Nonfiction > Lionel Strachey, et al., eds. > The World’s Wit and Humor > American
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The World’s Wit and Humor: An Encyclopedia in 15 Volumes.  1906.
Vols. I–V: American
 
The Height of the Ridiculous
By Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–1894)
 
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,        5
  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,        10
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),        15
  “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.        20
 
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;        25
  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,        30
And since, I never dare to write
  As funny as I can.
 
 
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