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Purple Cow

Purple Cow

Postby admin » Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:35 pm

"Purple Cow" is a short nonsense poem by American writer Gelett Burgess. It was first published in 1895.
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.[1]

Publication history[edit]

The May 1895 issue of The Lark in which Burgess's "Purple Cow" first appeared
The poem was first published in the first issue of Burgess's magazine The Lark in May 1895 and became his most widely known work.[2] It originally had the longer title "The Purple Cow's projected feast/Reflections on a Mythic Beast/Who's Quite Remarkable, at Least".[3] This publication of the poem also included an illustration by Burgess featuring a cow jumping over an art nouveau fence heading towards a naked human, with both the cow and the human filled in black.[3] A poster version of his illustration is part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.[4]

The poem became popular, eventually becoming what one commentator called "[t]he most quoted poem in twentieth-century America, after 'The Night Before Christmas'".[5] In addition to being widely anthologized,[2] it was often transmitted orally without credit to Burgess.[3] Many years after its appearance, publicist Jim Moran appeared at Burgess' home with a cow he had painted purple.[6]

Burgess came to resent its popularity. A few years after writing the poem, Burgess wrote another short poem in response, titled "Confession: and a Portrait Too, Upon a Background that I Rue", which appeared in the final issue of The Lark in April of 1897:[7]

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![8]

Afterlife of the poem[edit]
Several parodies of "The Purple" have been written by others, including O. Henry.[6]

United States President Harry S. Truman was once asked by UFO researcher and publisher James W. Moseley if he'd ever seen a UFO. Truman reportedly responded by reciting lines from Burgess's poem. [9]

"Purple Cow" is also the name of the ice cream shop found inside Meijer stores. Founder Fred Meijer handed out cards for free ice cream at any Meijer Purple Cow ice cream shop to customers as part of a promotional campaign.[10][relevant? – discuss][11]

Marketer Seth Godin has used the phrase "Purple Cow" for the concept of marketing a product as "intrinsically different".[12] The phrase has also been used for the marketing concept of choosing a name which "makes your audience stop in their tracks and wonder why the title was chosen."[13][relevant? – discuss]

A purple cow is the mascot of Williams College, a private liberal arts college in Williamstown, Massachusetts, which was named after the college's humor magazine Purple Cow, which, in turn, was named after Burgess's poem.[14]
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