Ogden Nash

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Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, the New York Times said his "droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country's best-known producer of humorous poetry".[1]


Early life

Nash was born in Rye, New York. His father owned and operated an import-export company, and because of business obligations, the family relocated often.

After graduating from St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, Nash entered Harvard University in 1920, only to drop out a year later. He returned to St. George's to teach for a year and left to work his way through a series of other jobs, eventually landing a position as an editor at Doubleday publishing house, where he first began to write poetry.

Nash moved to Baltimore, Maryland, three years after marrying Frances Leonard, a Baltimore native. He lived in Baltimore from 1934 and most of his life until his death in 1971. Nash thought of Baltimore as home. After his return from a brief move to New York, he wrote "I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more."

His first job in New York was as a writer of the streetcar card ads for a company that previously had employed another Baltimore resident, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Nash loved to rhyme. "I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old," he stated in a 1958 news interview.[2] He had a fondness for crafting his own words whenever rhyming words did not exist, though admitting that crafting rhymes was not always the easiest task.[2]

In 1931 he published his first collection of poems, Hard Lines, earning him national recognition. Some of his poems reflected an anti-establishment feeling. For example, one verse, entitled Common Sense, asks:

Writing career

Nash was known to be openly racist. In his more racist verse, Nash has tended to ignore reality and demonize. The following poem about Japanese-Americans has been denounced as 'irresponsible' for its fanning flames of anti-Japanese-American hatred and the false libel of Japanese-Americans 'stealing' American land.

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