Most people have heard a limerick or know one or two off pat, whether smutty or otherwise. I believe the limerick as a poetic form is much maligned. Misinformed, some think it’s easy to write a limerick. I say misinformed, as there are numerous examples of very badly written limericks in existence, which prove it’s not as easy as some believe and do nothing for the limerick’s reputation.
For what it’s worth, I think that the humble limerick is a prince amongst poetic forms. Why – because it has symmetry, rhythm, style, punch, wit and humour – all crammed into 5 scant lines. They may not be that easy to write well, but they’re very easy to remember, so what’s not to like…
So, how do you write a good, or at least half-decent limerick, I hear you ask (must remember to take my tablets to combat the auditory hallucinations)?
Well the basic format is: 5 lines, rhyme scheme AABBA, then there’s that very distinctive, strangely comforting and satisfying rhythm –da DUM da da DUM da da DUM, da DUM da da DUM da da DUM, da DUM da da DUM, da DUM da da DUM, da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
If you stick as closely as you can to those basics, you can’t go far wrong.
A large proportion of the limericks in print have been penned anonymously. One of the best examples I know, that’s also coincidentally describes the form very well, is this: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.
I find writing limericks rewarding and I often dabble with them for pure enjoyment. So, without further ado, here’s one I prepared earlier:Weekend Away A young gentlemen named Grant Cragnell Sought debauchery in Newport Pagnell He got terribly drunk Before sharing his bunk With a midget and a brown cocker spaniel
NB – the character in this limerick is an invented work of fiction. Therefore, any similarity to anyone living or dead is purely coincidental (that should keep my lawyer happy).
I couldn’t possibly write a blog post about the limerick without giving a shout out to OEDILF – The Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. A most excellent project who’s aim is to create an online dictionary made entirely of limericks. Last time I checked they were estimating completion in about 30 to 40 years time. I for one hope they succeed.
Oh, whilst I remember – Happy St Patricks Day to you all! And if it’s no longer St Patricks Day when you read this post – then this video is just for you.