The Limerick


There once was a fly on the wall.
I wonder why didn't it fall?
Because its feet stuck
Or was it just luck
Or does gravity miss things so small?

(Author Unknown)

In The Book of Forms, Lewis Turco tells us that the limerick is "a quantitative accentual-syllabic quintet turning on two rhymes: aabba." This playful little form is probably easier to write than it is to decipher Turco's rules. Here's another example:


There was a young lady named Kite
Whose speed was much faster than light.
She left home one day
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.

(Author Unknown)


If you read enough limericks you can intuit the rules of the form that Turco has dissected. The next one, borrowed from volweb, has a few of the words left out, but you'll probably be able to fill in the blanks.


There once was a pauper named Meg
Who accidentally broke her _______.
She slipped on the ______.
Not once, but thrice
Take no pity on her, I __________.

(Author Unknown)


You may also be interested to check out the online dictionary of limericks, OEDILF. But be careful -- it's a vortex that you may never find your way out of! If you want to give a limerick a try, leave me a note so I can check out your blog. It's amazing where the mind will go with this often salacious poetic form!


Derliwall said...

This is a creative form I could really get into! Lots of opportunity for indecency and bad taste....Recall the Lusty limerick anthology found on any basement bookshelf..

.Thanks Jon for this prompt. Here's my attempt (the most decent one):

Why did you not tell me before
That you found me a horrible bore
What a foul mind
And how unkind
To not even hush up your snore

January 24, 2010 at 9:26 PM
Jon said...


Well done! More than decent indeed. And I think there was one of those lusty limerick anthologies kicking around my house when I was younger too!

Thanks for playing along.

January 24, 2010 at 9:31 PM
Doug998 said...

The limerick form is precise,
Its meter leads often to vice.
But I have a long list
Of those that exist
Where ev'rything mentioned was nice.

January 25, 2010 at 6:06 AM
Jon said...

Doug998 -- Great limerick!

Precise indeed... but lots of room to exercise vice. And for sure there's lots of them that keep to "nice" topics, but there's something about the patter of the rhyme and meter that seems to lead the mind into the gutter, eh?

Thanks for stopping by and for your comment.

January 26, 2010 at 1:54 AM
Harlequin said...

ok-- here is one from the road... and maybe it is a reflection of a few of the little rooms I have visited so far this morning.....

there once was a chemist named Sue
whose workplace was next to a loo
she thought it was art
to camouflage fart
with concoctions of sweet smelling goo

oh, well.... they can't all be gems...

January 26, 2010 at 7:39 AM
Devin said...

I left some comments -well two - at A Blade of Grass-but couldnt do the most recent entries -as I have no talent - so I am saying hi here:-) and wishing you long life and happiness at the same time!!
I am actually trying to come up with a short 'romantic' type poem that somebody else did -of course eh? to put up at MFM tonight and having no luck yet -
your friend always -

February 2, 2010 at 7:40 PM