Frank Gelett Burgess was an artist, art critic, poet, author and humorist. An important figure in the San Francisco Bay Area literary renaissance of the 1890s, particularly through his iconoclastic little magazine, The Lark, he is best known as a writer of nonsense verse. He was the author of the popular Goops books, and he invented the blurb.
Born in Boston, Burgess was "raised among staid, conservative New England gentry". He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduating with a B.S. in 1887. After graduation, Burgess fled conservative Boston for the livelier bohemia of San Francisco, where he took a job working as a draftsman for ... more »
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Gelett Burgess Poems
The Purple Cow
I never saw a Purple Cow, I never hope to see one, But I can tell you, anyhow, I’d rather see than be one!
A Woman's Reason
I'm Sure every Word that you say is Absurd; I Say it's All Gummidge and Twaddle; You may Argue away till the 19th of May, But I don't like the Sound of the Moddle!
The meanest trick I ever knew Was one I know you never do. I saw a Goop once try to do it, And there was nothing funny to it.
The Floorless Room
I Wish that my Room had a Floor! I don't so Much Care for a Door, But this Crawling Around Without Touching the Ground Is Getting to be Quite a Bore!
My Feet they haul me Round the House, They Hoist me up the Stairs; I only have to Steer them, and
The Lazy Roof
The Roof it has a Lazy Time A-Lying in the Sun; The Walls, they have to Hold Him Up; They do Not Have Much Fu
The Purple Cow: Suite
Ah, Yes! I Wrote the 'Purple Cow' -- I'm Sorry, now, I Wrote it! But I can Tell you Anyhow, I'll Kill you if you Quote it!
An Alphabet of Famous Goops
ABEDNEGO was Meek and Mild; he Softly Spoke, he Sweetly Smiled. He never Called his Playmates Names, and he was Good in Running Games; But he was Often in Disgrace because he had a Dirty Face!
On Digital Extremities
I'd Rather have Fingers than Toes; I'd Rather have Ears than a Nose; And As for my Hair, I'm Glad it's All There;
1 THE Window has Four little Panes: But One have I;
I'd Rather Have Habits Than Clothes
I'd Rather Have Habits Than Clothes, For that's where my intellect shows. And as for my hair,
If aught that stumbles in my speech Or stutters in my pen, Or, claiming tribute, each to each,
If echoes from the fitful past Could rise to mental view, Would all their fancied radiance last Or would some odors from the blast,
Twine then the rays Round her soft Theban tissues. All will be as She says, When the dead Past reissues.
Quotationsmore quotations »
''To appreciate nonsense requires a serious interest in life.''Gelett Burgess (1866-1951), U.S. humorist, illustrator. "The Sense of Humor," The Romance of the Commonplace (1916).
Comments about Gelett Burgess
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The Purple Cow
I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one,
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I’d rather see than be one!