Treasure Island

Carolyn Wells

(1869-1942 / the United States)

The Purple Cow Parodies


Gelett Burgess' original poem…

A 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.


Poem parodied in the
style of…


John Milton


Hence, vain, deluding cows.
The herd of folly, without colour bright,
How little you delight,
Or fill the Poet's mind, or songs arouse!
But, hail! thou goddess gay of feature!
Hail divinest purple creature!
Oh, Cow, thy visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight.
And though I'd like, just once, to see thee
I never, never, never'd be thee!


Percy Bysshe Shelley


Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Cow thou never wert;
But in life to cheer it
Playest thy full part
In purple lines of unpremeditated art.

The pale purple colour
Melts around thy sight
Like a star, but duller,
In the broad daylight.
I'd see thee, but I would not be thee if I might.

We look before and after
At the cattle as they browse;
Our most hearty laughter
Something sad must rouse.
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of Purple Cows.


John Keats


A cow of purple is a joy forever.
Its loveliness increases. I have never
Seen this phenomenon. Yet ever keep
A brave lookout; lest I should be asleep
When she comes by. For, though I would not be one,
I've oft imagined 'twould be a joy to see one.


William Wordsworth


She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dee;
A Cow whom there were few to praise
And very few to see.

A violet by a mossy stone
Greeting the smiling East
Is not so purple, I must own,
As that erratic beast.

She lived unknown, that Cow, and so
I never chanced to see;
But if I had to be one, oh,
The difference to me!


Thomas Grey


The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o'er the lea;
I watched them slowly wend their weary way,
But, ah, a Purple Cow I did not see.
Full many a cow of purplest ray serene
Is haply grazing where I may not see;
Full many a donkey writes of her, I ween,
But neither of these creatures would I be.


Lord Alfred Tennyson


Ask me no more. A cow I fain would see
Of purple tint, like to a sun-soaked grape -
Of purple tint, like royal velvet cape -
But such a creature I would never be -
Ask me no more.


Robert Browning


All that I know
Of a certain Cow
Is it can throw,
Somewhere, somehow,
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue
(That makes purple, 'tis said).
I would fain see, too,
This Cow that darkles the red and the blue!


Dante G. Rossetti


The purple cow strayed in the glade;
(Oh, my soul! but the milk is blue!)
She strayed and strayed and strayed and strayed
(And I wail and I cry Wa-hoo!).

I've never seen her - nay, not I;
(Oh, my soul! but the milk is blue!)
Yet were I that cow I should want to die.
(And I wail and I cry Wa-hoo!).
But in vain my tears I strew.


Thomas Aldrich


Somewhere in some faked nature place,
In Wonderland, in Nonsense Land,
Two darkling shapes met face to face,
And bade each other stand.

'And who are you?' said each to each;
'Tell me your title, anyhow.'
One said, 'I am the Papal Bull,'
'And I the Purple Cow.'


Rudyard Kipling


In the old ten-acre pasture,
Lookin' eastward toward a tree,
There's a Purple Cow a-settin'
And I know she thinks of me.
For the wind is in the gum-tree,
And the hay is in the mow,
And the cow-bells are a-calling
'Come and see a Purple Cow!'

But I am not going now,
Not at present, anyhow,
For I am not fond of purple, and
I can't abide a cow;
No, I shall not go today,
Where the Purple Cattle play.
But I think I'd rather see one
Than to be one, anyhow.


Edgar Allan Poe


Open then I flung a shutter,
And, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a Purple Cow which gayly tripped around my floor.
Not the least obeisance made she,
Not a moment stopped or stayed she,
But with mien of chorus lady perched herself above my door.
On a dusty bust of Dante perched and sat above my door.

And that Purple Cow unflitting
Still is sitting - still is sitting
On that dusty bust of Dante just above my chamber door,

And her horns have all the seeming
Of a demon's that is sreaming,
And the arc-light o'er her streaming
Casts her shadow on the floor.
And my soul from out that pool of Purple shadow on the floor,
Shall be lifted Nevermore!


Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wing of night
As ballast is wafted downward
From an air-ship in its flight.

I dream of a purple creature
Which is not as kine are now;
And resembles cattle only
As Cowper resembles a cow.

Such cows have power to quiet
Our restless thoughts and rude;
They come like the Benedictine
That follows after food.


Algernon Swinburne


Oh, Cow of rare rapturous vision,
Oh, purple, impalpable Cow,
Do you browse in a Dream Field Elysian,
Are you purpling pleasantly now?
By the side of wan waves do you languish?
Or in the lithe lush of the grove?
While vainly I search in my anguish,
O Bovine of mauve!

Despair in my bosom is sighing,
Hope's star has sunk sadly to rest;
Though cows of rare sorts I am buying,
Not one breathes a balm to my breast.
Oh, rapturous rose-crowned occasion,
When I such a glory might see!
But a cow of a purple persuasion
I never would be.


Austin Dobson


I'd love to see
A Purple Cow.
Oh, Goodness me!
I'd love to see
But not to be
One. Anyhow,
I'd love to see
A Purple Cow.


Oliver Herford


Children, observe the Purple Cow,
You cannot see her, anyhow;
And, little ones, you need not hope
Your eyes will e'er attain such scope.
But if you ever have a choice
To be, or see, lift up your voice
And choose to see. For surely you
Don't want to browse around and moo.


H.C. Bunner


O, what's the way to Arcady,
Where all the cows are purple?
Ah, woe is me!I never hope
On such a sight my eyes to ope;
But as I sing in merry glee
Along the road of Arcady,
Perchance full soon I may espy
A Purple Cow come dancing by.
Heigho! I then shall see one.
Her horns bedecked with ribbons gay,
And garlanded with rosy may, -
A tricksy sight. Still I must say
I'd rather see than be one.


Algernon Swinburne 2


Only in dim, drowsy depths of a dream do I dare to delight in deliciously dreaming
Cows there may be of a passionate purple, - cows of a violent violet hue;

Ne'er have I seen such a sight, I am certain it is but a demi-delirious dreaming -
Ne'er may I happily harbour a hesitant hope in my heart that my dream may come true.

Sad is my soul, and my senses are sobbing so strong is my strenuous spirit to see one.
Dolefully, drearily doomed to despair as warily wearily watching I wait;

Thoughts thickly thronging are thrilling and throbbing;
to
see
is a glorious gain - but to
be
one!
That were a darker and direfuller destiny, that were a fearfuller, frighfuller fate!

Submitted: Monday, September 13, 2010

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