There once was a man with a story
He hoped it would bring him great glory
So he wrote and he wrote
Until each word he could quote
Never knowing it was just an allegory
Limerick day was created to celebrate the most prolific artist, illustrator, author, and poet of his day, Edward Lear. He made the limerick popular, mainly for children, in his 1846 “Book Of Nonsense“.
His birthday, May 12th, 1812 is cause for this celebration. Though he died in 1888, his work continues to be read, shared, and studied even today.
A limerick is a very short poem. Generally 5 lines with the first, second, and 5th lines rhyming, and the third and fourth lines rhyming. This type of rhyme is called Anapetic Trimeter. It is supposed to be nonsense, although, if you look deeply, there is often some sort of hidden message in each of the limericks. They are generally meant to be fun though and not taken too seriously.
Whoever created National Limerick Day did not take credit for it. Those of us who are fond of limericks though are glad they did. Below are the 5 most famous limericks to date. Some have been altered over the years, so don’t be surprised when the opening line may remind you of some not-so-famous limericks.
The first one comes from 1744:
“Hickory dickory dock.
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one,
And down he run.
Hickory dickory dock.”
This one is from 1902:
“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.”
This is one of Lear’s:
“There was an Old Man of Peru
Who watched his wife making a stew.
But once, by mistake,
In a stove she did bake
That unfortunate Man of Peru.”
This one comes from Ogden Nash:
“A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill can hold more than his beli-can.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the heli-can.”
And the last one comes from Zack Weiner:
“This limerick goes in reverse
Unless I’m remiss
The neat thing is this:
If you start from the bottom-most verse
This limerick’s not any worse.”
How to celebrate: Make up a few of your own limericks. Read Lear’s “Book Of Nonsense”. Share limericks with a child.