The Height of the Ridiculous
by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1899)
I wrote some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood,
And though, 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 print,” 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.
Presumably the source of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Funniest_Joke_in_the_World