I grew up in a house filled with books. To be honest, they were mainly from the library (we visited every week), but the books we did own included a set of encyclopedias, a few well-worn paperback novels, and quite a few children’s books, received as gifts from various relatives or as prizes at the Sunday School Anniversary.
Our library included two volumes of poetry, one by A.A. Milne, creator of Winnie the Pooh, and the other a collection of poems by Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971).
Nash wrote over 500 poems in his lifetime, for both adults and children, and early in his career he was employed as a copywriter for an advertising company. His poems are funny and clever; he had just the right type of temperament for an advertising man.
Here are a few of my favourites:
The Lord in His wisdom made the fly,
And then forgot to tell us why.
The Camel has a single hump,
The dromedary two,
Or is it just the other way,
I’m never sure – are you?
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.
Nash was just 29 when he published his first collection of humorous poems to critical acclaim. The following year he left his job to concentrate fully on writing.
He also wrote the scripts for three MGM films and the lyrics for three Broadway musicals including the hugely successful A Touch of Venus, starring Ava Gardner and Robert Walker about a mannequin who comes to life.
Watching this old clip from reminded me of the 1987 film Mannequin which I have always loved.
Despite being a poet at heart, he still needed to make a living. He sums it up beautifully in this short poem.
I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance.
This is an example of a nonsense poem. Nonsense poems often change the spelling of words to make things rhyme or make them more amusing. They are best read out loud and children usually love them. Other writers of nonsense poems include Lewis Carroll (The Jabberwocky) and Edward Lear (The Owl and the Pussycat).
Do you have any favourite poems from your childhood?