Ogden Nash, born 19 August 1902 in Rye, NY at 1.30am
It seems to me that what James Thurber did via cartoon drawing, Ogden Nash did writing verse. Adjectives such as "kind", "loving" and "gentle" are used to describe this man and his work in a variety of articles and reviews on-line.
In Nash's natal chart the Sun is in Leo, Mercury in Virgo (see how often Virgo features in these writers' charts!) Venus, Mars and Neptune all in Cancer - here's his loving kindness and the reason wit and satire became gentle in his hands. Moon and Jupiter in Aquarius probably account for his habit of mocking the establishment, conservative politicians and religious moralising - not unlike Sinclair Lewis' approach, but with a more emphasised sense of the absurd. Sun and Moon are exactly opposing each other, but without knowing more about Nash's personal life, it's not possible to say how this materialised for him. Simply put, it's meant to signify conflict between needs and wants. I notice that a similar opposition occurs in the chart of my next subject, S J Perelman.
Saturn is in Capricorn, Uranus in Sagittarius. Pluto is, of course in Gemini as with all six of my chosen subjects There is a Yod in Nash's chart (as there was in Dorothy Parker's and James Thurber's). Nash's Yod points to Saturn, with Sun/Pluto sextile. He was obviously a very hard worker, working almost to the time of his death - perhaps in his case this was his way of relieving the tensions of ill health and a tempermental wife upon whom he doted.
Ogden Nash's Leo Sun would have influenced his playful use of language, and his almost child-like sense of fun - apparent in his many rhymes about animals and insects:
I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he's not,
Or, if he is, he makes a spot."
God in his wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why."
Ogden Nash used the English language like a ball of clay, moulding it to his will and his verse:
"I would live all my life in nonchalance and insouciance,
Were it not for making a living, which is rather a nouciance."
"If called by a panther/Don't anther."
His own assessment of "serious" works of prose and poem:
One thing that literature would be greatly the better for
Would be a more restricted employment by authors of simile and metaphor.
Authors of all races, be they Greeks, Romans, Teutons or Celts,
Can't seem just to say that anything is the thing it is but have to go out of their way to say that it is like something else.
What does it mean when we are told
That the Assyrian came down like a wolf on the fold?
In the first place, George Gordon Byron had had enough experience
To know that it probably wasn't just one Assyrian, it was a lot of Assyrians.
However, as too many arguments are apt to induce apoplexy and thus hinder longevity,We'll let it pass as one Assyrian for the sake of brevity.
Now then, this particular Assyrian, the one whose cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold,
Just what does the poet mean when he says he came down like a wolf on the fold?
In heaven and earth more than is dreamed of in our philosophy there are a great many things,
But I don't imagine that among them there is a wolf with purple and gold cohorts or purple and gold anythings.
No, no, Lord Byron, before I'll believe that this Assyrian was actually like a wolf I must have some kind of proof;
Did he run on all fours and did he have a hairy tail anda big red mouth and big white teeth and did hesay Woof woof? ".............................................
Nash's working life started uncertainly with a variety of different jobs, leading eventually to a position with Doubleday, a well-known New York publishing house, this is when he began writing his humourous poetry, which apparently came to him with little effort, after a shaky attempt to write more serious verse. Later he became a regular contributor to the New Yorker, and other quality magazines, and was to count Dorothy Parker among his circle of friends.
Ogden Nash married Frances Rider Leonard in 1931, with whom he had two daughters. His experiences with fatherhood provided more comic fodder for his verse, evident in the 1936 collection "The Bad Parents' Garden of Verse." He offered this observation as a result of a party, comparing his children and their companions to tribal warriors:
"Of similarity there's lots
Twixt tiny tots and Hottentots."
According to some on-line biographies Frances Nash was a hard woman to like, very temperamental - yet Nash remained devoted to her, and his family (stellium in Cancer!) He suffered bouts of ill health throughout his life, and frequently wrote humourously about his encounters with the medical profession. His book "Bed Riddance...A Posy for the Indisposed" is one example.
Nash always had a burning ambition to write for musical comedy. He eventually attained his dream when he provided the lyrics for Kurt Weill's classic "Speak Low" in collaboration with my next subject S.J Perelman, who was to become his lifelong friend. Nash and Perelman co-authored the show "One Touch of Venus" from which the song came. ''Speak Low'' was to become the show's signature number, but there are many more, including ''Very, Very, Very,' which, satirically, takes off on targets from fine art to free love. As the Nash lyric explains, ''It's a minor peccadillo/To patronize the wrong pillow.''
As well as his writing, Ogden Nash undertook a regular circuit of lectures, which he found exhausting but gratifying. He carried on working almost up to the time of his death in 1971.At one of his last venues he said of humour:
"It is not brash, it is not cheap, it is not heartless. Among other things I think humor is a shield, a weapon, a survival kit. . . . So here we are several billion of us, crowded into our global concentration camp for the duration. How are we to survive? Solemnity is not the answer, any more than witless and irresponsible frivolity is. I think our best chance lies in humor, which in this case means a wry acceptance of our predicament. We don't have to like it but we can at least recognize its ridiculous aspects, one of which is ourselves."
I'd have liked Ogden Nash - no doubt at all.