It wasn't as if he didn't come from a distinguished family - Nashville, Tennessee, is named after an ancestor of Ogden Nash - but somehow the greatness of his forebears eluded him.
He knew he was a man of considerable talent, and wrote serious Romantic poetry (luckily he realised it was ridiculous before he got round to showing it to anyone else). Then, after some time spent scribbling bits of nonsense during periods of boredom in his copy-writing job, he published a book of silly verse and suddenly became feted and famous.
He even managed to earn a living with his verse about Life as it is Usually Lived. He wrote a successful musical, too, One Touch of Venus, and he appeared on the radio and television, and of course he wrote lots and lots more verse.
Here's a tiny taster to show that even great short art lives long:
In chaos sublunary
What remains constant but buffoonery?
I find the thought comforting.
Word To Use Today: buffoon. This word comes from the French bouffon, from the Italian buffone from the Latin būfō - which means, I'm afraid, toad.
photo by Brian Gratwicke