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T IS believed that this is the first time a collection
of verse devoted to Laughter has been brought to
gether, and the poems which follow will show, better than any description of them, what an interesting and delectable field it is to glean in. Yet Laughter is another of the few topics which have appealed little to the singers of this or any other day. It seems as if there were a distrust of the physical act that struck them dumb before it. It cannot be from lack of the humorous sense; for no person without it can write poetry at all, since precisely the sense of proportion is needed for expression in rhyme and rhythm which the sense of humor ensures.
Nor is it in any sense true that poetry is lacking in the element of mirth and merriment. On the contrary, much of the finest verse is alive with the spirit of joy, and no small share of our singing is devoted to jollity and conviviality. It is merely that Laughter and Laughing, the crown and pinnacle of human mirthfulness, have not been seized upon by the poet as suited to his calmer and more remote form of artistic expression. Laughing songs there are, in all languages, but not laughing poems; and it may be shrewdly suspected in these modern days that the poets themselves have been laughed at too much and too often for them to regard Laughter with friendly eyes.
Yet, as Mr. Blunt proves in the concluding poem of this book, it is possible to treat Laughter seriously and with dignity. Not one living being on this earth laughs as an expression of mirth except mortal man; and if he does not commemorate the fact, surely no one else can. An animal, the hyena, makes a noise that