What is a Limerick
Most of us know what a Limerick is, but for the uninitiated, here’s a quick explanation without getting too technical!
The standard form of a limerick is a stanza, or verse, of five lines, with the first, second and fifth usually having eight or nine syllables and rhyming with one another, and the third and fourth usually having five or six syllables, and rhyming separately.
The first line traditionally introduces a person and a place, with the place appearing at the end of the first line and establishing the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines. In early limericks, the last line was often essentially a repeat of the first line, although this is no longer customary.
- So, for example, we get....
- There was an old man from Darjeeling
Who boarded a bus bound for Ealing
He read on the door
"Please don’t spit on the floor"
So he stood up and spat on the ceiling
- There are, of course, good, clever examples of limericks that successfully subvert the genre. Such as...
- There was a young man from Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked why this was,
He replied "It's because
I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever possibly I can"
- And those that even challenge the idea that Limericks need to rhyme.....
- There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "No, it doesn't,
But I thought all the while 'twas a Hornet
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