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Selected Poetry of Gelett Burgess (1866-1951)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

To him who vainly conjures sleep
In counting visionary sheep;
To her who, in the dentist's power
Would fain recall a gayer hour;
To him who visits tiresome aunts,
And comes upon this book by chance;
To her who in the hammock lies,
And, bored with Ibsen,
BURGESS tries;
To those who can't remember dates
While nonsense rhymes stick in their pates;
To those who buy, and do not borrow,
Nor put it off until to-morrow;
To all who in these pages look,
I dedicate this Nonsense Book!

            (Epigraph to The Burgess Nonsense Book)
  1. An Alphabet of Famous Goops
  2. The Floorless Room
  3. The Lazy Roof
  4. My Feet
  5. On Digital Extremities
  6. The Purple Cow
  7. The Purple Cow: Suite
  8. The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne
  9. A Woman's Reason


Notes on Life and Works

Born in Boston on January 30, 1866, Frank Gelett Burgess graduated from M.I.T. in 1887 with a B.Sc. and went to work as a draftsman, eventually becoming an instructor at the University of California at Berkeley. His gift was comic verse and fiction. In 1895-97 he edited The Lark in San Francisco and from then on contributed to magazines and published humorous novels, poems, and stories, including his elaborately illustrated The Burgess Nonsense Book (1901) and The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne (1904). He had moved to New York City in 1897 and married Estelle Loomis in 1914 but lived in Paris during the first world war. His main claim to fame was "The Purple Cow." He died on September 18, 1951, in Carmel, California.

Biographical information

Given name: Frank Gelett
Family name: Burgess
Birth date: 30 January 1866
Death date: 18 September 1951
Nationality: American
Literary period: modern