National Limerick Day
National Limerick Day celebrates Limericks. A limerick is a short, often humorous, and sometimes rude poem consisting of five lines. The first, second and fifth lines should rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines should rhyme with each other. The first line usually introduces a person and place, and the place name will be at the end of the line eg.
There was a Young Lady of Dorking,
Who bought a large bonnet for walking;
But its colour and size,
So bedazzled her eyes,
That she very soon went back to Dorking.
This establishes the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines. Due to their short and simple structure limericks are a popular form among amateur poets.
Although the word “limerick” is a reference to the Irish city and county, it may be derived from a form of nonsense verse parlour game which included the line “Will/won’t you come up to Limerick” and it is believed that limericks actually originated in England.
They were popularized by Edward Lear in his books A Book of Nonsense (1846) and More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc (1872). He wrote 212 limericks which would accompany an absurd illustration on the same subject. Amongst the most famous of these is the opening poem from A Book of Nonsense:
Feeling inspired? Why not try writing your own limerick, you might be interested in reading more about them. You can use LibrarySearch to access several e-books and articles. And if you are interested in poetry there are over 1,500 poetry books at Merchiston campus library and thousands more e-books available online. You can also read Edward Lear’s work online here.
By Vivienne Hamilton
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