Limerick and Limericks

How to Write Limericks

A Limerick is a simple and short poem consisting of five anapaestic lines.

1. Begin by thinking of some funny place names, names, or situations.

2. Make a note of several options for funny place names, peoples names or situations.

3. Read through our selection of Limericks for inspiration, we have covered a variety of subjects. We have included Limericks about Love, Kids, Valentines, Animals, Rude and many more........

4. Write your five line Limerick remembering the 'a a b b a' rule. (The lines in a limerick should have a strict (aabba) rhyme.)5. The final line of a limerick should be the 'Punch Line'

6. Test how your Limerick sounds by practicing the rhythm by snapping your fingers or by clapping you hands.


The following limerick is an example written by Edward Lear who popularized limericks in the 19th century, although he did not use the word 'Limerick'.

In his 1872 book, he called his poems "nonsense rhymes" and "nonsense pictures and rhymes" but these rhymes are today referred to as Limericks. The pictures or illustrations in Lear's books were just as important as the rhymes. 

There was a Young Lady of Clare,
Who was sadly pursued by a bear;
When she found she was tired,
She abruptly expired,
That unfortunate Lady of Clare.


How To Write Limericks - Edward Lear

Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense included the poetry form of Limericks. His work with limericks weren't in any way indecent and his books proved to be extremely popular in the nineteenth century and this was contributed to by the humorous magazine Punch which started printing examples of limericks leading to a craze by its readers.

The first edition of Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense was published by Thomas McLean on 10th February 1846. There were altogether seventy-two limericks in two volumes which sold at 3s 6d each. These limericks have proven to be extremely popular with children.


How To Write Limericks - Origins
The word 'Limerick' is thought to have come from the Irish town of Limerick. The word is thought to originate from the pub song or tavern chorus based on the refrain "Will you come up to Limerick?" where, of course, such bawdy songs or 'Limericks' were sung. Limericks were used in Nursery Rhymes and other poems for children. For example:

Hickory dickory dock
The mouse ran up the clock
The clock struck one
The mouse ran down
Hickory dickory dock

How To Write Limericks - The Number of Lines
Today's limericks are short poetry compositions that consist of five lines. They can however be arranged on the page as three or four lines but the lines must conform to the 'aabba' rhyme in order for them to be classed as a limerick instead of a poem.

As in other types of humorous poetry, the 'a' rhymes are required to have three beats, the 'b' rhymes two beats, and the rhythm is predominantly anapestic.  Anapestic is a metrical foot used in formal poetry - made up of two short syllables that are followed by a long syllable. The word 'Anapestic' comes from the Greek 'to strike'.

How To Write Limericks
Limericks are short and relatively easy to write. They were often composed by the working classes and often sexual or obscene in nature. The writers were often drunks who composed these rhymes in British pubs and taverns of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.


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