Home #AtoZChallenge Limericks


by Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 43 comments
Limericks vidya sury

Can you believe we are at Day 12 of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge already? Today is L. Yes I know. You expected me to write about Love or Laughter, right?  Last year I did write about Love. Today, I figured we’d start the week with a good dose of laughter and I’ve got…

…L for Limerick

Of all the poetry forms, the limerick is one of my favorites. (Fine, laugh!). Limericks are usually funny and often irreverent, nonsensical and bawdy. My first introduction to limericks was via my Uncle, who could compose them on the go and kept us in splits!

Believed to have originated around 1700 and invented by soldiers returning from France to Limerick, Ireland, the limerick is a five-line poem with one couplet and one triplet. The first two lines have seven to ten syllables and rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm. The third and fourth lines, which are shorter and have five to seven syllables, rhyme together have the same rhythm. The fifth line has the same rhythm as the first line, and is sometimes the same as the first line, or rhymes with it. The limerick follows the AABBA rhyme scheme.

This limerick won an Irish ‘Listowel Writers Week’ prize in 1998 – and is a perfect example for the structure:

Writing a Limerick’s absurd,
Line one and line five rhyme in word,
And just as you’ve reckoned
They rhyme with the second;
The fourth line must rhyme with the third.

Oh, there’s plenty of word play, puns, idioms, onomatopoeia and more.

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were caught, so what could they do?
Said the fly, “Let us flee.”
“Let us fly,” said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Limericks became a popular form and one of the most well-known works is of Edward Lear – who preferred to call them “nonsense” rather than “limerick”. His self-illustrated Book of Nonsense was published in 1846.

limericks vidya sury

Another book “The Limerick” considered the largest and most scholarly anthology edited by G Legman, states that the true limerick as a folk form is always lewd. The book has over 1700 examples with notes and variants of the Limerick. I have the first edition of this book.

Limericks are also very popular in children’s verse. Think Mother Goose nursery rhymes – thought to be among the oldest published limericks. Most people will recognize this one, originally from 1744!

Hickory, Dickory Dock,
A Mouse ran up the Clock,
The Clock Struck One,
The Mouse fell down,
And Hickory Dickory Dock.

And of course this one:

Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey;
Along came a spider,
Who sat down beside her
And frightened Miss Muffet away.

Understanding the limerick’s rhyming scheme

The limerick follows the “AABBA” rhyming scheme. This is because the last words in lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme. Those are the “A’s” in the rhyme scheme. The “B’s” are the last words of lines 3 and 4. See this example:

There was a young fellow named Hall
Who fell in the spring in the fall.
‘Twould have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring,
But he didn’t—he died in the fall.

The words hall, fall and fall rhyme – these are the A words.
Thing and spring, which rhyme are the B words.

What about the rhythm?

A limerick’s rhythm is called “anapaestic”. When you recite the limerick, you’ll notice that the first two lines and the last line have three “beats”, while the third and fourth lines have two “beats”. Read the above limerick again to feel it!

And now, let’s enjoy some limericks!

A couple of classics:

There is a clever old miser who tries
every method to economize.
He said with a wink,
“I save gallons of ink
by simply not dotting my “i’s” !”

And this:

A rare old bird is the pelican.
His beak can hold more than his belly can.
He keeps in his beak
enough food for a week.
I am damned if I know how the hellican!

The following limerick is of unknown origin:

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical

Sury is very good at writing limericks and one of his specialties is creating one to go with all the articles he publishes! Here are two by him:

Under the banyan tree
sat the naked yogi.
People, keen to visit
asked; “true is it,
that is not he but she?!”

A soldier at the border
has quite a queer disorder.
Uses shaving cream and toothpaste
to shave and brush teeth in haste
but not necessarily in that order!

Do you enjoy limericks? Have you written any?

Which is your favorite? Please share in the comments!

Let’s visit these blogs today!

Sheethal of Rambled Scribblings

Gauri Kekre of Mind Brew

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Shailaja V April 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

I am reading just when the others are sound asleep and stuffing my mouth to stifle the chuckles 😀

Limericks are my favourite nonsense verses and you just started my week with a huge smile. Loved the ones by Sury. He should publish a book of those 😉
Shailaja V recently posted…Less is more

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 12:15 pm

😀 Sury has published several! And he usually has his audience in splits.

