Wednesday, June 06, 2007

#17, Thursday Thirteen: Limericks

In school, I always loved writing poems in English. From haikus, free verse to limericks, I enjoyed the counting of syllables and the search for the perfect rhyme. Last year, I spent a lot of time in 9th grade Humanities ( the hoity, toity name for what we used to call English and History) and learned even more about iambic pentameter, tetrameter, and who knew that there were feet in poems? For Thursday Thirteen, here are 13 lessons/facts about limericks.

1. LIMERICK (noun) a humorous, frequently bawdy, verse of three long and two short lines rhyming aabba, popularized by Edward Lear who published a volume of limericks called: A Book of Nonsense in 1846.

2. The history of limericks: Variants of the form of poetry referred to as Limerick poems can be traced back to the fourteenth century English history. Limericks were used in Nursery Rhymes and other poems for children. But as limericks were short, relatively easy to compose and bawdy or sexual in nature they were often repeated by beggars or the working classes in the British pubs and taverns of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventh centuries. The poets who created these limericks were therefore often drunkards! Limericks were also referred to as dirty. ( )

3. How to write a limerick: it's a poem of five lines with lines 1, 2, 5 being longer lines than lines 3 and 4

4. The first line usually identifies a person or location.

5. Second line should expand upon the first line.

6. The third and fourth line should be about some action or problem for line 1.

7. And if you've forgotten what aabba stands for, it means that lines 1, 2 and 5 (the a's) all rhyme for each other which leaves 3 and 4 to rhyme with each other (the b's).

8. The first, second, and fifth lines have the same number of syllables usually 7 to 10 syllables. The third and fourth lines rhyme (forming a couplet), and have the same number of syllables, which are less than the first, second and fifth lines at 5-7 syllables.

9. Limericks often begin with: There once was. . . or There was a. . .

10. Here is a clean version of a famous limerick found at Wikipedia.
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket

11. Yes, even the Bard himself wrote some limericks and here is a sample from Othello, Act II, Scene III
And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier's a man;
A life's but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink.

12. A true limerick is supposed to have some sort of twist to it.

13. With the easy rhyming sequence, limericks are easy to create and are a great way to teach kids about rhyming and beats (syllables) in poetry.

Now that I have perhaps piqued your interest :

There once was a musing blog written by Jen
Who thought of contests that anyone could pen
From a story to haiku
What could a blogger do?
And a limerick contest was begun by Jen

Come on back to the blog on Friday for Contest details! Hint: Think about your blog and a limerick.

Thursday Thirteen Header found at Bluestar Chronicles

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!


  1. Neat list, friend!

  2. I always loved limericks in school. Of course, I've heard the other version of the Nantucket poem...

  3. Anonymous8:19 PM

    Yeah! I love limericks, and I love all kinds of poetry -- reading it and trying my hand at writing it, all kinds of different forms.

    Thanks for a fun TT, and thanks for visiting my blog!

  4. I'm with Christine. I was usually the one RECITING the other version of the Nantucket poem. LOL. Great TT. Have a great day! Thanks for stopping by my blog!

  5. ROFLMAO, I love it!

  6. Love a good limerick :)
    But, tucket, I can't write a good one to save myself.

  7. You are just too darn smart! I will be thinking and will be back on Friday! What a great idea! I was wondering what you were up to!

    Mine is up at Special K Family

  8. Cool! I think I'd forgotten most of this about limericks; I know I'd learned it.

    Thanks for a fun TT and if you ever feel like hopping on the Poetry Train, even though it's not mine, I'm pretty sure we'd love to have you along. Look for Rhian; you can't go wrong.

  9. Cute idea! I'm not much of a poet but if I can come up with anything I'll join in on Friday (it'll definitely be a *CLEAN* limerick though, LOL!)

  10. Speaking of limericks, have you seen oedilf?

    Happy TT.

  11. I hate people like you! Haha, just kidding!

  12. Super interesting post! Mine is up! Hope you have a great thursday!

  13. Anonymous9:54 PM

    what an awesome post!

  14. Ha ha, sounds like a fun contest!

  15. I always loved writing (and reading) poetry in school. Actually I still dabble in it occassionally - though not usually limericks. Maybe I'll have to give it a try. :-)

  16. This was really fun and very informative. :)

  17. Limericks are such fun. Thanks for all the great info.

    My TT is also up: 13 (unusual) phobias.

  18. Limericks are certainly fun to read, but to write one... Well, that's a different story!!

    Happy TT'ing!

  19. Very clever. Nice connection between the TT and your contest. I love reading limericks but I was never very good at writing poetry. The contest does sound like fun though.

    Happy TT!

  20. Limericks are one of my favorite things to write...I'm not kidding. I'll see something and the next thing I know, one has popped into my head.

    There once was a woman named Janet.
    Who had a cat made of granite.
    She'd stroke its cold fur
    In the hopes it would purr
    When it wouldn't she'd mumble "oh dammit!"

    Inspired by the fourth commenter Janet and her avatar.

    I can't wait until Friday. Thank you for all the interesting factoids about limericks. I had no idea.

  21. Oh god, I'm afraid limericks are way beyond my humble abilities, but I like to read them, so I'm looking forward to your contest. ;o)
    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  22. This is wonderful, Jen! I didn't know all these facts about limericks. You did a lot of work for this.

    Are you going to allow bawdy limericks in your contest? Think what I could do with my last name: Tucker!
    Don't worry...I won't.

    Great logo!

  23. Hmmmmmmm, I may have to enlist my daughters help, she's doing a ton of different poems in all forms for school and she's quite good. Maybe she'll tutor!

    Neat list!

  24. Aren't you clever!

  25. I love limericks and I'm also new to this site. Come by my site and visit.

  26. There once was a girl named Colleen who left comments but couldn't be seen....

    I read in the book "How the Irish Saved Civilization" that the while copying the classics for the monks the Irish folks wrote little ditties inside the margins of their work, some of which were very funny.

  27. I admire your ability to create within parameters. This Gal can't. It's hard to be funny when I'm fixating on the count. But even though I won't be entering, I will follow your contest with interest and hope that at least some of the entries are dirty. PS Thanks for your kind words on my TT!

  28. Thanks for the info:)

  29. all I got is there once was a guy from Nantucket...

  30. Oh no. Not limericks.

    *closes eyes and wards off desire to write naughty limericks instead of writing*

  31. Great information...and I look forward to your contest! :) Thx for your visit this week.

  32. Great TT! I'll be back to check out the contest!

  33. I learned something today... I never know limericks had a rhyme or reason to them.
    (Well ok, I knew a rhyme...)
    Mine are up!

  34. What a great TT! This is so cool. I happen to do quite well with limericks. I will definitely be back tomorrow to enter your contest!! What a fabulous idea! Love it!

    Happy TT
    Jessica The Rock Chick

  35. this sounds interesting. i should find time and try to do it. great idea for this week's T13 list.

  36. What great fun! I love limericks, but I am not so great at writing them. I will have to give it a try!

  37. I should have read this before I wrote my limerick, amazing how much I forgot. . . I'm saving this post for my next limerick attempt, though.


Any thoughts or musings of your own to add?