But Liquor Is Quicker."
Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was one of the great writers of American humorous poetry, noted for couplets or other poems that rhyme, but the lines are of different length and irregular meter. He lived in Baltimore most of his life, and included several paeans to it in his work. Also noted are his series of poems set to Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals and his one successful musical, One Touch of Venus.
Tropes in Ogden Nash's work:
- Ad Hominem: "Yes-and-No Man" is about a man who wants to be concerned about the direction the country is headed—but cannot stand all the mutual demonization between left and right.
- Affably Evil: "The Japanese" (written during World War II) discusses the Japanese reputation for etiquette and how imperialistic they were at the time.
- Analogy Backfire: The poem "The Romantic Age", about a lovestruck teenage girl who:Presses lips and tosses head,
Declares she's not too young to wed.
Informs you pertly you forget
Romeo and Juliet.
Do not argue, do not shout;
Remind her how that one turned out.
- Asshole Victim:
- In the first verse "Polterguest, my Polterguest", the narrator claims such exasperation as to tempt him to throw the bitch under a train. In the last verse, we learn that he has already tried, unsuccessfully, to drown her.
- Double Subverted with Pinball Pete in A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor. A man comes to the hotel where Pete resides, seeking revenge for one of the many women Pete has ruined. The lift operator attempts to persuade him that murder, even of a man like Pete, is not worth the price, and succeeds — then admits that he's already murdered Pinball Pete himself. "You see — I had a daughter, too."
- Combined with Felony Misdemeanor in "The Strange Case of the Dead Divorcee," in which a governor immediately pardons a man who killed his wife after learning of the absolutely irresistible provocation presented by the dead woman's habit of... drinking half of her husband's drink instead of ordering her own and letting him drink the half she doesn't finish. The governor's own wife promptly winds up dead as well. (It's Played for Laughs.)
- Bears Are Bad News: Isabel's first foe in "The Adventures of Isabel" is a hungry bear who tries to eat her (only to have the tables turned on him.)
- But Liquor Is Quicker: "Reflections on Ice-Breaking" is the Trope Namer.
- Ceiling Banger:We might love the people upstairs wonderous
If, instead of above us, they lived just underus.
- Least Rhymable Word:There are no rhymes for orange or silver,
Unless liberties you pilfer.
- Literal-Minded: "Very Like A Whale" is all about the narrator's dislike of metaphor.
- Little Did I Know: "Don't Guess, Let Me Tell You".
- Little Miss Badass: The heroine of "The Adventures of Isabel" (named after Nash's own daughter) is an unflappable little girl you don't want to get on the wrong side of, see her dealings with an enormous bear:Isabel, Isabel didn't worry
Isabel didn't scream or scurry.
She washed her hands and straightened her hair up
Then Isabel quietly ate the bear up.
- Missing Floor: "A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor".
- Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: One of Isabel's foes in the poem is a doctor who applies shock therapy to her; he gets A Taste Of His Own Medicine (literally) by the heroine.
- Owls Ask "Who?": Done in "Carnival of the Animals":But do not laugh at the jackass wild, for there is method in his he-haw:For with maidenly blush, and accent mild, the jenny-ass answers "She-haw".
- Painful Rhyme: Played for Laughs, and often lampshaded by changes in the spelling. One of the best/worst ones:O Kangaroo, O Kangaroo,
Be grateful that you’re in the zoo,
And not transmuted by a boomerang
To zestful tangy Kangaroo meringue.
- Romantic Hyperbole:More than a catbird hates a cat,
Or a criminal hates a clue,
Or the Axis hates the United States,
That's how much I love you....
- Somewhere, an Ornithologist Is Crying: The malediction against hotel managers in "Mr. Purvis Dreads Room Service; or, Mrs. Purvis Dreads it Too". Alas, scarlet tanagers do not apparently go after Japanese beetles, invasive bugs that are a major frustration to American gardeners.
- Spotlight-Stealing Title: "The Self-Effacement of Electra Thorne":As for egocentricity, good heavens!
What's egocentric about wanting the marquee to readELECTRA THORNE
OPHELIA AND HAMLET
- Stuffy Old Songs About the Buttocks: "The Clean Platter"Some singers sing of ladies' eyes
And some of ladies' lips,
Refined ones praise their ladylike ways,
And coarse ones hymn their hips.
- Termite Trouble/Floorboard Failure: "The Termite"Some primal termite knocked on wood
Tasted it, and found it good
And that is why your Cousin May
Fell through the parlor floor today.
- The So-Called Coward: "Custard the Dragon" is about a woman named Belinda who lived with a kitten, a mouse, a dog, and a dragon. Counter-intuitively, the kitten, mouse, and dog were all described as being very brave, while the dragon was a coward. However, when a pirate broke into the house and threatened Belinda, the three supposedly 'brave' animals ran and hid, and Custard stood his ground, fought the pirate, and ate him.
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: "Polterguest, My Polterguest".
- Wicked Witch: Isabel meets one on a "a night as black as pitch", who tries to turn her into a toad.
- Wendigo:The Wendigo, the Wendigo
I saw it just a friend ago
Last night it lurked in Canada
Tonight on your veranada!
- Wham Line: From the end of "A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor"But I turned the heat on Pinball Pete
You see, I had a daughter too.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Conversed regarding Yowler the Bobcat in Burgess Bedtime Stories, where a Merry Little Breeze always alerts Yowler's prey in the nick of time.