Thank you, Shailaja! I love the bad, bad ones!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Counting Calories

Proactive Indian April 14, 2014 at 5:18 am

Hahaha! What a wonderful way to start the week!!

I haven’t written any limericks, but I’ve always enjoyed them.

Happy (Tamil) New Year to you and your family!
Proactive Indian recently posted…Leadership

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 12:14 pm

Thank you Pro!
And thank you for the New Year wishes! Same to you!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Family

Pratibha April 14, 2014 at 7:53 am

You took me back to the school days! Loved reading the limericks, I should try writing one at least.
Pratibha recently posted…Things you need to give up to be happy {Life Mantras}

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 12:13 pm

You should, Pratibha! They are such fun!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Happiness. A Habit

Sreeja Praveen April 14, 2014 at 8:02 am

I guess beneath the shield of nonsense, they make the greatest sense 😀 Loved the whole collection 🙂 I love the sound of the name ‘ Limerick’ 😀 That’s so tangily sweet 🙂 MY first A to Z post for the day, and I’ve begun my day with a lime-licked smile…oops, limericked smile 🙂 Thanks, Vidya 🙂 Special appreciation to the two limericks at the bottom 🙂 Loved the soldier 🙂
Sreeja Praveen recently posted…A to Z Random Post # 12 L – the Lovers 🙂

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Sreeja, I love you. That is all! I especially appreciate your knack of pointing out the things that matter and referring to something you read earlier on my blogs. It means very much to me! You’re a star!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Grace

Ravi April 14, 2014 at 10:00 am

Whoever invented the Limericks need to be given a Nobel for literature.. I can only recall and smile at the innumerable limericks we exchanged at school and laughed our guts out, tho most of them were quite unprintable :-).. yes indeed, it is an art.. a very noble art 🙂

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 11:52 am

Ravi, I completely agree! My most favorite ones are quite unprintable! I have the whole set of Rugby jokes books, courtesy my Uncle. By the way – the book I mentioned – The Limerick – is full of unprintables too! 😀
Vidya Sury recently posted…Diary Writing

KP April 14, 2014 at 10:27 am

There is in Vidya a good teacher
But she practices and no mere preacher
Each day I learn a thing or two
Limerick came in passing too
Everyday her blog sports new feature
KP recently posted…The old man’s worry

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 11:54 am

Mr KP. I just stood up and applauded with reverence!
Love your comment! 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Family

Beloo Mehra April 14, 2014 at 10:38 am

This is just so great, Vidya! What a fun post on the New Year day! I am not the one to write verses, but I enjoy many kinds, and now including Limericks 🙂 The selection you share here is quite a nice one. And Sury’s are very good too…do share some more when you can. And you did very well by spreading some Limerick love and laughter!
Beloo Mehra recently posted…L is for Language

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 11:57 am

Beloo, 🙂 So sweet to read your comment!
By the way, I was going to post a Languages post today – Vidur (my son) was supposed to write it – but he had too much to do, so I told him to chill. 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Happiness. A Habit

Ida Chiavaro April 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

I devoured your post
Like a good sunday roast
It cleared my brain fog,
from reading too many blogs
Compliments to you, a fabulous host

There you inspired my first limerick 🙂
Reflex Reactions
Ida Chiavaro recently posted…26 Greatest loves of my life… Let’s call it a Love song. #atozchallenge

Kathy April 14, 2014 at 4:57 pm

I love reading limericks, but I can’t imagine writing them! Such a fun post Vidya! ♥
Kathy recently posted…L is for Lonely

Cathy Graham April 14, 2014 at 6:30 pm

Limericks are so much fun! Just loved your informative post about them, Vidya. I remember as a child having a favourite story book full of stories and rhymes. The section with Edward Lear’s limericks were wonderful.

Very enjoyable!

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nabanita April 14, 2014 at 6:32 pm

I have never tried Limericks..Maybe I should…And I hope this comment goes through! sigh!
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Corinne Rodrigues April 14, 2014 at 6:37 pm

Oh how I love limericks! They always bring a smile. Great teaching tool too for pronunciation practice.
This one was my favourite as a kid:
There was a young lady from Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They returned from the ride
With the lady inside,
And a smile on the face of the tiger.

Sury’s are great – as as his puns!
Corinne Rodrigues recently posted…Anything Goes On Sunday 6

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 7:20 pm

Ah, Corinne – that’s one of my favorites too! I almost added it, and thought I’d end up overloading the post!

