Shake the ketchup to the King of Bum
No, the famous U.S. humorist Ogden Nash (1902-1971) was NOT the author of that immortal couplet, although many people claim he was. (He DID write Candy / is dandy / But liquor / is quicker.)
One website, noting that August 19 was the anniversary of Nash's birthday, gave this circumstantial but misleading account: "One summer afternoon in 1930, he jotted down a little nonsense poem and sent it to The New Yorker. The magazine bought it, and asked for more. Nash moved to Baltimore and for the next 40 years made his living entirely off of poems like You shake and shake the ketchup bottle, nothing comes, and then a lot'll."
Nonsense! According to Nash's grand-daughter, Frances R. Smith of Baltimore, Maryland, (and she should know) what he actually wrote was:
(Catsup is another American word for ketchup. Brits and Aussies call it tomato sauce.)
Then, in 1949, another US humorist, Richard Willard Armour (1906-1989), seems to have gleefully seized on Nash's rhyme, and produced the couplet that many people enjoy reciting to this day.
Armour was a master of the comical one-liner. Here are three of his aphorisms:
Apart from lot'll, it's not difficult to find a suitable rhyme for bottle. We can think of throttle, wattle, dottle (a plug of tobacco remaining in a pipe after a smoke), glottal and mottle.
Ogden Nash found a rhyme for parsley by slightly changing the spelling of ghastly. He wrote Parsley / is gharstly.
Dozens of internet sites assert that nothing rhymes with four other common
words: three colors, orange, purple, and silver, and the word month, but
that's not quite true. Let's see what a web search turns up:
"But unless you want to resort to using a nonsense word, you had better
rewrite your verse so another word comes at the end of the line!"
PURPLE. What about curple? Plymouth, New Hampshire (US) blogger WttyGrrl (Amanda L. Conaway) says:
MONTH. How about oneth? Discussing Dodie Smith's book The Hundred and One Dalmatians, a reviewer wrote: "This is the original novel, published in 1956, from which the movie adaptations were made--poorly... How many people know who the actual 101th dalmatian was?"
And on a genealogy site, we found this message, posted on February 29, 2004, from Kevin Oneth:
Of course, there are hundreds of stories read by seven-year-olds with missing front teeth, which begin Oneth upon a time.
An Irish blogger, Sinéad Gibney, of Dublin, shows a photo of a poster advertising The 21th Annual Warriors Run. She says:
[Sinéad (pronounced Sin-aid) is a diminutive form of the French name Jeanne. That's Jane or Janet in English. And Co. Sligeach is County Sligo, and means "place of shells.".]
SILVER. Discussing his family name, Trevar Chilver says
There's a Chilver Street in the London (UK) borough of Greenwich. So poets could write:
Elizabeth Millicent (Sally) Chilver (b. 1914) a London Daily News journalist 1945-47, became a distinguished political scientist and anthropologist. The British Library of Political and Economic Science says she studied "the anthropology of the Cameroon grasslands... covering subjects including matrilineal society, witchcraft, magic and divination, with notes on the authors by Chilver; working notes on the Kingdom of Bum in the north-west province of Cameroon."
That's right: the Kingdom of Bum. We thought that must be a spoof. Not so. Take a look at the Kingdom of Bum, and Fonfuka and Lagabum websites. Fascinating!