“I wrote some lines, once on a time, in wondrous merry mood…”
So begins one of my favorite poems. I learned “The Height of the Ridiculous” as a child, and I’ve always loved it. It was written by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The poem tells the story of a poet who “wrote some lines” which he thought “were exceeding good.” He then called his servant and asked him to deliver the pages to the printer. In a humorous mood, he jests that “There’ll be the devil to pay.”
The servant begins to read. He grins. He chuckles. The buttons pop off his waistcoat, and for “ten days and nights”, the poor fellow writhes in laughter. Funny stuff, indeed. As a child, though, I was disappointed in never knowing what those humorous lines were. The poem concludes with the assurance that “…since, I never dare to write as funny as I can.”
Now, what does this have to do with art? Good question. The answer is that sometimes my drawings are rather funny, although it’s not really by intention. I don’t try to “draw as funny as I can”, even if I’m in a “wondrous merry mood.” Over the summer, though, I have had fun with art, and there have been moments when I’ve felt that I had arrived at “the height of the ridiculous”.
One such moment was when I drew this:
I’ll venture to guess that you have no idea what this is, and that’s all right. I’ll simply say that it was a fun drawing subject, albeit a rather challenging one. It was not a challenge I took too seriously. All the while I was thinking to myself that this was, indeed, the height of the ridiculous when it came to art.
Later, still in a “merry mood”, I couldn’t resist using the drawing as inspiration for a bit of poetry of my own. The tale I tell here is not true. I did not show my husband this drawing. I will say, though, that I had fun being ridiculous both in the drawing and in my “parody” of a favorite poem. It’s not a great literary work, but it does reveal what this drawing is. If nothing else, I hope it brings a smile to your face, a bit of laughter, or maybe both!
The Height of Ridiculous Art
I drew some lines once on a time
In wondrous merry mood
And knew, as usual, folks would say
They simply were no good.
They were so queer, so very queer
All I could do was sigh
And promptly close the book on them
Lest they be seen by human eye.
My husband called me and came in
How kind it is of him
To always praise my woeful art
And things drawn on a whim.
“What are you drawing?” he inquired
And in my blushing way,
I clutched the sketchbook to my chest
And I refused to say.
“Just let me see,” he begged, so then
I handed him the book.
And watched in horror as I saw
His face’s stricken look.
He stared a little longer still
His eyes popped from his head.
“I’m sorry, dear, I truly am,
But I haven’t got a clue,” he said.
I told him what it was I’d drawn
And, yes, of course, he laughed.
“But why would you draw that?” he asked
For surely I’d gone daft.
Ten days and night have now gone by
But still he’s teasing me.
So never will I ever again
Draw a load of clean laundry!