Guest poem sent in by atheos
(Poem #1348) Polterguest, My Polterguest
I've put Miss Hopper upon the train, And I hope to do so never again, For must I do so, I shouldn't wonder If, instead of upon it, I put her under. Never has host encountered a visitor Less desirable, less exquisiter, Or experienced such a tangy zest In beholding the back of a parting guest. Hoitful-toitful Hecate Hopper Haunted our house and haunted it proper, Hecate Hopper left the property Irredeemably Hecate Hopperty. The morning paper was her monopoly She read it first, and Hecate Hopperly, Handing on to the old subscriber A wad of Dorothy Dix and fiber. Shall we coin a phrase for "to unco-operate"? How about trying "to Hecate Hopperate"? On the maid's days off she found it fun To breakfast in bed at quarter to one. Not only was Hecate on a diet, She insisted that all the family try it, And all one week end we gobbled like pigs On rutabagas and salted figs. She clogged the pipes and she blew the fuses, She broke the rocker that Grandma uses, And she ran amok in the medicine chest, Hecate Hopper, the Polterguest. Hecate Hopper, the Polterguest Left stuff to be posted or expressed, And absconded, her suavity undiminished, With a mystery story I hadn't finished. If I pushed Miss Hopper under the train I'd probably have to do it again, For the time that I pushed her off the boat I regretfully found Miss Hopper could float.
I think there's something about Nash that's irresistible. He just sweeps you up and away with him. This one is my absolute favourite. You find yourself in sympathy with his - even if only in jest - homicidal tendencies. Everybody has met one of these irritating people. Heck, it could even be ourselves... Grin. atheos. From The Pocket Book of Ogden Nash, with an introduction by Louis Untermeyer (I personally think Untermeyer gushes too much, but I thought I should type everything out because it has some rather nice lines interspersed between the longwinded prose.): "There seem to be at least three Ogden Nashes. There are, for example: 1. the experimental craftsman 2. the social critic 3. the skylarking humourist. Sometimes Nash keeps these three selves fairly well segregated. But, more often than not, he lets down the bars and allows 1. the innovator, 3. the philosopher, and 3. the funny fellow to kick up their heels in happy unison. This volume is chiefly given over to the best of those tripartite romps. It was Nash in the role of experimental craftsman who first made readers aware that something new had happened to light verse in America. Accustomed to smoothly paired rhymes and neatly measured stanzas, readers were suddenly stopped by the impact of lines like: I sit in an office at 244 Madison Avenue And say to myself you have a responsible job, havenue? Cajoled by talk of babies, even parents were startled to find: A bit of talcum Is always walcum. The reader of Nash learned his lessons in a new school; he learned of too much affection which: .. leads to breaches of promise If you go lavishing it around on red hot momise. He pondered the theatrical reflection that: In the Vanities No one wears panities. He learned to decipher the weird but comforting axiom that: A girl who is bespectacled, She may not get her necktacled; But safety pins and bassinets Await the girl who fassinets. Here and elsewhere Nash invents lines that run blithely on without benefit of metre and rhymes so madcap as to be irresponsible. Instead of pleasing the reader with the customary niceties, Nash assaults him with a series of breathless outrages. One or two fanatical source-hunters claim to have found the origin of Nash's eccentric lines in W.S. Gilbert's "Lost Mr. Blake". But an unprejudiced comparison will show that the two styles have little in common and that, whereas Gilbert made the experiment just once, Nash uses it so freely and so efficiently that he has put his trademark upon it. So with the rhymes. Nash is the master of surprising words that nearly but do-not-quite match, words which rhyme reluctantly, words which never before had any relation with each other and which will never be on rhyming terms again. Here are those apparently improvised monologues in which the distortions are more lively - and more quotable - than any prepared accuracy. What would you do if you were up a dark alley with Caesar Borgia And he was coming torgia... But the slightly lunatic manner is deceptive. Disguised as a buffoon who cannot resist a parody and a pun, there is the social critic. Here again Nash has a fresh set of surprises up his ample sleeve... Even without his unique bag of technical tricks, Nash creates the deftest light verse being written today. The longer and more elaborately contrived poems are topical and timely; but there is something timeless in the nimble gallantry of "To a Lady Passing Time Better Left Unpassed". the whimsical appeal of "Complaint to Four Angels", the submerged but not too supressed anger of "To a Small Boy Standing on My Shoes While I Am Wearing Them", the affable sentiment of "An Introduction To Dogs". and the merry malice in what is perhaps the most philosophic and certainly the funniest poem in the collection, "The Seven Spritual Ages of Mrs. Marmaduke Moore". Nash the rhyming clown may win us first, but it is Nash the laughing philosopher who holds us longest. Only Nash could have combined the tones of banter and burlesque to tell us: Our daily diet grows odder and odder- It's a wise child that knows its fodder. Finally there emerges from this collection a portrait of Nash himself, the whole person not quite concealed by the poet. We are made aware of his intimate dislikes or (since most of them begin with a "p") his prejudices; they include politicians and people's names and parsley ("parsley is gharsley") and poems by Edgar A. Guest and professors and parties next door. We see him leaping about without effort from childlike fancy to mature irony; a crazy storyteller one moment, a satirist the next, a wry clown and a chuckling critic. It is then that we recognize how rounded the man really is, how much more than the haphazard rhymer he reveals. His is an inspired method which has just the right measure of madness in it, a recklessness that is never without reason. In other and flatter words, Nash is our greatest combiner of common sense and uncommon nonsense, the undisputed American heir of Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll and W. S. Gilbert. -- Louis Untermeyer