A Truckle full of Chuckle: The Poetic Buffoonery of Ogden Nash

‘In chaos sublunary

What remains constant but buffoonery?’

asked Ogden Nash in one of his last poems. I agree.

For when things around us turn dark, we can either sit and mope

or light up our lives with some humor and hope…

Whoa! That was an impromptu and rather unexpected rhyme by yours truly! But then, that’s the effect Ogden Nash has on you once you start reading his poetry. In some ways, his poems have the same effect on me as Bill Waterson’s comic strip -Calvin and Hobbes.ch080329

I discovered Ogden Nash way back when I was still in school… and believe me, I was hooked to his poetry. However, back then, there was no Internet to search out more of his poems and the British Library seldom stocked anything that did not originate from Britain… even if it was good literature/poetry. So I had to wait a long, frustrating wait before I found a copy of ‘Candy is Dandy’, his poetry omnibus, in a bookstore. Since then though, the book is always by my side and every time I’m feeling down or angry or frustrated or perhaps even feel the onset of Armageddon, all I have to do to put me back in an upbeat mood is flip open the book to any page. I repeat… any page. Want a demo?

Well, that’s what I’m going to do today. I’m going to type out for you the poem that appears on any random page that I flip open in the book.* But before that, I must also share what Ogden Nash did to the poet/writer in me… well, to put is as succinctly as possible so as not to bore you an keep you from reading his poems – he taught me to not take myself too seriously.

With that, here you go…

Flip 1:

The Ant

The ant has made himself illustrious

Through constant industry industrious.

So what?

Would you be calm and placid

If you were full of formic acid?


Flip 2:

First Child… Second Child (I can so relate to this as a parent of two children!)

FIRST

Be it a girl, or one of the boys,
It is scarlet all over its avoirdupois,
It is red, it is boiled; could the obstetrician
Have possibly been a lobstertrician?
His degrees and credentials were hunky-dory,
But how’s for an infantile inventory?
Here’s the prodigy, here’s the miracle!
Whether its head is oval or spherical,
You rejoice to find it has only one,
Having dreaded a two-headed daughter or son;
Here’s the phenomenon all complete,
It’s got two hands, it’s got two feet,
Only natural, but pleasing, because
For months you have dreamed of flippers or claws.
Furthermore, it is fully equipped:
Fingers and toes with nails are tipped;
It’s even got eyes, and a mouth clear cut;
When the mouth comes open the eyes go shut,
When the eyes go shut, the breath is loosed
And the presence of lungs can be deduced.
Let the rockets flash and the cannon thunder,
This child is a marvel, a matchless wonder.
A staggering child, a child astounding,
Dazzling, diaperless, dumbfounding,
Stupendous, miraculous, unsurpassed,
A child to stagger and flabbergast,
Bright as a button, sharp as a thorn,
And the only perfect one ever born.
SECOND

Arrived this evening at half-past nine.
Everybody is doing fine.
Is it a boy, or quite the reverse?
You can call in the morning and ask the nurse.


Flip 3:

The Fly

God in His wisdom made the fly

And then forgot to tell us why.


Flip 4:

Away From It All

I wish I were a Tibetan monk

Living in a monastery.

I would unpack my trunk

And store in a tronastery.

I would collect all my junk

And send it to a jonastery;

I would try to reform a drunk

And pay his expenses in a dronastery.

And if my income shrunk

I would send it to a shronastery.


Flip 5:

To A Small Boy Standing On My Shoes While I’m Wearing Them

Let’s straighten this out, my little man,
And reach an agreement if we can.
I entered your door as an honored guest.
My shoes are shined and my trousers are pressed,
And I won’t stretch out and read you the funnies
And I won’t pretend that we’re Easter bunnies.
If you must get somebody down on the floor,
What in the hell are your parents for?
I do not like the things that you say
And I hate the games that you want to play.
No matter how frightfully hard you try,
We’ve little in common, you and I.
The interest I take in my neighbor’s nursery
Would have to grow, to be even cursory,
And I would that performing sons and nephews
Were carted away with the daily refuse,
And I hold that frolicsome daughters and nieces
Are ample excuse for breaking leases.
You may take a sock at your daddy’s tummy
Or climb all over your doting mummy,
But keep your attentions to me in check,
Or, sonny boy, I will wring your neck.
A happier man today I’d be
Had someone wrung it ahead of me.


Flip 6:

Ok, there are too many long ones and it’ll take me for ever to type them out, so I’m just going to share some really funny short ones now.

The Parent

Children aren’t happy with nothing to ignore.

And that’s what parents were created for.


Reflection on Babies

A bit of talcum
Is always walcum.


The Lama

The one-l lama,

He’s a priest;

The two-l llama,

He’s a beast.

And I will bet

A silk pajama

There isn’t any

Three-l lllama.


The Abominable Snowman

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 Python

The python has, and I fib no fibs

318 pairs of ribs.

In stating this I place reliance

On a seance with one who died for science.

This figure is sworn to and attested;

He counted them while being digested. 


With that, it’s time to say goodbye.

I hope you’ve all been chuckling through this post

and if you did, you know why I love Ogden’s poems most 🙂

 

And hey, here’s one of my favorites… for the road.

The cow is of the bovine ilk;

One end is moo, the other, milk.

 

 *I’ve made sure all these poems are already in the public domain before sharing them here. You can find these and many more at https://www.poemhunter.com/ogden-nash/poems/

**If you’re wondering what the ‘truckle’ in the title is, then here’s where I put you out of your misery. A truckle is a low bed to be slid under a higher bed!

 

 

 

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