Frank Gelett Burgess (1866-1951) was an American humorist and illustrator who started out as an engineer and instructor at Berkeley. In addition to founding Lark, he produced many books of humorous verse and illustrations, including Goops and How to be Them (1900), The Burgess Nonsense Book (1901), The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne (1904), Are You a Bromide? (1906), Why Men Hate Women (1927), and Look Eleven Years Younger (1937). His best known works were about what he called Goops, moralistic tales of bad-mannered children. He also added several words to the English language, including blurb.

But he is best known for four lines of nonsense verse, repeated by millions of people who will never know Burgess’ name:

The Purple Cow’s Projected Feast: Reflections on a Mythic Beast, Who’s Quite Remarkable, At Least.

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!

And this is Burgess’ response to the fame of his poem:

Confession: and a Portrait, Too, Upon a Background that I Rue!

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!