Sunday, November 12, 2006

Purple Cows

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

-- Frank Gelett Burgess

I know, I know, this isn't a photo of a purple cow. It's an ostrich in a racing harness. There are no purple cows and I don't have any photos of them. Oh, I suppose I could have created one with Photoshop, but that would take too much effort. I already had the photo of the ostrich in a racing harness.

Sometimes you make do.

I think Purple Cow is one of the first poems I ever memorized. Of course, it isn't much of a poem. But I could remember it. It was kind of like "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear; Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair; Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn't very fuzzy, was he?"

That always cracked me up as a kid.

But I digress.

Although for years I thought Ogden Nash wrote Purple Cow, it was actually written by Frank Gelett Burgess. The complete title was Purple Cow: Reflections on a Mythic Beast Who's Quite Remarkable, at Least (in 1895). The full title is almost longer than the poem. Once Burgess wrote the poem, he regretted it. This was expressed in his sequel to the poem:

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!

I kind of like that more than the original poem. Basically, I think poems should be like visits from relatives -- very brief.

Oh and if you are still wondering about the ostrich in a racing harness photo...well don't.


Alex Pendragon said...

Ostridge racing really should have taken off. I mean, they are the perfect racing stock......lose to many races, and you get a pretty good hamburger, and a healthy one at that! Greyhounds....well.....they just make hyper pets you can't keep with pet bunnies.

Anonymous said...

I didn't and I won't

Anonymous said...

I think the first poem I memorized was... something like...

One dark day
in the middle of the night
two dead boys
got up to fight

back to back
they faced eachother
drew their swords
and shot eachother

a deaf policeman
heard the noise
he said
"I'm gonna shoot
those two dead boys."

If you don't believe
this story is true
ask the blindman
he saw it too

Hayden said...

wow, shandi - I never heard the second 2 verses at all! that's new to me -

JP (mom) said...

Well, the fellow 'driving' the ostrich is interesting :-) As you can tell, I usually prefer brevity in poems ... the pages long narrative ones usually lose me early on, even if their poetic prose is flawless.

Time said...

THE Michael, taking the minority position on a topic as usual.

Whitesnake, I knew you wouldn't.

A nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat.

Commenting on a comment...oh well.

You noticed!

Anonymous said...

I like the old frog poem too:

What a wonderful bird the frog are!
When he sit, he stand
When he hop, he fly
He ain't got no sense hardly
He ain't go no tail hardly either
When he sit, he sit on what he ain't got

Okay, not much of rhyme scheme, but still.