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13 Hilarious Lines From History’s Funniest Poets

Over the thousands of years it’s been around, poetry has acquired a rather unfortunate reputation as something stuffy and inaccessible, which is simply not the case. Poetry is meant to lend a voice to the deepest, most indefinable feelings of the human soul. It’s meant to be an act of self-expression, catharsis, and connection that expresses the inexpressible — and sometimes, it’s meant to make us laugh.

Humor is an essential part of the human experience, so it makes sense that some poets would gravitate toward incorporating it into their work. And among those, certain poets have emerged as particularly clever and hilarious.

Writing poetry is hard enough, as anyone who’s ever attempted to do so can tell you. It takes a skillful mind to imbue poetry with comedy, another form of artistic expression that’s notoriously difficult to master.

That doesn’t necessarily mean every funny poem contains only the most complex, high-brow forms of humor; as you’ll see below, many poets choose silliness and absurdity over wit. But then again, one could argue that silliness is its own art form.

For your entertainment, we’ve gathered 13 lines of poetry from some of the funniest poets to have ever composed a verse.

The people upstairs all practice ballet / Their living room is a bowling alley / … / And when their fun at last abates, / They go to the bathroom on roller skates. / I might love the people upstairs more / If only they lived on another floor.
Ogden Nash, “The People Upstairs”

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It was January the 1st / I turned over a new leaf. / It was clean on the top side / But had bugs underneath.
Steve Turner, “New Year Resolution”

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Don’t hide your face with too much gunk, / Especially if it’s old and lined. / Don’t answer e-mails when you’re drunk. / Don’t live with thirty years of junk — / Those precious things you’ll never find. / Stop, if the car is going “clunk.”
Wendy Cope, “Some Rules”

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I have outlived / my youthfulness / so a quiet life for me / where once / I used to / scintillate / now I sin / till ten / past three.
Roger McGough, “Scintillate”

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I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor, / And I don't like it — one bit. / Well, what do you know? / It's nibblin' my toe. / Oh, gee, / It's up to my knee. / Oh my, / It's up to my thigh. / Oh, fiddle, / It's up to my middle. / Oh, heck, / It's up to my neck. / Oh, dread, / It's upmmmmmmmmmmffffffffff…
Shel Silverstein, “Boa Constrictor”

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Reflected a top mountaineer: / “I’ve had a successful career. / Alas, as I plummet / From off this high summit, / I guess it’s all downhill from here.”
Graham Denton, “A Bit of a Low Point”

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A single flow’r he sent me, since we met. / All tenderly his messenger he chose; / Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet – / One perfect rose. / … / Why is it no one ever sent me yet / One perfect limousine, do you suppose?
Dorothy Parker, “One Perfect Rose”

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You took / the last bus home / don’t know how / you got it through the door / you’re always doing amazing stuff / like the time / you caught that train.
Brian Bilston, “You Took the Last Bus Home”

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Two houses up for sale. / One stick, one straw. / Both self-assembly. / See pig next door.
Rachel Rooney, “Property for Sale”

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I have been thinking about the love-hat relationship. / It is the relationship based on love of one another’s hats. / … / It is too dependent on whether the other person / is even wearing the favored hat. We all enjoy hats, / but they’re not something to build an entire relationship on.
Aaron Belz, “The Love-Hat Relationship”

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Noah let his sons go fishing, / Only on the strictest terms: / “Sit still; keep quiet and concentrate: / We’ve only got two worms!”
Celia Warren, “Ark Anglers”

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My / great great great great / great great great great / great great great great / great great great great / great great great great / great great great great / great great great great / grandad is very old.
Ian McMillan, “An Interesting Fact About One of My Relatives”

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Oh, I am the best bargee bar none, / You are the best bargee bar one! / You are the second-best bargee, / You are the best bargee bar me! / Oh, I am the best … / (and so on, until he is hurled into the canal).
Kit Wright, “Song Sung by a Man on a Barge to Another Man on a Different Barge in Order to Drive Him Mad”

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Featured image credit: Simone Padovani/Awakening/ Getty Images Entertainment

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About the Author
Brooke Robinson
Inspiring Quotes editor, bibliophile, cinephile, and curry enthusiast based in Cleveland, Ohio.
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