Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If only he had known about wool-wash

I don't know about you, but I grew up with the poetry of Shel Silverstein. Where the Sidewalk Ends was always checked out of the school library and even had a waiting list. His poems were fun and funny, not too serious but with a few touching moments. As an adult, I still enjoy rereading them from time to time. But in the intervening years I've added another humorous classic poet to my bookshelf: Ogden Nash. Some of his poems are strictly rhythmed and rhymed, others read almost like free verse with rhyming words at the ends of each phrase only, for instance "What Almost Every Woman Knows Sooner or Later". He wrote on a wide variety of subjects, from animals to airplanes and children to grandparents. One of my favorites is this:

The Centipede
by Ogden Nash
I objurgate the centipede,
A bug we do not really need.
At sleepy-time he beats a path
Straight to the bedroom or the bath.
You always wallop where he's not,
Or if he is, he makes a spot.
I dare you to find another poet who uses the word objurgate. Meanwhile, yarny goodness makes an appearance in his works, too. If only dear Mr. Nash had known about Eucalan or any of the other fine wool-washes we now have for our hand-knits, we might never have had "Shrinking Song," his ode to woollen socks.

Shrinking Song
by Ogden Nash
Woollen socks, woollen socks!
Full of color, full of clocks!
Plain and fancy, yellow, blue,
From the counter beam at you.
O golden fleece, O magic flocks!
O irresistible woollen socks!
O happy haberdasher's clerk
Amid that galaxy to work!
And now it festers, now it rankles
Not to have them round your ankles;
Now with your conscience do you spar;
They look expensive, and they are;
Now conscience whispers, You ought not to,
And human nature cries, You've got to!
Woollen socks, woollen socks!
First you buy them in a box.
You buy them several sizes large,
Fit for Hercules, or a barge.
You buy them thus because you think
These lovely woollen socks may shrink.
At home you don your socks with ease,
You find the heels contain your knees;
You realize with saddened heart
Their toes and yours are far apart.
You take them off and mutter Bosh,
You up and send them to the wash.
Too soon, too soon the socks return,
Too soon the horrid truth you learn;
Your woollen socks can not be worn
Unless a midget child is born,
and either sockless you must go,
Or buy a sock for every toe.
Woollen socks, woollen socks!
Infuriating paradox! Hosiery wonderful and terrible,
Heaven to wear, and yet unwearable.
The man enmeshed in such a quandary
Can only hie him to the laundry,
and while his socks are hung to dry,
Wear them once as they're shrinking by.
See how a little wool-wash and laying flat to dry would have solved his problem? Although one little sock for each toe sounds very cute. If you need to wash your wooly hand-knits in a location where you don't have access to your favorite wool-wash, try a little shampoo in cold or tepid water. Rinse and squeeze water out gently as you normally would. To conclude today's post, here's one more of Mr. Nash's shorter works which can be enjoyed by yarn-o-philes everywhere:

The Mermaid
by Ogden Nash
Say not the mermaid is a myth,
I knew one once named Mrs. Smith.
She stood while playing cards or knitting;
Mermaids are not equipped for sitting.
(Although how she managed to stand, I don't know - as Gilbert & Sullivan acknowledge in the Pirates of Penzance, "tails they may - but feet, they cannot!")

For more about Ogden Nash, see www.ogdennash.org.

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