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Whether you are a writer, a poet or a complete newbie when it comes to creative writing, a limerick is a great place to start; they are fun, short, and sometimes (often) a little bit shameless! Read on to learn how to write one, and see some examples.
Writing a limerick
Standard limericks are written in a stanza format of five lines, with certain lines rhyming with others. Line one, two and five should rhyme with each other and be made up of 7-10 syllables, and lines three and four should rhyme with each other and be made up of 5-7 syllables. To make this clearer, I will mark this information on the example below – a famous limerick I love:
There once was a man from Nantucket (A)(9 syllables)
Who kept all his cash in a bucket. (A)(9 syllables)
But his daughter, named Nan, (B)(6 syllables)
Ran away with a man (B)(6 syllables)
And as for the bucket, Nan took it. (A) (9 syllables)
– Anonymous, but first published by Prof. Dayton Voorhees in 1902
The rhyming lines above have been highlighted by an A or a B, and this can be easily remembered using ‘AABBA’. After writing a few, though, you will find it comes naturally, as it is such an organic-feeling rhyme sequence. The subject matter can be anything you like: from a boy called Stuart’s first day at school, to a wombat with an identity crisis, and anything in-between! The wackier the better when it comes to limericks, but anything goes.
As many limericks are quite racy in nature, I have collected together a few enjoyable safe-for-the-blog examples below!
There was an old man with a beard
Who said, “it’s just how I feared!
Two owls and a hen
Four larks and a wren
Have all built their nests in my beard”.
A bather whose clothing was strewed
By winds that left her quite nude
Saw a man come along
And unless we are wrong
You expected this line to be lewd.
There was a young fellow named Paul
Who fell in the spring in the fall.
‘Twould have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring,
But he didn’t — he died in the fall.
Having fun with limericks
Below is a limerick I wrote in five minutes. It’s far from great, but I really enjoyed writing it. Take five minutes out today and give it a go!
In Leeds there was a depressed clown
He never smiled, always a frown
Allergic to his red nose
Each shift, a thousand big blows
Retirement made that frown flip upside down.
What would the subject matter of your limerick be? Why not share your (clean!) limericks with me and other readers in the comments below? We’d love to read them.