There's a line by Gonff in Mossflower that's clearly supposed to be a joke, but I just... don't get it.

Gonff was conscious of Columbine watching him. Bella had given the little mousethief permission to sing grace, and he stood up boldly and sang aloud,

Squirrels, otters, hedgehogs, mice,
Moles with fur like sable,
Gathered in good spirits all,
Round this festive table.
Sit we down to eat and drink.
Friends, before we do, let's think.
Fruit of forest, field and banks,
To the springtime we give thanks.

The woodlanders began passing food. As Gonff sat down, he winked at Columbine, showing no sign of modesty.
"Good, eh? That's an ancient chant that has been sung through the ages. I composed it a moment ago for today."
Gonff was so pleased with himself that Columbine could not help laughing with him at his outrageous statement.
Chapter 15

Of the two contradictory statements, "I composed it a moment ago for today" is probably the true one, as Gonff makes up a lot of other songs. However I don't see how including "That's an ancient chant that has been sung through the ages" makes a joke? It's obviously wrong, but somehow clever and hilarious, if I understand the Columbine's reaction correctly.

How does this joke (?) of Gonff's work?

I ask with full understanding that explaining jokes usually "ruins" them, but as I'm already confused it can't hurt more.


I think it's just that the contradiction is a joke. The "outrageous statement" is the whole thing - "This is an ancient chant, honestly, even though I've just made it up".

Along the lines of:

One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead men got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.