Thursday, July 8, 2021

Ogden Nash (#PoemForAThursday)


Medusa and the Mot Juste

Once there was a Greek divinity of the sea named Ceto and she married a man named Phorcus,
And the marriage must have been pretty raucous;
Their remarks about which child took after which parent must have been full of asperities,
Because they were the parents of the Gorgons, and the Graeae, and Scylla, and the dragon which guarded the Hesperides.
Bad blood somewhere.
Today the Gorgons are our topic, and as all schoolboys including you and me know,
They were three horrid sisters named Medusa and Euryale and Stheno,
But what most schoolboys don't know because they never get beyond their Silas Marners and their Hiawathas,
The Gorgons were not only monsters, they were also highly talented authors.
Medusa began it;
She wrote Forever Granite.
But soon Stheno and Euryale were writing, too, and they addressed her in daily choruses,
Saying we are three literary sisters just like the Brontës so instead of the Gorgons why can't we be the brontësauruses?
Well, Medea may have been mythical but she wasn't mystical,
She was selfish and egotistical,
She saw wider vistas
Than simply being the sister of her sisters.
She replied, tossing away a petrified Argonaut on whom she had chipped a molar,
You two can be what you like, but since I am the big fromage in this family, I prefer to think of myself as the Gorgon Zola.

-Ogden Nash 

Since I was just looking at the outside of my Ogden Nash books, it naturally followed I started looking at the inside, too. And even though those outsides are by Maurice Sendak as it turns out, the inside is the real deal here. I thought about posting some old favorite: 'The Termite', say, or 'Portrait of the Artist as a Prematurely Old Man', but then this one caught my eye. An elaborate set-up for what is, in the end--ahem, wait for it!--a cheesy pun...simply couldn't resist. This poem comes from The Private Dining Room and other verses, of 1953, and is part of a series on 'Fables Bulfinch Forgot'.

Poem For a Thursday is a meme founded by Jennifer of Holds Upon Happiness. 


  1. Nash is ludicrously wonderful. i'm not surprised he wrote the whole poem just so he could use "Gorgon Zola", lol... i might have one of his books around somewhere; i envy your collection... somehow i equate Nash with Walt Kelly, another zany brain, even tho he composed cartoons instead of prose... i distinctly recall falling out of a chair with laughter at a very young age, reading about the antics of Pogo and Albert the Alligator; not on the same level, tho, i suppose...

    1. I think Walt Kelly's pretty great, too. And capable of poetry, Deck the Halls, etc.

      That sort of being intelligent & funny on a regular basis in a newspaper used to be a thing, Don Marquis, too, but it gradually moved from the columns to the comics, and then the comics started to get tiny.

      And now? Well, newspapers used to be a thing, too...

  2. Nash's poems always make me smile!

  3. I've enjoyed Nash's shorter rhymes forever, but this magnificent poem took my breath away.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! The short ones are so much fun, but the long ones can be great, too.

  4. Oh my goodness. I had no idea that Ogden Nash was so cleverly delightful.

    You've sent me off into my day with a happy smile.

  5. Wow, amazing! And what a gorgeous character-filled collection.

    1. I hadn't realized until recently that a bunch of them were illustrated by Maurice Sendak.