kitten"
“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”
— "The Cow"
8. ON INSECTS:
"God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why."
9. ON MIDDLE AGE
“Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.”
— "Let's Not Climb the Washington Monument"
10. ON MARRIAGE:
“To keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.”
— "A Word to Husbands"
11. ON PARSLEY:
— "Further Reflections on Parsley"
12. & 13. ON MONEY:
“Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny —
Have you ever tried to buy them without money?”
— "The Terrible People"
"O, money, money, money,
I’m not necessarily one of those who think thee holy,
But I often stop to wonder how thou canst go out so fast
When thou comest in so slowly.”
— "Hymn to the Thing that Makes the Wolf Go"
14. ON YETIS:
“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."
— "The Abominable Snowman"
15. ON CHILDREN:
"Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for."
— "The Parent"
16. ON CHOCOLATE:
“If some confectioners were willing
To let the shape announce the filling
We’d encounter few assorted chocs
Bitten into and returned to the box.”
— "Assorted Chocolates"