Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes

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Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes, also known simply as Fleas, is a couplet commonly cited as the shortest poem ever written. Variously attributed to Shel Silverstein, Ogden Nash, or simply an unknown or anonymous author, it was most likely written by American poet Strickland Gillilan in the early 20th century.[1]

In fact, it may not be the shortest poem in English. On June 4, 1975, after giving a speech at Harvard University, boxer Muhammad Ali was asked to recite a poem. He replied with words that have been written as either, "Me. We." or "Me, whee!"[2]

The poem[edit]

Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes

Had 'em.


  1. ^ Shapiro, Fred R. (2006). Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-300-10798-2. 
  2. ^