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If you appreciate poetry but find it intimidating and beyond your creative reach to pull off, limericks were made for you. Limericks are poems, but they are short, easy to write, and intended to be kooky, so you can let your imagination run wild and not worry about trying to sound like Emily Dickinson.
Pets make ideal subjects for limericks, so in honor of National Limerick Day, we present the Great Pet Limerick Challenge for you to come up with a limerick that incorporates your pet’s name or other characteristics.
Here are the “rules” of how to create a limerick, according to Your Dictionary:
- A limerick is a humorous poem consisting of five lines.
- The first, second, and fifth lines should have seven to ten syllables while rhyming and having the same verbal rhythm.
- The third and fourth lines should only have five to seven syllables; they too must rhyme with each other and have the same rhythm.
- Most limericks begin by describing a person and place, and then the rest of the lines describe that person’s actions. Substitute pet with person for this exercise.
While these are guidelines, don’t feel obliged to follow them too strictly. Many writers have stretched the rules to great effect, and they are supposed to be fun, after all. Also, limericks are often naughty so breaking the rules is in character.
Here are two limerick examples from famous authors:
There Was an Old Poop from Poughkeepsie
There was an old poop from Poughkeepsie,
Who tended, at night, to be tipsy.
Said he, ”My last steps
Aren’t propelled by just Schweppes! ” –
That peppy old poop from Poughkeepsie.
There Was A Small Boy of Quebec
There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said. “Are you friz?”
He replied, “Yes, I is—
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec.”
And, just so you see that anyone can do it, here is a less elegant limerick I wrote about my dog:
There Was a Labrador Called Cooper
There was a dog from King County.
Dropped scraps and shoes were his bounty.
His name was Cooper,
He was quite the trooper,
He gobbled treats all over the county.
Where did Limericks originate and how did they get their name?
Edward Lear, a famous British artist, poet, and writer of literary nonsense, is widely considered the father of the limerick. He didn’t write the first one – the first limericks came about in the early 1700s and are often preserved in folk songs – but he popularized the form, according to Your Dictionary. More importantly, he wrote some of the best.
The name Limerick is thought to come from the Irish county of Limerick, even though the poetry form did not originate there. It is speculated that it derived from an 18th-century Irish soldiers’ song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” that was full of nonsense verse.