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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes. 1906.

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;

At 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.