The Burgess Nonsense Book (1901)
Frank Gelett Burgess
An Alphabet of Famous Goops
Which you 'll Regard with Yells and Whoops.
For you Yourselves are Doubtless Dupes
Of Failings Such as Mar these Groups --
We all are Human!
ABEDNEGO was Meek and Mild; he Softly Spoke, he Sweetly Smiled.
He never Called his Playmates Names, and he was Good in Running Games;
But he was Often in Disgrace because he had a Dirty Face!
BOHUNKUS would Take Off his Hat, and Bow and Smile, and Things like That.
His Face and Hair were Always Neat, and when he Played he did not Cheat;
But Oh! what Awful Words he Said, when it was Time to Go to Bed!
The Gentle CEPHAS tried his Best to Please his Friends with Merry Jest;
He tried to Help Them, when he Could, for CEPHAS, he was Very Good;
And Yet -- They Say he Used to Cry, and Once or Twice he Told a Lie!
DANIEL and DAGO were a Pair who Acted Kindly Everywhere;
They studied Hard, as Good as Gold, they Always did as They were Told;
They Never Put on Silly Airs, but They Took Things that were Not Theirs.
EZEKIEL, so his Parents said, just Simply Loved to Go to Bed;
He was as Quiet as could Be whenever there were Folks to Tea;
And yet, he had a Little Way of Grumbling, when he should Obey.
When FESTUS was but Four Years Old his Parents Seldom had to Scold;
They never Called him "FESTUS DON'T!" he Never Whined and said "I Won't!"
Yet it was Sad to See him Dine. His Table Manners were Not Fine.
GAMALIEL took Peculiar Pride in Making Others Satisfied.
One Time I asked him for his Head. "Why, Certainly! GAMALIEL Said.
He was Too Generous, in Fact. But Bravery he Wholly Lacked.
HAZAEL was (at Least he Said he Was) Exceedingly Well Bred;
Forbidden Sweets he would not Touch, though he might Want them very Much.
But Oh, Imagination Fails to quite Describe his Finger Nails!
How Interesting ISAAC Seemed! He never Fibbed, he Seldom Screamed;
His Company was Quite a Treat to all the Children on the Street;
But Nurse has Told me of his Wrath when he was Made to Take a Bath!
Oh, Think of JONAH when you're Bad; Think what a Happy Way he had
Of Saying "Thank You! -- "If you Please" -- "Excuse Me, Sir," and Words like These.
Still, he was Human, like Us All. His Muddy Footprints Tracked the Hall.
Just fancy KADESH for a Name! Yet he was Clever All the Same;
He knew Arithmetic, at Four, as Well as Boys of Nine or More!
But I Prefer far Duller Boys, who do Not Make such Awful Noise!
Oh, Laugh at LABAN, if you Will, but he was Brave when he was Ill.
When he was Ill, he was so Brave he Swallowed All his Mother Gave!
But Somehow, She could never Tell why he was Worse when he was Well!
If MICAH's Mother Told him "No" he Made but Little of his Woe;
He Always Answered, "Yes, I'll Try!" for MICAH Thought it Wrong to Cry.
Yet he was Always Asking Questions and Making quite Ill-timed Suggestions.
I Fancy NICODEMUS Knew as Much as I, or even You;
He was Too Careful, I am Sure, to Scratch or Soil the Furniture;
He never Squirmed, he never Squalled; he Never Came when he was Called!
Some think that OBADIAH's Charm was that he Never Tried to Harm
Dumb Animals in any Way, though Some are Cruel when they Play.
But though he was so Sweet and Kind, his Mother found him Slow to Mind.
When PELEG had a Penny Earned, to Share it with his Friends he Yearned.
And if he Bought a Juicy Fig, his Sister's Half was Very Big!
Had he not Hated to Forgive, he would have been Too Good to Live!
When QUARTO's brother QUARTO Hit, was QUARTO Angry? Not a Bit!
He Called the Blow a Little Joke, and so Affectionately Spoke,
That Everybody Loved the Lad. Yet Oh, What Selfish Ways he had!
Was REUBEN Happy? I should Say! He laughed and Sang the Livelong Day.
He Made his Mother Smile with Joy to See her Sunny-Tempered Boy.
However, she was Not so Gay when REUB Refused to Stop his Play!
When SHADRACH Cared to be Polite, they Called him Gentlemanly, Quite;
His Manners were Correct and Nice; he Never Asked for Jelly Twice!
Still, when he Tried to Misbehave, O, how Much Trouble SHADRACH Gave!
Don't Think that TIMOTHY was Ill because he Sometimes Kept so Still.
He knew his Mother Did Not Care to Hear him Talking Everywhere.
He did not Tease, he did Not Cry, but he was Always Asking "WHY?"
URIAH Never Licked his Knife, nor Sucked his Fingers, in his Life.
He Never Reached, to Help Himself, the Sugar Bowl upon the Shelf.
He Never Popped his Cherry Pits; but he had Horrid Sulky Fits!
To See young VIVIUS at his Work, you Knew he 'd Never Try to Shirk.
The Most Unpleasant Things he'd Do, if but his Mother Asked him To.
But when young Vivius Grew Big, it Seems he was a Norful Prig!
Why WABAN always Seemed so Sweet, was that he Kept so Clean and Neat.
He never Smooched his Face with Coal, his Picture Books were Fresh and Whole.
He washed His Hands Ten Times a Day; but, Oh, what Horrid Words he 'd Say!
What shall I say of XENOGOR, Save that he Always Shut the Door!
He always Put his Toys Away when he had Finished with his Play.
But here his List of Virtues Ends. A Tattle-Tale does not Make Friends.
YERO was Noted for the Way with which he Helped his Comrades Play;
He 'd Lend his Cart, he 'd Lend his Ball, his Marbles, and his Tops and All!
And Yet (I Doubt if you' ll Believe), he Wiped his Nose upon his Sleeve!
The Zealous ZIBEON was Such as Casual Callers Flatter Much.
His Maiden Aunts would Say, with Glee, "How Good, how Pure, how Dear is He!"
And Yet, he Drove his Mother Crazy --he was so Slow, he was so Lazy!
The name of the original text first appeared in
The Burgess Nonsense Book Being a Complete Collection of the Humorous Masterpieces of Gelett Burgess, Esq.
(New York: Frederick A. Stokes, 1901).
The first publication date is unknown.
Selected poems are out of copyright and are in public domain.
Public domain text taken from Representative Poetry Online: