Last time I featured the rather sombre poetic form of the Elegy for the Experiments in Fiction Poetry Challenge. Though there is a time to mourn, there is also of course a time to laugh. Life is without balance if we don’t find joy in it as well as sorrow. So for today’s challenge, we are lightening the mood a little and taking a look at the limerick, with the help of Poet Don of The Flippant, Comic and Serious.
The limerick as a poetic form
The limerick emerged as a poetic form in English early in the 18th Century, and it was popularised in the 19th Century by Edward Lear, who wrote many limericks, though he didn’t use the term himself.
No one is quite sure how the limerick got its name, though it is thought to be linked to the Irish city of the same name. The Wikipedia article on the limerick suggests that the form ‘may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that included “Will [or won’t] you come (up) to Limerick?”‘
The traditional limerick follows a strict metre and rhyming scheme:
‘The standard form of a limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables. The third and fourth lines are usually anapaestic. The first, second and fifth are usually either anapaests or amphibrachs.’ (source: Wikipedia)
Limericks are humorous in nature, and are often vulgar or downright obscene, though it is perfectly possible to be funny without the obscenity and/or vulgarity.
As Don Matthews‘ rhymes often raise a smile, I asked him if he would judge this week’s competition and he kindly agreed. Here are a few words from our judge, in the form of a limerick:
There once was a poet called Don
Who didn’t like being anon
So he poetized whacky
(But mind you not tacky)
Till anonymity was finally gone.
In keeping with his love of the unconventional, I came up with this:
I once tried to conform and be smart
As I thought it might better my art
But I’ve since then decided
-though I may be derided
For convention I care not a fart!
The limerick quickly became popular on both sides of the Atlantic. U.S. versions of the limerick often feature the name of this small island off the coast of Massachusetts, perhaps due to its tendency to rhyme with other words which could be considered vulgar. Feel free to have a go at one yourself. Here’s mine:
There once was a man from Nantucket
Who stood with his feet in a bucket
When the concrete was set
Though she got her feet wet
His dear wife in the river did chuck it.
Write a limerick, on any subject, with the intention of making the reader smile. You can be as vulgar as you like, though as this is a family blog I may not be able to reproduce the most obscene responses. I’m not into censorship but I have zero tolerance for racism, sexism, homophobia, etc.
Ways to enter:
- Post your limerick in the comment section below.
- Write your own post featuring your limerick, and link back to this post.
- Tweet your limerick tagging @Experimentsinfc.
- Post your limerick on Instagram tagging @experimentsinfiction.
- Deadline for entries is midnight CET on Monday 21/09/20.
Winning entries will be announced next Tuesday, and the overall winner will be offered the opportunity to judge the next EIF Poetry Challenge:
Don and Ingrid have laid down the gauntlet
But there’s no reason you should be daunted
Take your wittiest rhyme
And submit it in time
If you’ve got it, you really should flaunt it!
(Sorry, I’ll stop now…)