What Is Limerick In Poetry? 10 Examples & Writing Tips

Last Updated on July 20, 2022 by Dr Sharon Baisil MD

A limerick is a five-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme: AABBA. The first, second, and fifth lines rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. Typically, limericks are humorous or nonsensical. Here are 10 examples of limerick poems to get you started.

Top 10 Must-Read Examples of Limerick in Poetry

Limerick composition is possible for anyone. They tend to leave listeners with their heads shaking or blushing because they’re on edge by nature. They’re guaranteed to elicit at least a grin from anybody, whether smartly crude or humorously G-rated.

Let’s check out some of the best examples that display the limerick in poetry!

1 – Edward Lear’s Limericks

Edward Lear is a pseudonym of the English poet and illustrator Edward Austin Morris, published in 1846. It was his first book of nonsense verse (the term “limerick” did not exist at that time) with illustrations by Chris Riddell as well other famous artists. The book contains 117 limericks, most of them intentionally silly or nonsensical.

Edward Lear was an English poet, illustrator, and teacher. He is best remembered for his nonsense poems such as the lions of Dulwich and the kite sky-larks (which he invented). His unique trademark style consisting of exaggerated proverbs, whimsical observations on life includes some instances in which they blend into 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!”

2 – Rudyard Kipling’s Limericks

This story is about a young French-Canadian kid written by Rudyard Kipling, renowned for his novels like The Jungle Book:

“There was a small boy of Quebec,

Who was buried in snow to his neck;

When they said, “Are you friz?”

He replied, “Yes, I is—

But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.”

3 – Limerick by Mark Twain

Here’s one by the incomparable Mark Twain. Read it carefully!

“A man hired by John Smith and Co.

Loudly declared that he’d tho.

Men that he saw

Dumping dirt by the door

The drivers, therefore, didn’t do.”

4 – Classic Limericks

A famed poet and humorist, Dixon Lanier Merritt’s limerick “A Wonderful Bird is the Pelican” is often misattributed to poet Ogden Nash:

“A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill holds more than his belican.

He can take in his beak,

Enough food for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican.”

5 – Limerick by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice in Wonderland, used limerick poetry extensively, as seen in “There was a Young Lady of Station:”

“There was a young lady of station

“I love man” was her sole exclamation

But when men cried, “You flatter”

She replied, “Oh! no matter!

Isle of Man is the true explanation.”

6 – Limerick by Leigh Mercer

This limerick was set out as an equation by British mathematician Leigh Mercer, who was a master of both wordplay and numbers. The limerick example is here, but we didn’t have to tell you the math:

“A dozen, a gross, and a score

Plus three times the square root of four

Divided by seven

Plus five times eleven

Is nine squared and not a bit more.”

7 – Limerick by Dixon Lanier Merritt

This humorous poem is really the product of Merritt, who is frequently wrongly credited to Ogden Nash. It depicts a made-up term in the second line to maintain the aabba rhyme scheme.

“A wonderful bird is the pelican,

His bill holds more than his belican.

He can take in his beak

Enough food for a week,

But I’m damned if I see how the helican.”

8 – Limerick by Princeton Tiger

When it was published in a Nantucket newspaper, this limerick became famous, and other publications followed up with their own versions.

“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.”

9 – Limerick by H.G. Wells

H.G., a science fiction writer, Wells also experimented with limericks. To keep them interesting and engaging, he used a variety of nonsense words. One of his is below:

“Our novels get longa and longa

Their language gets stronga and stronga.

There’s much to be said

For a life that is led

in illiterate places like Bonga.”

10 – Limerick by Ogden Nash

Ogden Nash, an American poet noted for his humorous compositions, wrote this poem. To not only rhyme the words, but also make them seem the same, he employs creative spelling in several of his writings. One of his most well-known limerick poems is this one:

“There was a young belle of old Natchez

Whose garments were always in patchez.

When comments arose

On the state of her clothes,

She replied, ‘When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.”

Top 10 Tips To Write A Limerick in Poetry

Top 10 Tips To Write A Limerick in Poetry

You might be familiar with a limerick if you’ve heard a five-line poem that begins with the line, “There was a guy from Nantucket.” Rhythmic poems that are brief and catchy. They’re almost always enjoyable to read aloud, even if they’re silly.

Let’s read 10 best tips on how to write own limerick in poetry as follows:

1 – Write it like a short story

Other limericks feature a narrative arc, with a protagonist, story, and conclusion, as you can see when you read them. Approach a limerick like a short tale when you’re writing it.

2 – Introduce with your subject

If you’re including a setting, your opening line should introduce your primary character and set the mood. Begin with your own name, write down words that rhyme with it, and see what hilarious limericks you may come up with on a practice run.

3 – Make them silly

The purpose of a limerick is to be amusing and unintelligible. Put your main character in a ludicrous scenario to ramp up the comedy after you’ve presented them.

4 – Include twist in the last

Like a joke’s punch line, the last line of a limerick is important. A plot twist should end your limericks.

5 – Follow a rhyme scheme

You must follow the AABBA rhyme scheme and the anapestic rhythm pattern in order to create limericks, but there is no restriction on the topic. If you’re having a hard time coming up with words that rhyme, try using a rhyming dictionary as a guide.

6 – Readout aloud

Writing Limericks is both enjoyable and entertaining. Reading them out loud while you write helps you establish the correct rhythm. Finally, read it out loud to get a good chuckle after you’re done.

7 – Include a rhythm

The anapestic (dadaDUM) rhythm is present in limericks. This mini-poem is distinguished from other types of poetry by its particular rhythm.

With traditional limericks, the first and fifth lines must have the same syllables, rhyme (differently from the rhyme of lines two, three, and four), rhythm (same as line one), and should feature seven to ten syllables.

8 – Write in stanzas

A limerick is an English poem that consists of five stanzas, each line rhyming with the previous one. Each stanza has a pattern based on rhymes, where lines 1-4 rhyme and 5-6 don’t. The subject matter can be anything as long as it is silly or humorous in nature (they are almost never serious). In some forms, there are three different patterns of arrangement: AABBAB; AABCCC; ABACAA, etc.

9 – Aim on the first line

The setting and character(s) of a poem are defined by the first line. The reader should be able to understand what or who the limerick is about right away based on the first line.

A location and/or a person should be mentioned in your limerick. Moreover, since the opening line usually concludes with this name, finding a rhyme for this location and/or person should be simple.

10 – Practice, Practice, and Practice!

Make sure you write limericks on a regular basis if you want to improve your limerick writing skills. With all the rhyming, rhythm, and entertaining aspects, writing limericks may be a little challenging at first. Your limericks, on the other hand, may become funnier and wittier with practice.

Final Words

We’ve provided you with a detailed overview of what a limerick is, along with top 10 limerick tips that will help you write funnier poems. We hope that after reading this blog, you’ll be a better limerick writer and understand what makes them so funny! Do check out our examples to get a better understanding of how to write a limerick.

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