To My Valentine
by Ogden Nash
More than a catbird hates a cat,
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 a 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 unexpected 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 beggar 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 oathes,
That’s how you’re love by me.
Born Frederick Ogden Nash on August 19, 1902 in Rye, New York.
An ancestor, General Francis Nash, gave his name to Nashville, Tennesee.
Raised in Rye, New York and Savannah, Georgia.
Educated at St. George’s School in Rhode Island and, briefly, Harvard University.
Started work writing advertising copy for Doubleday, Page Publishing, New York, in 1925.
Published first book for children, The Cricket of Caradon in 1925.
First published poem Spring Comes to Murray Hill appears in New Yorker magazine in 1930.
Joins staff at New Yorker in 1932.
Married Frances Rider Leonard on June 6, 1933.
Published 19 books of poetry.
Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1950.
Lived in New York but his principal home was in Baltimore, Maryland, where he died on May 19, 1971. He was buried in North Hampton, New Hampshire.
Frederic Ogden Nash AKA “Oggie” (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, the New York Times said his “droll verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”
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
- But safety pins and bassinets
- Await the girl who fassinets.
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,
- But she also said, If my kitchen is going to produce a Cordon Blue,
- It won’t be me, it will be you,
- And he said, You mean Cordon Bleu?
- And she said to never mind the pronunciation so long as it was him and not heu.
Nash’s poetry was often a playful twist of an old saying or poem. He expressed this playfulness in what is perhaps his most famous rhyme. Nash observed the following in a turn of Joyce Kilmer‘s words: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.”
- I think that I shall never see
- A billboard lovely as a tree.
- Indeed, unless the billboards fall
- I’ll never see a tree at all.
Similarly, in Reflections on Ice-Breaking he wrote:
- Is dandy
- But liquor
- Is quicker.
He also commented:
- I often wonder which is mine:
- Tolerance, or a rubber spine?
His one-line observations are often quoted.
- People who work sitting down get paid more than people who work standing up.
- Progress might have been all right once, but it has gone on too long.