16 Clever Quips from Ogden Nash

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Getty

Happy birthday to poet Ogden Nash, known for his ability to turn a witty verse on everything from politics to celery. “I think in terms of rhyme, and have since I was six years old,” he once said [PDF]. Lucky for us.

In honor of what would have been his 114th birthday today, here are some of his greatest hits.

1. ON LIQUID COURAGE:

“Candy
Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.”

— "Reflections on Ice-Breaking"

Nash updated the poem in 1968, adding this line at the end: “Pot is not.”

2. ON PROGRESS:

“Progress might have been alright once, but it has gone on too long.”

— "Come, Come, Kerouac! My Generation is Beater Than Yours"

3. ON HAPPINESS:

“There is only one way to achieve happiness on this terrestrial ball, and that is to have either a clear conscience or none at all.”

—"Interoffice Memorandum"

4. ON WORKING:

“If you don’t want to work you have to work to earn enough money so that you won’t have to work.”

—"More About People"

5. ON VISUAL POLLUTION:

In 1958, a reporter asked Nash if he thought any of his poetry had done anything to help the human race. Nash smiled and recited this piece:

“I think that I shall never see
A billboard lovely as a tree.
Perhaps, unless the billboards fall,
I'll never see a tree at all.”

— "Song of the Open Road"

6. & 7. ON ANIMALS:

“The trouble with a kitten is
THAT
eventually it becomes a
CAT."

— "The Kitten"

“The cow is of the bovine ilk; one end is moo, the other milk.”

— "The Cow"

8. ON INSECTS:

"God in His wisdom made the fly
And then forgot to tell us why."

—"The Fly"

9. ON MIDDLE AGE

“Middle age is when you've met so many people that every new person you meet reminds you of someone else.”

— "Let's Not Climb the Washington Monument"

10. ON MARRIAGE:

“To keep your marriage brimming
with love in the loving cup,
Whenever you’re wrong, admit it;
Whenever you’re right, shut up.”

— "A Word to Husbands"

11. ON PARSLEY:

"Parsley
Is gharsley."

— "Further Reflections on Parsley"

12. & 13. ON MONEY:

“Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny —
Have you ever tried to buy them without money?”

— "The Terrible People"

"O, money, money, money,
I’m not necessarily one of those who think thee holy,
But I often stop to wonder how thou canst go out so fast
When thou comest in so slowly.”

— "Hymn to the Thing that Makes the Wolf Go"

14. ON YETIS:

“I've never seen an abominable snowman
I'm hoping not to see one.
I'm also hoping, if I do,
That it will be a wee one."

— "The Abominable Snowman"

15. ON CHILDREN:

"Children aren't happy with nothing to ignore,
And that's what parents were created for."

"The Parent"

16. ON CHOCOLATE:

“If some confectioners were willing
To let the shape announce the filling
We’d encounter few assorted chocs
Bitten into and returned to the box.”

— "Assorted Chocolates"

Can You Identify the Classic Novel by Its Opening Lines?

Annotations in Copy of Shakespeare's First Folio May Have Been John Milton's

GeorgiosArt/iStock via Getty Images
GeorgiosArt/iStock via Getty Images

It's a well-known literary fact that William Shakespeare had an enormous influence on "Paradise Lost" poet John Milton, and new evidence suggests that super fan Milton—who even wrote a poem called "On Shakespeare"—might have owned his idol's first folio.

The folio, which contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, was published in 1623—seven years after the Bard’s death. An estimated 750 first folios were printed, with only 233 of them known to have survived, including one with annotations written throughout it. As it turns out, those scribbles might be Milton's.

According to The Guardian, Cambridge University fellow Jason Scott-Warren believes that Milton wrote those important annotations. Scott-Warren read an article about an anonymous annotator written by Pennsylvania State University English professor Claire Bourne. The Folio copy in question has been stored in the Free Library of Philadelphia since 1944, and Bourne was able to date the annotator back to the mid-1600s. (Milton died in 1674.) It was Scott-Warren who noticed that the handwritten notes looked similar to Milton’s handwriting.

"It shows you the firsthand encounter between two great writers, which you don’t often get to see, especially in this period,” Scott-Warren told The Guardian. “A lot of that kind of evidence is lost, so that’s really exciting.”

If the writing does indeed belong to Milton, it’s not the first time the poet has left notes on another writer's work; he supposedly marked up his copy of Giovanni Boccaccio’s Life of Dante as well. Scott-Warren and Bourne plan to pair up to find out if Milton left annotations on any other notable works.

"It was, until a few days ago, simply too much to hope that Milton’s own copy of Shakespeare might have survived—and yet the evidence here so far is persuasive,” Dr. Will Poole, a fellow and tutor at Oxford's New College said. "This may be one of the most important literary discoveries of modern times."

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