Do you know any limericks? Sure you do–but you might not know that May 12th is National Limerick Day. That’s in honor of the birthday of English writer Edward Lear, who did a lot to popularize limericks in 1846 with the release of Book of Nonsense. Here’s one of his original poems:
There was an Old Man of Aosta
Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her;
But they said, “Don’t you see,
She has rushed up a tree?
You invidious Old Man of Aôsta!”
Lear would often end the first and last line of a limerick with the same word. He could get away with it. Officially, though, a limerick is five lines long, with the first two lines rhyming with the fifth line. The third and fourth lines rhyme, as well. Some people insist that the lines have a precise syllable count. The third and fourth lines have six syllables, and the rest have eight syllables. And it’s always a good idea to have the last line be a punchline. Puns are welcome, too.
There’s a town in Ireland named Limerick, but nobody can quite explain the connection between the poem and the place. We’d always just thought Lear was an Irishman. Anyway, here’s a collection of limericks, and you can be sure they’re the old-fashioned clean kind. Share them with the children, and help them out in composing a few of their own. It’s a lot more fun than frustrating…
There once was an ape in a zoo
Who looked out through the bars and saw you!
Do you think it’s fair
To give poor apes a scare?
I think it’s a mean thing to do.
There was a young fellow named Flynn
Who was really remarkably thin.
When he carried a pole
People said, “Bless my soul!
What a shock to find out you’ve a twin.”
There once were two cats of Kilkenny.
Each thought that was one cat too many,
So they started to fight
And to scratch and to bite–
Now, instead of two cats, there aren’t any.
Said a salty old skipper from Wales,
“Number one, it’s all right to chew nails.
It impresses the crew,
And impresses me, too,
But stop spitting holes in the sails!”
There was a young fellow who thought
Very little, but thought it a lot.
Then at long last he knew
What he wanted to do,
But before he could start, he forgot!
There was a young schoolboy of Rye,
Who was baked by mistake in a pie.
To his mother’s disgust
He emerged through the crust,
And exclaimed, with a yawn, “Where am I?”