Douglas M. Parker Ogden Nash:
The Life & Work of America's Laureate of
Light Verse.
Ivan R. Dee, 336 pages, $27.50

For me, at any rate, the name “Ogden Nash” brings a smile to the lips and an itch to quote. Some poems stick easily in my increasingly diminished memory: “A little talcum/ Is always walcum.” Alas, talcum is now most unwalcum—its silicates can cause death. But “Reflections on Ice-Breaking” will surely never date. “Candy/ Is dandy/ But liquor/ Is quicker.” Most of my favorites, though, are too long to fit comfortably in my memory and the columns of The New Criterion. High in my high school pantheon, right up there with “Terence, this is stupid stuff” and “Do not go gentle into that good night,” is “Very Like A Whale,” Nash’s anti-simile grouse against Byron’s poem in Hebrew Melodies...


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