The Baltimore Literary Heritage Project

Ogden Nash
Ogden Nash pic
Ogden Nash, article title
Well, well, well, so this is summer, isn't that mirabile dictu,*
And these are the days when whatever you sit down on you stick to.
*wonderful to relate
-from "Spring Comes to Baltimore"

Although born in Rye, New York, and buried in Little Boar's Head, New Hampshire, where the family summered, Ogden Nash thought of Baltimore as home. He moved here in 1934, three years after marrying a Baltimore girl, Frances Leonard, and lived here most of the rest of his life. (When he returned to Baltimore after having moved to New York for a brief time, he wrote, "I could not love New York. Had I not loved Balti-more.")

His first writing job, in New York, was composing streetcar card ads for a firm that had previously employed F. Scott Fitzgerald. His passion, though, was rhyme. "I think in terms of rhyme," he said, "and have since I was six years old." (He once said that he almost fell in love with a woman named "Mrs. Blorange" because he was so fascinated with her name—orange being one of the few words in the language, along with silver and pilgrim—that has no standard words with which to rhyme.)

This creature fills its mouth with venom
And walks upon its duodenum.
He who attempts to tease the cobra
Is soon a sadder he, and sobra.
-from Ogden Nash's poem "The Cobra"

In addition to poetry, Nash wrote lyrics for musicals, the most famous being One Touch of Venus, with music by Kurt Weill (of "Mack the Knife" fame) and book by S.J. Perelman (who earlier wrote Monkey Business and Horse Feathers for the Marx Bros.). He also wrote lyrics for an ABC-TV production of Peter and the Wolf, which starred Art Carney.

Nash loved not only Baltimore, but Baltimore sports. According to his daughter, Linell Nash Smith, "He was a wild sports fan. Daddy loved the Colts—just adored them. Baseball! Lord, I learned baseball at age 7. I could score it. He taught me to pitch."

Pulitzer Prize winning poet Marianne Moore once wrote to Ogden Nash about a book of his that she owned: "I thought I'd put a little mark on each page I really treasure, and they all have little marks."

Places of interest: