One of the enjoyments I get out of being a book guy, is coming across authors or illustrators about whom I know nothing. I have featured some of these in earlier musings. Earlier today, I came across and acquired the following little treasure.
Ogden Nash’s Musical Zoo; Tunes by Vernon Duke with Illustrations by Frank Owen; Little Brown and Company, Boston, 1947, first edition.
The illustration got me first – it is fabulous. All 3 players are so into making music. I knew this was a good book. The name, Ogden Nash, rang a bell, but it was in the distance. Until I got home and opened up my Wikipedia encyclopedia.
Frederic Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse, of which he wrote over 500 pieces. With his unconventional rhyming schemes, he was declared by The New York Times, 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's bespectacled
May not get her nectacled
Sometimes the words rhyme by mispronunciation rather than misspelling, as in:
Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I'll stare at something less prepoceros
Nash 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.
The US Postal Service released a postage stamp featuring Ogden Nash and text from six of his poems on the centennial of his birth on August 19, 2002. The six poems are "The Turtle", "The Cow", "Crossing The Border", "The Kitten", "The Camel", and "Limerick One". Two of these are featured in this book.
Here is listing of the rhymes found in the book.
Vernon Duke (1903 – 1969) was a Russian-born American composer/songwriter who also wrote
under his birth name, Vladimir Dukelsky. He is best known for "Taking a Chance on Love" with lyrics by Ted Fetter and John Latouche (1940), "I Can't Get Started" with lyrics by Ira Gershwin (1936), "April in Paris" with lyrics by E. Y. ("Yip") Harburg (1932), and "What Is There To Say" for the Ziegfeld Follies of 1934. Not a shabby resource for Nash’s rhymes!
I must say that I am really disappointed in not finding out anything about the illustrator, Frank Owen. His illustrations are terrific - creative and well-executed. He must have a body of work out there somewhere. There is an artist by that name, but he was born in 1939 so it isn’t him.
If any reader knows of this illustrator or has suggestions on where to search for information, please drop me a note.
Here are two more rhymes and illustrations to finish up on.