Monday, August 11, 2014

The “Worsifier”

Ogden Nash was a descendant of Francis Nash, the Revolutionary War general for whom Nashville, Tennessee, is named.  Nonetheless, Nash chose to spend most of his life in Baltimore, where he became America’s undisputed master of light verse. 

Nash, who referred to himself as a “worsifier,” is known for such gems as “If called by a panther / Don’t anther”; and “I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance, Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance”; and the universally known “Candy is dandy / But liquor is quicker.”  My favorite of his verses is a little ditty called “Which the Chicken, and Which the Egg?”:
      He drinks because she scolds, he thinks;
      She thinks she scolds because he drinks;
      And neither will admit what's true,
      That he's a sot and she's a shrew. 
Before devoting himself fulltime to turning out inspired nonsense, he was a Wall Street bond salesman (who sold one bond in two years, to his godmother), a copywriter for the same ad agency that had employed F. Scott Fitzgerald, a book salesman for Doubleday, and a staff writer at The New Yorker—where he lasted only three months.

The poor man shuffled off this mortal coil when he was only 68, and his death was attributed to Crohn’s disease, aggravated by an intestinal infection triggered by a lactobacillus he had acquired from consuming tainted cole slaw.

The Bard of Buffalo Bayou believes that had Nash not died before he could think of it, he might have observed:

            The sole flaw
            Of cole slaw:
            A bacillus
            That can kill us.


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