Once upon a time there was an Italian,
And some people thought he was a rapscallion,
But he wasn’t offended,
Because other people thought he was splendid,
And he said the world was round,
And everybody made an uncomplimentary sound,
But he went and tried to borrow some money from Ferdinand
But Ferdinand said America was a bird in the bush and he’d rather have a berdinand,
But Columbus’ brain was fertile, it wasn’t arid,
And he remembered that Ferdinand was married,
And he thought, there is no wife like a misunderstood one,
Because if her husband thinks something is a terrible idea she is bound to think it a good one,
So he perfumed his handkerchief with bay rum and citronella,
And he went to see Isabella,
And he looked wonderful but he had never felt sillier,
And she said, I can’t place the face but the aroma is familiar,
And Columbus didn’t say a word,
All he said was, I am Columbus, the fifteenth-century Admiral Byrd,
And, just as he thought, her disposition was very malleable,
And she said, Here are my jewels, and she wasn’t penurious like Cornelia the mother of the Gracchi, she wasn’t referring to her children, no, she was referring to her jewels, which were very very valuable,
So Columbus said, Somebody show me the sunset and somebody did and he set sail for it,
And he discovered America and they put him in jail for it,
And the fetters gave him welts,
And they named America after somebody else,
So the sad fate of Columbus ought to be pointed out to every child and every voter,
Because it has a very important moral, which is, Don’t be a discoverer, be a promoter.
–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Here’s a poem in honor of Ogden Nash (1902-1971), whose birthday is today.
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No Doctors Today, Thank You
They tell me that euphoria is the feeling of feeling wonderful, well, today I feel euphorian,
Today I have the agility of a Greek god and the appetite of a Victorian.
Yes, today I may even go forth without my galoshes,
Today I am a swashbuckler, would anybody like me to buckle any swashes?
This is my euphorian day,
I will ring welkins and before anybody answers I will run away.
I will tame me a caribou
And bedeck it with marabou.
I will pen me my memoirs.
Ah youth, youth! What euphorian days them was!
I wasn’t much of a hand for the boudoirs,
I was generally to be found where the food was.
Does anybody want any flotsam?
Does anybody want any jetsam?
I can getsam.
I can play chopsticks on the Wurlitzer,
I can speak Portuguese like a Berlitzer.
I can don or doff my shoes without tying or untying the laces because I am wearing moccasins,
And I practically know the difference between serums and anti-toccasins.
Kind people, don’t think me purse-proud, don’t set me down as vainglorious,
I’m just a little euphorious.
More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That’s how much I love you.
I love you more than a duck can swim,
And more than a grapefruit squirts,
I love you more than gin rummy is a bore,
And more than a toothache hurts.
As a shipwrecked sailor hates the sea,
Or a juggler hates a shove,
As a hostess detests uninvited guests,
That’s how much you I love.
I love you more than a wasp can sting,
And more than the subway jerks,
I love you as much as a cripple needs a crutch,
And more than a hangnail irks.
I swear to you by the stars above,
And below, if such there be,
As the High Court loathes perjurious oaths,
That’s how much you’re loved by me.
–Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
In honor of the birthday of one of my favorite authors, here is a book review in verse by one of my favorite poets.
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PG Wooster, Just As He Useter
by Ogden Nash
Bound to your bookseller, leap to your library,
Deluge your dealer with bakshish and bribary,
Lean on the counter and never say when,
Wodehouse and Wooster are with us again.
Flourish the fish-slice, your buttons unloosing,
Prepare for the fabulous browsing and sluicing,
And quote, til you’re known as the neighborhood nuisance,
The gems that illumine the browsance and sluicance.
Oh, fondle each gem, and after you quote it,
Kindly inform me just who wrote it.
Which came first, the egg or the rooster?
PG Wodehouse or Bertram Wooster?
I know hawk from handsaw, and Finn from Fiji,
But I can’t disentangle Bertram from PG.
I inquire in the school room, I ask in the road house,
Did Wodehouse write Wooster, or Wooster Wodehouse?
Bertram Wodehouse and PG Wooster,
They are linked in my mind like Simon and Schuster.
No matter which fumbled in ’41,
Or which the woebegone figure of fun.
I deduce how the faux pas came about,
It was clearly Jeeves’s afternoon out.
Now Jeeves is back, and my cheeks are crumply
From watching him glide through Steeple Bumpleigh.