The magic of limericks, the little verses that are a lot of fun

Not all of us can be poets but there are some forms of poetry that are fun to try your hand at. Just get familiar with the rules and have a go at it!

Limericks are a lot of fun

Half begun is almost done

It isn’t hard to do

I can do it, can you?

Just use your wit or find a pun.

Limericks used to be pretty popular at one time. Their popularity has waxed and waned over time but they have never totally fallen out of favour. Limericks are short, simple and almost always funny. Some are absurd, others are quite clever and a few are rather naughty. The English poet Edward Lear wrote a lot of great Limericks and is sometimes credited with inventing the format but he denied doing so. No one really knows why Limericks are called Limericks. Was it because the first one was about a place called Limerick or because it was written in Limerick? No one really knows or cares. This five-line stanza has been around for many years. One of the earliest examples is found in Halliwell’s 16th century collection of English Nursery Rhymes:

Diddledy, diddledy, dumpty!
The cat ran up the plum-tree;
Half a crown
to fetch her down,
Diddledy, diddledy, dumpty

As you can see, it’s a five-line format where the first, second and fifth lines rhyme, as do the third and fourth. That’s called an anapaestic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA).To give you a flavour of this form of poetry, here are some of the old favourites. They usually start with a mention of a place and a person:


There was a Young Lady whose chin

Resembled the point of a pin:

So she had it made sharp,

And purchased a harp,

And played several tunes with her chin.


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


There was a Young Lady of Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They came back from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.


There was an old man who said, “Do

Tell me how to add two and two?

I’m not very sure

That it doesn’t make four

But I fear that is almost too few”


There once was a young lady named Bright

Whose speed was much faster than light

She set out one day

In a relative way

And returned on the previous night.


There was a young lady of Crete,

Who was so exceedingly neat,

When she got out of bed

She stood on her head,

To make sure of not soiling her feet.


There are die-hard fans of the form and newspapers often held contests asking readers to complete a Limerick. Would you like to try your hand at it?

Creative Yatra has a new contest

They will pick only the best

Just add a line

Right below mine


Put on your thinking hat and follow the AABBA format of rhyming.


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