Pearson’s Magazine (UK), September 1906

The Very First.


I like to think that once on a time
 In the far-off days of yore,
When no one said at the end of a tale
 That he’d heard the thing before;
In the days when man had a simple mind
 And Humour had scarce begun,
Somebody took his life in his hands
 And shot off the Primal Pun—
The very first, and perhaps the worst,
 The original Primal Pun.

Those were the days when the humorist
 Was a practical sort of man;
He didn’t rely on verbal points,
 But worked on a different plan.
A sudden smack from behind with a club
 Was what he considered fun,
Till one fine morning a genius came
 And worked off the Primal Pun.

How it must have gone in these dim, dead days!
 What a stir it must have made!
How they must have roared till they strained their ribs
 And their friends applied first aid!
Jests there have been by the score since then,
 But that was the earliest one,
When that light-hearted caveman gave a wink
 And uttered the Primal Pun.

I often wonder when lights are low
 And my final pipe I smoke,
What was it—that pioneer of mirth,
 That earliest verbal joke.
But ever in vain do I rack my brain;
 There is none to tell me, none,
What were the words of the first buffoon
 Who shot out the Primal Pun.

Yet often again, when I’m dining out,
 And o’er my coffee I sit,
And my host is painfully trying to air
 A rudimentary wit,
As he slowly works through his laboured jest
 With a dulness that seems to stun,
I say to myself, “It is! It is!
 This must be that Primal Pun!
The very first, and certainly worst,
 The original Primal Pun!”

P. G. W.