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Limerick Day is May 12

Updated on February 2, 2015

Let's Celebrate Limerick Day

May 12 celebrates the limerick -- the silly, humorous, 5-line poem popularized by English poet, author, artist and illustrator, Edward Lear (1812-1888). It is also Edward Lear's 200th birthday.

The limericks, known as nonsense poetry, were compiled in "A Book Of Nonsense" which Edward Lear wrote for the grandchildren of Edward Stanley, the 13th Earl of Derby. The play on words with a rhyme and rhythm pattern often started with "There once was a" with the last line being the "punch line" but often repeats the same last word of the first line. Lear's limericks were always accompanied with his illustrations of absurd characters which matched the nonsense poems. His limericks were innocent and refreshing and only later did the modern day limericks turn bawdy and raunchy.

To celebrate Limerick Day and pay tribute to Edward Lear's 200th birthday, let's read more about this amazing human being and learn how to write nonsense poetry-- and read them out loud. Let's all raise a glass to the King of Limerick.

Photo Source:Wikipedia Commons

A little bit about Edward Lear

Edward Lear was born on May 12, 1812 in the London suburb of Holloway, the twentieth of twenty-one children. He had a delicate health, suffered from epileptic seizures, and was sent away by his mother to live with his older sister Anne, who served as his surrogate mother until he was 50 years old. Edward never got over the rejection by his mother, never got married, had a sad and lonely life, wandered around Europe and Asia, and lived in San Remo, Italy for 10 years. His constant companion for 30 years was his Albanian friend and servant, Giorgis Cokali, and later, his tabby cat, Foss, who Lear doted on for 14 years. Even in death, at the age of 76, Edward was alone because most of his friends could not attend his funeral.

Edward Lear used his hilarious limericks as his way of undermining the orderliness and stuffiness of the Victorian society. He may be known for his laughable nonsense verse, but Lear was also an accomplished watercolorist and landscape painter, and in his early years excelled as an illustrator of natural history of birds and reptiles. His published book Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots contains the best bird illustrations that will make the Audubon Society proud. Lear's Macaw (Anodorhynchus Leari) was named in honor of Edward Lear.

With failing eyesight, Edward Lear turned to writing limericks, stories and poems.

Meet Edward Lear

The Life and Times of Edward Lear

Edward Lear's Most remarkable achievement - Bird illustrations that would make the Audubon Society proud

Edward Lear's most famous children's nonsense verse.

The Owl and the Pussycat - My favorite nonsense poem by Edward Lear

Link to The Owl and the Pussycat poem

This is one of my favorite childhood poems that I know by heart. It is the most popular poem written by Edward Lear that used animals instead of humans for his characters.

Do not miss this gem

Visit All of Edward Lear's nonsense books and stories with all the original illustrations

Nonsense Alphabet by Edward Lear - Easy way for little ones to learn their ABCs and rhymes

Reciting the alphabet has never been so fun.

Origin of Limerick Day - Every day is a cause for celebration

It is believed that Limerck Day came into being when Mr. Lear's Limericks were included in the Kids' Diary of 365 Amazing Days in 1979.

What makes a limerick a limerick

1. Limericks have 5 lines in a stanza.

2. Limericks have a distinctive rhyme pattern of AABBA.

3.Limericks have a rhythm pattern, usually controlled by the number of syllables per line.

Line 1,2,5 usually have 7-10 syllables; lines 3,4 usually have 5-7 syllables.

4. Limericks have a punch line in the last last line.

Let's write some limericks

It is also referred to as giggle poetry

To celebrate Limerick Day, I wrote some limericks related to my experiences in Squidoo. These were just used as examples to explain what a limerick is, and how easy it is to write one.

Once upon a time, I had a lens locked by the filter. It was about the ancient practice of Chinese Foot Binding." I sent HQ an appeal, and the next day, the lens was greenlighted and I was able to successfully publish it. A few weeks later, the lens was awarded a Purple Star. This just proves that all's well that ends well.

Along with the limericks are accompanying cartoons I created to match the poems. It's Limerick Day, let's have some fun!

A Limerick has a rhyme pattern

There are 5 lines to a limerick with an AABBA rhyme pattern. The last words of lines 1,2,5, rhyme with each other (in red); similarly, the last words of lines 2,3 rhyme with each other (in green).

Written by Bakerwoman

1 There once was a lens in Squidoo,(A)

2 T'was locked by the filter, boo hoo,(A)

3 In error it got snared,(B)

4 "Publish it," I declared,(B)

5 "Chinese Foot Binding" isn't taboo.(A)

A Limerick has a rhythm pattern

Go with the beat

A limerick also has a distinctive rhythm pattern or beat. Lines 1,2,5 have the beat pattern of da DUM da da DUM da da DUM; lines 2,3 has the beat pattern of da DUM da da DUM. The DUM is the accent on each line.

Read aloud each line of the limerick and recite the da dad DUM rhythm pattern beneath each one. You will get the feel of the beat and rhythm which is very engaging.

1 There once was a lens in Squidoo, (3 DUMs)

- da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

2 T'was locked by the filter, boo hoo, (3 DUMS)

- da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

3 In error it got snared, (2 DUMs)

- da DUM da da DUM

4 Publish it, I declared, (2 DUMs)

- da DUM da da DUM

5 "Chinese Foot Binding" isn't taboo. (3 DUMs)

- da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

My nonsense poetry

Are you ready for more limericks?

