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Thread: World's shortest poem (English)

  1. #1
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    World's shortest poem (English)

    There are conflicting reports of what the world's shortest poem is, with Guiness claiming that a four-legged "m" is the shortest, but since that isn't a letter, or even remotely pronounceable, I'm going to ignore it.

    Muhammad Ali came up with what I believe to be the shortest poem, with his magnificent:

    Me?
    Oui!

    when in France as a young man*.

    The oft-quoted:

    I?
    Why?

    doesn't do it for me. Written by the ever-famous Anon - god, I cannot believe that guy's bibliography, why is there not a forum dedicated to him at this site? - I'm not convinced it's fair.

    I think the problem cuts to the root of poetry in that a definition will be subjective.

    Please give me your thoughts.


    * I get a lot of laughs out of a NZ rugby coach who taught his players: Me? We! as a mantra, utterly missing and completely changing Ali's brilliance. Also, it's a letter shorter and could reasonably qualify under the same rule that Ali's does.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

    Anon

  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
    There are conflicting reports of what the world's shortest poem is, with Guiness claiming that a four-legged "m" is the shortest, but since that isn't a letter, or even remotely pronounceable, I'm going to ignore it.
    Yes! That bothers me also.



    For world's shortest poem, I would like to nominate this little beauty:

    For Sale.
    Baby Shoes.
    Never Worn.



    Suuure, Muhammed Ali may have the shortest poem ever semantically... but you still end up in a place where you have as your subject and object one of the greatest sports stars of all time. And that's no short story!

    This, on the other hand, is utterly nihilistic. There is an object without subject (the shoes)... a subject without it's object (the unborn baby)... and a subject soon to have no object (the seller). All three, whether in the past, present or future, cease to exist. So, in terms of length, it is shorter than any other poem which tries to achieve the effect - but more significantly, it is inherently short in meaning since nothing can be shorter than 'nothing'.

  3. #3
    rat in a strange garret Whifflingpin's Avatar
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    Fleas -

    Adam
    'ad 'em.
    Voices mysterious far and near,
    Sound of the wind and sound of the sea,
    Are calling and whispering in my ear,
    Whifflingpin! Why stayest thou here?

  4. #4
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by missylovalova View Post
    For world's shortest poem, I would like to nominate this little beauty:

    For Sale.
    Baby Shoes.
    Never Worn.
    This wasn't a poem, though, but a story. It's often attributed to Hemingway, but there's uncertainty about the actual origin.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Calidore View Post
    This wasn't a poem, though, but a story. It's often attributed to Hemingway, but there's uncertainty about the actual origin.
    Points for trying?

    'Adam had'em' doesn't beat Ali tho'.

  6. #6
    Inexplicably Undiscovered
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Atheist View Post
    There are conflicting reports of what the world's shortest poem is, with Guiness claiming that a four-legged "m" is the shortest, but since that isn't a letter, or even remotely pronounceable, I'm going to ignore it.

    Muhammad Ali came up with what I believe to be the shortest poem, with his magnificent:

    Me?
    Oui!

    when in France as a young man*.

    The oft-quoted:

    I?
    Why?

    doesn't do it for me. Written by the ever-famous Anon - god, I cannot believe that guy's bibliography, why is there not a forum dedicated to him at this site? - I'm not convinced it's fair.

    I think the problem cuts to the root of poetry in that a definition will be subjective.

    Please give me your thoughts.


    * I get a lot of laughs out of a NZ rugby coach who taught his players: Me? We! as a mantra, utterly missing and completely changing Ali's brilliance. Also, it's a letter shorter and could reasonably qualify under the same rule that Ali's does.
    I love Ali's poem, but I really abhor the cliché which coaches like to regurgitate: "There's no "i" in team!" If someone would ever throw that line at yours fooly, I'd purely relish the opportunity to reply "Yeah, but there's no 'u' in it either!"
    Last edited by AuntShecky; 03-28-2014 at 05:29 PM. Reason: single inverted commas inside quotes

  7. #7
    Orwellian The Atheist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AuntShecky View Post
    I love Ali's poem, but I really abhor the cliché which coaches like to regurgitate: "There's no "i" in team!" If someone would ever throw that line at yours fooly, I'd purely relish the opportunity to reply "Yeah, but there's no "u" in it either!"
    Ugh; couldn't agree more. I shudder at hearing it, and like you, luckily it's never been said to me.

    I know it's a favourite of corporate team-builders, which should be enough reason on its own to never use the phrase.
    Go to work, get married, have some kids, pay your taxes, pay your bills, watch your tv, follow fashion, act normal, obey the law and repeat after me: "I am free."

    Anon

  8. #8
    TobeFrank Paulclem's Avatar
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    In my Billy - Liar minds eye, a headbutt soon sorts the problem out. In reality a cringe and glance at my com-padres has to suffice.

    I watched a documentary on Ali recently - his fight with Norton. He was brilliant as a boxer and showman and poet.

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