13 September 2004
It’s a classical poetry form, in which rhythm and rhyme must conform, but it gets no respect which you’d clearly expect until its indecent reform. The limerick’s past is unknown, but in this geographical zone it’s a popular style from the Emerald Isle which often results in a groan. They were written as nursery rhymes which parents would read at bedtime. The children delighted in limericks recited which they thought were completely sublime. There was an Old Man, Edward Lear, who popularized this form here. But he often combined the third and fourth lines and his subjects were hardly austere. The first two and fifth lines have three beats the third and fourth tend to retreat. They only have two yes indeed this line too and this last one the limerick completes. The rhythm is oft anapestic: (a dash that’s preceded by two ticks) a tick means it’s short and a dash—longer sort of notation for marking syllabics. The rhyme scheme is written out: aabba, with a rhythm that is sure to grab ya. I think that it rhymes with (from discotheque times) the Swedish pop singers named Abba. Oftentimes limericks will be ribald— about sex or something else quibbled but don’t turn right away from this casual play of some words on a bar napkin scribbled. The limerick gained favour in pubs and other less savoury hubs of working class leisure where facetiae’s treasured and not in some fancy-pants club. On this site you will find a few samples of limericks in quantity ample, but the ones here are clean, instead of obscene. Look below for a perfect example:
There once was a man from Nantucket who kept all his cash in a bucket. His daughter named Nan, ran away with a man, And as for the bucket, Nan took it.
Limerick authors are often anonymous. Attribution? Completely antonymous! Unnamed author above and that fits hand-in-glove with something that’s just as synonymous. There’s a thread on our poetry forum to discuss with the rest of the quorum the subject of limericks with just a few mouse clicks but please help maintain the decorum.