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, composed by American poet Strickland Gillilan in the early 20th century.[1]

The poem reads in full:

Had 'em.

A contender with Fleas for the shortest poem in English was composed by boxer Muhammad Ali. On June 4, 1975, after giving a speech at Harvard University, Ali recited the "shortest poem ever written on what it's like to be as great as Ali": "Me? Whee!"[2][3]


  1. ^ Shapiro, Fred R. (2006). Yale Book of Quotations. Yale University Press. p. 310. ISBN 978-0-300-10798-2. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Doherty, Richard J. (9 June 1975). "Professor Muhammed Ali Delivers Lecture; Poems and Parables Fill Talk on Friendship". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 30 November 2011. 
  3. ^ Schulian, John (2011) [1998]. "Ali! Ali! Ali!". Sometimes They Even Shook Your Hand: Portraits of Champions Who Walked Among Us. University of Nebraska Press. p. 305. Retrieved 30 November 2015.