Frederic Ogden Nash: Poems

Poetic style

Nash was best known for surprising, pun-like rhymes, sometimes with words deliberately misspelled for comic effect, as in his retort to Dorothy Parker's humorous dictum, Men seldom make passes/At girls who wear glasses:

A girl who is bespectacled
She may not get her nectacled

He often wrote in an exaggerated verse form with pairs of lines that rhyme, but are of dissimilar length and irregular meter:

Once there was a man named Mr. Palliser and he asked his wife, May I be a gourmet?
And she said, You sure may,

Nash's poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. For one example, he expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme, a twist on Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees" (1913): "I think that I shall never see / a poem lovely as a tree", which drops "billboard" in place of poem and adds, "Indeed, unless the billboards fall / I'll never see a tree at all."[10] That same playfulness produced a number of often quoted quips, including "Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long" and "People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up."


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