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.
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” !”
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