Foodie Tuesday: Ogden Nash, The Clean Plater

I have a gig this weekend with West 73rd, a quartet dedicated to exploring and re-imagining the music of Kurt Weill.  Weill had a deep love for American popular song, and he wrote prolifically for the Broadway stage, collaborating with some of the United States’ finest poets and lyricists.  One of my favorite Weill compositions is “Speak Low,” a pensive, moody meditation on the fleeting nature of love, with lyrics by the great American poet Ogden Nash.

Nash was best known for his humorous reflections on aging, marriage, parenthood, and–yes–food.  His rhymes were unconventional and unexpected, and he wasn’t above creating a new spelling (or a new word altogether) to make a point.  Here are a few of my favorite Ogden Nash odes to eating and drinking:

Celery
Celery, raw
Develops the jaw,
But celery, stewed,
Is more quietly chewed.

A Drink With Something In It
There is something about a Martini,
A tingle remarkably pleasant;
A yellow, a mellow Martini;
I wish I had one at present.
There is something about a Martini,
Ere the dining and dancing begin,
And to tell you the truth,
It is not the vermouth–
I think that perhaps it’s the gin.

Further Reflections on Parsley
Parsley
Is Gharsley.

The Clean Plater (excerpt)
Go purloin a sirloin, my pet,
If you’d win a devotion incredible;
And asparagus tips vinaigrette,
Or anything else that is edible.
Bring salad or sausage or scrapple,
A berry or even a beet.
Bring an oyster, an egg, or an apple,
As long as it’s something to eat.
If it’s food,
It’s food;
Never mind what kind of food.
When I ponder my mind
I consistently find
It is glued
On food.

Reading the last few lines of “The Clean Plater,” I can only shake my head in writerly admiration and say, “Mine too, Ogden.  Mine, too.”

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4 thoughts on “Foodie Tuesday: Ogden Nash, The Clean Plater

  1. Thanks so much. I’ve adored Nash since, well, a long time ago.
    Perhaps my favorite poem of his is “To a Lady Passing Time Better Left Unpassed,” his reworking of Andrew Marvell’s, “To His Coy Mistress.”

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