Thanks! 😀
Vidya Sury recently posted…Inspired Every Day

Rajlakshmi April 14, 2014 at 6:48 pm

I love reading limericks… 🙂 they are so fun and interesting. Thanks got sharing some wonderful pieces
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Cher April 14, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Love this, Vidya! Limericks were always my favorite as a kid!
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Anyta April 14, 2014 at 7:01 pm

Great post Vidya! I had the good fortune to have lived in Limerick where humour is indeed part and parcel of daily life.

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm

Wow, Anyta! That is so exciting! 🙂 So is there a limerick you particularly like?
Vidya Sury recently posted…Kamala Sohonie

Anyta April 15, 2014 at 1:30 am

Thanks Vidya. A favorite limerick is by Dixon Merritt

A wonderful bird is the Pelican
His bill can hold more than a belican
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I see how he helican

debi o'neille April 14, 2014 at 7:50 pm

Great laughs and you taught me something too. Thanks.
debi o’neille recently posted…L IS FOR LIE

Debbie April 14, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Limericks are fun! 😀 The ones I remember aren’t really suitable for a G-rated audience however. 😉 Can’t believe we’re up to L already!
Debbie recently posted…#AtoZChallenge: “L” is for LONDON

Joy April 14, 2014 at 9:11 pm

How fun! I had forgotten about limericks until reading this post. I love Sury’s – how clever! And, I love the ones the readers have posted in the comments. Thank you for the heart-smile – what a wonderful way to open the week!

Birgit April 14, 2014 at 9:31 pm

Wonderful reading them. I like your first one and the pelican:)Thanks for putting a smile on my face:)
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Bob Sanchez April 14, 2014 at 10:12 pm

Hi Vidya, I do enjoy a good limerick. Here is my best effort:

This limerick’s off just a little.
Amiss by a jot or a tittle.
It hardly meets
The level of Keats,
But amuse you? I’m hoping that it’ll.

Oh, and your post made me smile. Thank you.
Bob Sanchez recently posted…L is for Little Bighorn

Vidya Sury April 14, 2014 at 10:18 pm

Bob, that’s so sweet!
Thank you so much for coming by!
Heading over to your place now!

Obsessivemom April 14, 2014 at 10:32 pm

This was hilarious.. The flee, fly flea.. My favourite. I live your choice of topic Vidya.
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Nats April 15, 2014 at 12:25 am

Even though I have known limericks all my life, I never really knew the basics. Thanks for such a lovely post.And I love your concept of collecting smiles 🙂
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Jessica April 15, 2014 at 3:41 am

How fun! I think the last I wrote a limerick was high school! Wow, it’s been years!
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Ananya Kiran April 15, 2014 at 9:47 am

Happy new year ! I liked this collection 🙂 wish I could write like this 🙁
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The Sunday Visitor April 15, 2014 at 11:35 am

Interesting word for L Vidya!
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Aditi April 15, 2014 at 11:43 am

Hehe 🙂 Vidya this has to be my fav L post! I used to be so fond of Limericks as a kid, wrote few too!! Loved the last one a lot! 😀
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Inderpreet Kaur April 15, 2014 at 11:59 am

Limericks sure are a great pun and loads of fun, can’t remember any favorite but i do like them. I did not know that nursery rhymes were limericks too.
Great read.
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Damyanti April 15, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Aw. Love those limericks by Sury. I love the fun topics you pick for the challenge, Vidya!

Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

Twitter: @AprilA2Z
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G Angela April 15, 2014 at 3:26 pm

had fun reading this ! remembered my school days !
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Jemima Pett April 16, 2014 at 1:02 am

I was trying to remember a nice one for you, but my mind isnt working tonight – it’s on strike!

Fellow #TeamDamyanti
Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April
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carol graham April 18, 2014 at 4:22 am

Love to laugh and love poetry but never really appreciated limericks but you make some valid points. Maybe it is time to look a little closer – thank you

Carol @ Battered Hope
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Michelle Wallace April 21, 2014 at 3:16 pm

The limericks are great fun!
I’m thinking that this is a great way to get youngsters interested in poetry, especially the ones who have a natural aversion to poetry. They often view poetry as something “stuffy”. Teach them the limerick structure, and then let them write their own limericks. That should get them hooked on poetry. Don’t you think? (Well, hopefully…)
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