16 Clever Quips from Ogden Nash

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Getty

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:

“Candy
Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.”

— "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.”

—"Interoffice Memorandum"

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
THAT
eventually it becomes a
CAT."

— "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."

—"The Fly"

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:

"Parsley
Is gharsley."

— "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"

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J.K. Rowling to Release New Children’s Book The Ickabog for Free Online

J.K. Rowling is helping kids (and adults) pass the time in quarantine with a story about a mysterious creature called the Ickabog.
J.K. Rowling is helping kids (and adults) pass the time in quarantine with a story about a mysterious creature called the Ickabog.
John Phillips/Getty Images

In the middle of writing Harry Potter novels, J.K. Rowling began work on a new book called The Ickabog, which she read to her children in installments as a bedtime story and planned to release once Harry Potter was behind her. Instead, she ended up taking a well-earned hiatus from publishing children’s books that lasted more than a decade.

Today, however, Rowling announced that not only will she publish The Ickabog, but she’s doing it for free as a serialized novel online. The first two chapters have already been posted on The Ickabog website, and you can look forward to a new section each weekday between now and July 10, 2020. The story, which isn’t related to Harry Potter or the Wizarding World, takes place in the fictional kingdom of Cornucopia, where King Fred the Fearless rules with his best friends, Lords Spittleworth and Flapoon, by his side. There, a young boy named Bert Beamish is terrified by the legend of the Ickabog, a mysterious, malevolent creature that allegedly snatches up unsuspecting children all over the countryside. According to Rowling, the story is about “truth and the abuse of power,” and it’s best suited for children up to age 9.

This November, the book will be published in print, e-book, and audiobook formats, and Rowling will donate all author royalties to as-yet-unspecified “groups who’ve been particularly impacted by the pandemic.” She’s also asking readers to enter their illustrations of the story in a competition for a chance to be featured in the print edition this fall. Suggestions of what images the publishers might need for each chapter are listed on the website—the first two chapters, for example, call for pictures of King Fred and his friends, the Ickabog, a map and flag of Cornucopia, Lady Eslanda, and pastries, cheese, sausages, and wine—but it’s made clear that “nobody should feel constrained by these ideas.”

You can find out more about The Ickabog, read the story, and enter the illustration competition here.