Characteristics of the Limerick ☘💚☘💚
Limericks all follow the same structure and pattern which sets them apart from other poetic forms and makes them easily identifiable.
- A limerick consists of five lines in one stanza.
- The first, second and fifth lines end in rhyming words.
- The third and fourth lines have to rhyme.
- The rhythm of a limerick is anapestic, which means 2 unstressed syllables followed by a third stressed syllable.
- The first, second and fifth lines have 3 anapestic – da dum, da da dum, da da dum.
- The third and fourth lines have 2 anapestic – da dum, da da dum.
Though not the first to write or recite them, English poet, Edward Lear was famous for making them popular in the 19th Century. In 1846 he published a volume of his limericks entitled A Book of Nonsense. Here is an example of one of his limericks.
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared.”
Two Owls and a Hen;
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!Edward Lear
Then, of course, there is the ‘Nantucket’ limerick. According to Wikipedia, the limerick below was published in 1902 in the Princeton Tiger.
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.Prof. Dayton Voorhees
But he followed the pair to Pawtucket.
The man and the girl with the bucket,
And he said to the man,
he was welcome to Nan,
but as for the bucket, Pawtucket.Unspecified
I love the idea of places called Nantucket and Pawtucket.
Now we know how it works let’s have some tips on how to write our own limerick.
- Write a story – when you read a limerick it has a complete narrative arc complete with the main character, plot and resolution, even if it is only a micro-story.
- Start with a character – introduce your character and place them in a setting if using one. Try your home town and write down words that rhyme with it, remember you need three. Play about with it. Use a rhyming dictionary if you are stuck.
- Make it funny/silly. – Limericks are meant to be nonsensical although politically satirical is good too. Put your character into an absurd situation.
- End with a twist – this is like the punchline of a joke, so it needs to be good.
- Don’t stray from the structure – it is there for a good reason. Remember the AABBA rhymes and the anapestic rhythm pattern ( explained above).
- Read your limerick out loud – read it aloud while you write it, this will help you maintain the rhythm. When you have finished it, read it to people and see if you get a laugh.
I hope this page will encourage you to write your own Limericks. Meanwhile if you have any queries please email me at:
Mark your queries Limerick Queries in the subject line. Thank you. Carolyn ❤👩🦰🦊
With grateful thanks to: Wikipedia.com and masterclass.com for their knowledge and articles on writing Limericks.
Note: Edward Lear Limerick came from masterclass.com and the Nantucket and Pawtucket Limericks came from Wikipedia.com