Lessons 1-2 | Lesson 3
LESSON 3:  A limerick
Mark Rozzo in "The Height of Nonsense," a review of The Complete Verse and Other Nonsense by Edward Lear, edited by Vivien Noakes for publication this month (January 2003), reminds us that Lear perfected the limerick for an 1846 children's book.  The form had been around for several years before it first appeared in print in 1719.  It has variants with two, three, four, and five lines and can in fact in one variant be sung to the hymn "Blest Be the Tie That Binds."  Most of us when writing limericks choose the five-lined form with a,a,b,b,a rhymes and the fifth rhyme different from the first, but Lear's choice repeated the rhyme of the first line for the fifth line as in this one:

There was an Old Person of Hurst,
Who drank when he was not athirst;
When they said, "You'll grow fatter"
He answered, "What matter?"
That globular Person of Hurst.

Additional examples of Lear's limericks can be found at http://edwardlear.tripod.com/.

Lee Ann Russell's example of a limerick for her How to Write Poetry: Ballad to Villanelle (2nd ed. 1996, p. 75) is the traditional five-line form:

I once had a little gray cat
who pounced after 'skeeters and gnats,
and when he caught one,
he thought he was done
unaware they begat and begat.

Limericks   are   often   bawdy.   Ron  Padgett
(Handbook of Poetic Forms, p. 99) wrote a limerick about this problem when writing limericks

A 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.

ASSIGNMENT: Write a limerick, or better yet, write two for this page in future issues.  You may use the limerick form you choose.  

Lessons 1-2 | Lesson 3