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From The World’s Wit and Humor, Volume I, American; The Review of Reviews Company; New York; 1906; pp. 245-246.


American Wit and Humor

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

The Height of the Ridiculous

I wrote some lines once on a time,
     In wondrous merry mood,
And thought, as usual, men would say
     They were exceeding good.

They were so queer, so very queer,
     I laughed as I would die;
Albeit, in the general way,
     A sober man am I.

I called my servant, and he came;
     How kind it was of him,
To mind a slender man like me,
     He of the mighty limb!

“These to the printer,” I exclaimed,
     And, in my humorous way,
I added (as a trifling jest),
     “There’ll be the devil to pay.”

He took the paper, and I watched,
     And saw him peep within;
As the first line he read, his face
     Was all upon the grin.

He read the next: the grin grew broad,
     And shot from ear to ear;
He read the third: a chuckling noise
     I now began to hear.

The fourth: he broke into a roar;
     The fifth: his waistband split;
The sixth: he burst five buttons off,
     And tumbled in a fit.

Ten days and nights, with sleepless eye,
     I watched that wretched man,
And since, I never dare to write
     As funny as I can.


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