LimericksI never considered myself to be much of a fan of the limerick poetic form. Most limericks I had read were nonsensical at best, contrived at worst, and filled with references to people from Nantucket.
Paul Henry, in his paper, A Call For The Complete Elimination Of Joke Haiku Production On The Internet recommends using limerick poetry for internet jokes (instead of bad senryu) for the following reasons
Although these are valid points, the first two underscore the primary
reasons I'm not over-fond of limericks. I think they tend to be overly
silly (and the writers of limericks tend to let the form degenerate).
After a while, I've found that most limericks begin to sound the same.
A limerick is a short, often humorous and ribald poem developed to a very specific structure.
Edward Lear popularized this form in his nonsense verse. Unfortunately, Lear's limericks really do begin to sound the same after a while. In addition, while he popularized the form, he popularized a degenerative form. Lear's more than 200 limericks were "aimed more at nonsense than toward a punch line or twist in the final line". Many are also not "true" limericks, as the last line is, often, simply a variant on the first.
There was an Old Man with a beard,This has led some people to retroactively rename Lear's work as Learics. It has also lead at least one wit to compose a parody
There was an old man with a beard
Fortunately, limericks do not have to be silly, nonsensical, or repetitive.
I favor the limerick form,
The limerick is ... constructed of five lines with an anapestic beat (see below) and an AABBA rhyme scheme.
From the hag and hungry goblin
Most people will recognize this one, originally from 1744!
Hickory, Dickory Dock,
This one is from Gilbert and Sullivan (1877)
My name is John Wellington Wells.The following is a "typical" modern limerick
The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Many writers delight in playing with the limerick form. For example, the end words are often chosen (or spelled) such that they make a visual rhyme as well as one of sound, (often the spelling or pronunciation of one or more words is bizarre). In the following, the reader needs to be aware that Salisbury is known to locals as Sarum, Hampshire as Hants, and so forth.
There was a young curate of Salisbury
There is a sub-genre, sometimes called anti-limericks, of poems that intentionally subvert the structure of the limerick form. This is my favorite:
A decrepit old gas man named Peter,
Many writers also delight in writing "meta" limericks, that is, limericks about limericks!
Well, it's partly the shape of the thing
Copyright 2004, Vicki Brown, email@example.com.