Complete lyrics of “Cuttings from a Nonsense Book”
(words: Gelett Burgess; music: John Kilpatrick [on this page])

1. Introduction and Epigram

The Burgess Nonsense Book, being a complete collection of the humorous masterpieces
of Gelett Burgess Esquire, sometime Editor of The Lark. With nonsense quatrains,
epics, poems, cartoons, and a myriad impossibilities, adorned with less than a
million heart-rending illustrations by the author. The whole forming a book of
blissful bosh for the blasé; an infallible Cyclopedia of Balderdash, Ferocious
Fancies and Inconsequential Vagaries – than which, nothing could be more so.

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 across 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 tomorrow;
To all who in these pages look,
I dedicate this Nonsense Book!

2. Digital Extremities

On digital extremities:
A poem and a gem it is!

I’d rather have fingers than toes;
I’d rather have ears than a nose;
And as for my hair, I'm glad it’s all there;
I'll be awfully sad when it goes.

3. Cranial Ambulation

The lecture: a slight divagation
Concerning cranial ambulation.

I love to go to lectures
And make the people stare
By walking round upon their heads
And spoiling people’s hair!

4. City Flora

On City Flora: – semi-culled
By one whose fame is somewhat dulled.

There is a theory some deny
That lampposts once were three foot high;
And a little boy was terrible strong,
And he stretched ’em out to ’leven foot long.

5. My Fancies

My fancies: fatuous vagaries
Inspired by my coal-hearted Lares.

My Fancies like the flames aspire;
I dream of fame and fate;
I see my future in the fire,
And oh, ’tis simply grate.

[6. Instrumental]

7a. The Minutes

The meeting of a social club: at which
(The secretary's minutes seem to show)
Proceedings did not go without a hitch.
If you have ever been to one, you’ll know!

As Mr Smith still held the floor the chair objected to motion
made by Mr Jones as being out of order . . . Mr Robinson, failing
to receive his expected support, and not being recognized by the chair,
dropped out of the discussion; there seemed to be a general desire to
reopen the subject that had been laid upon the table.

7b. The Museum of Kisses (alternative to 7a.)

The Museum of Kisses: Surely
No-one could visit it demurely

This is the place I’d like to burglarize;
It is the Royal Museum of Kisses.
It has an annual show, and gives a prize
To all the most deserving men and misses.
And ranged in various rows about the wall
Are kisses, all deserving our attention;
But in one room, the sweetest, best of all,
Are those of one whose name I dare not mention!

8. The Floorless Room

The floorless room: a novel sort
Of argument without support.

I wish that my room had a floor!
I don’t so much care for a door;
But this crawling around without touching the ground
Is getting to be quite a bore!

9. The Window Pain

The window pain: a theme symbolic,
Pertaining to the Melon Colic.

The window has four little panes;
But one have I.
The window pains are in its sash;
I wonder why!

10. The Towel and the Door (and vice-versa)

The Towel and the Door, Ah well,
The moral I'd not dare to tell!

The towel hangs upon the wall,
And somehow, I don’t care, at all!
The door is open; I must say,
I rather fancy it that way!

The Door and Towel, once again:
Preposterous, Inverse, Insane!

The towel hangs upon the wall,
And somehow, I don’t care, at all!
The door is open; I must say,
I rather fancy it that way!

11. The Purple Cow

(a) The 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.

(b) The Purpil Cowe

A Mayde there was, semely and meek enow,
She sate a-milken of a purpil Cowe:
Rosy hire Cheke as in the Month of Maye,
And sikerly her merry Songe was gay
As of the Larke uprist, washen in Dewe;
Like Shene of Sterres, sperkled hire Eyen two.
Now came ther by that Way a hendy Knight
The Mayde espien in morwening Light.
A faire Person he was – of Corage trewe
With lusty Berd and Chekes of rody Hewe:
Dere Ladye (quod he) far and wide I’ve straied
Uncouthe Adventure in straunge Contrie made
Fro Berwicke unto Ware. Pardé I vowe
Erewhiles I never saw a purpil Cowe!
Fayne wold I knowe how Catel thus can be?
Tel me I pray you, of yore Courtesie!
The Mayde hire Milken stent – Goode Sir she saide
The Master’s Mandement on us ylaid
Decrees that in these yclept gilden Houres
Hys Kyne shall ete of nought but Vylet Floures!


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!


So ends the tome: are you, my friend,
as glad as I to see the end?
Have you donned motley for the money
and feared your jests were none too funny?
So ends the tome: so ends my folly;
'tis dismal work, this being jolly.
No more I'll play the Harlequin
unless more royalties come in.

Optional Encore:
13. The Proper Exit

The proper exit: how a jest
Politely speeds the parting guest.

The proper way to leave a room
Is not to plunge it into gloom;
Just make a joke before you go
And then escape before they know!