Oliver Pritchett, Ogden Nash - Slightly Foxed Issue 24

A Pash for Nash

Share this

When I was about 12 my father gave me the Penguin collection, Comic and Curious Verse, selected by J. M. Cohen and priced three shillings and sixpence. Being a rather over-heated adolescent I was immediately enchanted by a short verse by Gavin Ewart:

Miss Twye was soaping her breasts in the bath
When she heard behind her a meaning laugh
And to her amazement she discovered
A wicked man in the bathroom cupboard.

Miss Twye – what a wonderful name. She could have been a librarian, or perhaps a superior shop assistant. Quite soon, however, I gave up imagining myself in that cupboard and moved on to another bath-time poem, ‘Samson Agonistes’, in the same collection.

I test my bath before I sit,
And I’m always moved to wonderment
That what chills the finger not a bit
Is so frigid upon the fundament

This is by Ogden Nash, of course. As well as expressing a profound truth, it did wonders for a boy’s vocabulary. Since then Nash’s couplets have always been floating about in my mind like notes of old favourite tunes. I fondly remember the turtle living ’twixt plated decks, or the ostrich with its lofty legs, and I’m happily stuck with the last two lines of ‘The Panther’:

Better yet, if called by a panther,
Don’t anther.

And also by the whole of his ‘Geographical Reflection’:

The Bronx?
No thonx!

Quite recently, I decided I needed more than these snippets and I bought a copy of Candy Is Dandy: The Best of Ogden Nash. This collection has an introduction by Anthony Burgess and, as well as an index of first lines, an index of last lines which is a brilliant service for those of us who are plagued by half-remembered poems.

In his introduction, Burgess has a plucky

Subscribe or sign in to read the full article

The full version of this article is only available to subscribers to Slightly Foxed: The Real Reader’s Quarterly. To continue reading, please sign in or take out a subscription to the quarterly magazine for yourself or as a gift for a fellow booklover. Both gift givers and gift recipients receive access to the full online archive of articles along with many other benefits, such as preferential prices for all books and goods in our online shop and offers from a number of like-minded organizations. Find out more on our subscriptions page.

Subscribe now or

About the contributor

After being on the staff of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph for thirty years, Oliver Pritchett is now a freelance writer. People have tried to come up with rhymes for his surname, but they are seldom flattering.

Share this

Comments & Reviews

Leave a comment

Customise this page for easy reading

Distraction-free
reading mode