A while back I put out a post of silly poems that were fun and memorable,  that I had used to introduce my students to poetry.  Today I want to expand on that earlier post.

Let me begin with a great “Little Willie” rhyme:  (think back to your High School Chemistry class, or look it up!)

Alas, poor Little Willie–

Little Willie is no more:

What Willie thought was H2O

Was H2SO4.

More to the point:  I included without attribution the “Purple Cow” poem so popular a few years back.  I have since come across the author and some more information, so let me share.  In 1895, Gelett Burgess wrote

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.

In its first five years, it became so popular and was reprinted and presented so often that the author followed it up with the following:

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.

Today, we may remember a poem or two that Mr. Burgess wrote, but other than that he is unknown to us–which is a real shame, considering some of his accomplishments.  In 1914, he published a dictionary of “words you have always needed”, a few of which like bromide and blurb are in use today.  Some of his other words that perhaps we should consider using are below.  Comments in brackets are mine.

Cowcat– a person whose main function seems to be to occupy space.  [I wonder how many members of Congress this could be applied to.]

Digmix–a disagreeable or unwelcome duty, such as dish washing, fish cleaning, getting a divorce, or taking a child to the dentist.  [I have a whole new set of digmixes since I got out of the hospital.]

Drilligate–to keep talking to a person who needs to leave or wants to get away.  [Yup; I was drilligated just yesterday.]

Gefoojet–an unnecessary thing, which one ought to throw away but doesn’t.  [I have a few of them.]

Goig– a person we distrust instinctively.  [I’ve known of few of them.]

Hygog–an unsatisfied desire, such as a sneeze that won’t come.  [I’ve decided to use this when I try but can’t remember something;  I would rather have a hygog than a brainf**t, which seems to be the most common alternative.]

Impkin–a superhuman pet; a human offspring masquerading as an animal.  Burgess wrote, “Impkins are canine and feline, but their parents are usually asinine.”  [My family members are not allowed to comment on this one.]

Wog–bits of food on the face or in the teeth.  [This is a very useful word; instead of saying, “Uh, you’ve got something…uh…” and then pointing, we could just say, “You’ve got a wog on your chin.”  See how much more graceful that sounds?]

Thanks to Paul Dickson and his book Words for this entertaining information.