Here are a few more tongue-in-cheek ones that I wrote which are Squidoo-centric accompanied by some Squidoodles.

Squid Forum Limerick

A place to be heard, learn, share, and be entertained

Written by Bakerwoman

There once was a Squid Forum,

Where "mods" maintained decorum,

Squids learned and discussed,

Or bantered and fussed,

At times there was no quorum.

Note: Lines1, 2 5 all have 7 syllables each; lines 3, 4 have 5 syllables each. This I did intentionally to maintain the beat or rhythm pattern.

We all know the feeling when our lens get blessed by a Squid Angel. It is a vote of confidence and a boost in LensRank.

Squid Angels Limerick

Angels have the task of finding great lenses and administering blessings

Written by Bakerwoman

Squid angels, before they vamoose,

From neighborhoods where they're let loose,

They fly and they hover,

Sprinkle dust all over,

To bless and give good lenses a boost.

Edward Lear centenary stamp in UK. - He would have made a wonderful Squid Angel, don't you think?

This is one in a set of four Royal Mail stamps made to commemorate the centenary (100 years) of Edward Lear's death in 1988 which I purchased from eBay.

Lensrank and tiers have always been controversial-- sometimes defying gravity, rhyme or reason. Everyone wants to shoot for the stars and get to tier 1. But getting there comes with a lot of hardwork and a lot of prayers.

Lensrank and Tier 1 Limerick

Staying in tier 1 is a feat

Written by Bakerwoman

There once was a lens in tier one,

A commendable feat, bar none,

Then it slipped and tumbled,

Lensmaster was humbled,

Lens content had to be redone.

If you have at least 25 well-crafted lenses, you can apply to be a Giant Squid 25. The levels go up higher until 500. But not all applications get a thumbs up by HQ.

Giant Squids Limerick

Lenses must have the 3 U's - Unique, Useful, Updated

Written by Bakerwoman

There once was a Squid from Squidoo,

Squid giantship it wants to pursue,

But great lenses must comply,

To the three U's, do or die,

Or HQ will bid them adieu.

Giant Squids have special perks, like unlimited daily lenses, greenlighting, and of course, a trophy, among other things. Giant Squids start at level 25, and move on to 50,100, 250 to 500. Everyone can apply, but HQ has the final say.

Purple Star Awards are kudos for well-crafted lenses that are useful, unique, and updated.

Purple Star Award Limerick

For well-crafted lenses with UUUs

Written by Bakerwoman

Some fine lenses may be hidden,

Unearthed by Bonnie and Robin,

Outstanding by design,

These lenses were sublime,

So Purple Stars were given.

Who would not want to be LOTD? Your lens will be on the marquee for everyone to see. It is rarely awarded and when you do get one, it is a great honor.

Lens of the Day (LOTD)

Stands out in the crowd

Written by Bakerwoman

A singled-out lens is on display,

It basks in glory for a day,

It is known to linger,

For a week or longer,

That wonderful Lens of the Day.

Try writing a limerick

Now that you got the hang of the limerick's rhyme and rhythm, what about writing your own?

Take this short poll

Have you ever written a limerick?

See results

Timeless humor

Edward Lear undertood what captivated children and what made them laugh and be merry. He did not invent the limerick--he just popularized it and made them engaging, short, and laughing-out-loud funny.

Edward Lear was an accomplished watercolour and landscape artist and zoological illustrator. He gave Queen Victoria twelve drawing lessons.

Edward Lear's Parrot Illustrations - Own these priceless artwork of a genius

At the young age of 16, Edward Lear drew all the known parrot species. He was homeschooled by his older sister, Anne who also taught him how to draw. The Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots (1830-1832) garnered him membership into the Linnaean Society due to the excellence of his paintings and illustrations.

Edward Lear watercolours and sketches - A travel artist writing his own travelogues

Edward Lear traveled extensively to Albania, Greece, Rome, Egypt, Turkey and India during his adult life. He journeyed into dangerous countries, usually with his manservant, Giorgis Cocali, and captured the picturesque landscape, richness of the exotic costumes and character of the people he encountered, documenting his sojourns in his own travel diaries.

Limericks are not Irish. Edward Lear was English. The origin of the word is unknown although it is often taken to be a reference to the County of Limerick in Ireland.

How to improve on Edward Lear's limericks - Change the punch line

Most of Edward Lear's Limericks use the same last word in the 1st and 5th lines. This fun video illustrates how you can change the last line and give a funny punch line.

Join the celebration

A full calendar of celebrations as Edward Lear turns 200 years old.

Edward Lear's Bicentenary Events

Great book to introduce children to poetry - Learning made fun

Rhymes begging to be read aloud - Edward Lear was a creative genius with a way with words

Edward Lear understood children's delight in the sounds and meanings of words. He invented words like 'runcible spoon' in The Owl and the Pussycat which how appears in dictionaries. Other play with words are The Dolomphious Duck and The Absolutely Abstemious Ass, to name a few alliterations.

Watch Edward Lear's limericks come to life

Just in time for the 200th birthday celebration of Edward Lear on May 12, 2012, a production of ARG! Cartoon Animation, LLC will add more cartoon actions on YouTube based on A Book of Nonsense (1846)..

Merriment with rhymes for children

Keep children smiling and entertained during their waking hours and at bedtime. These books will bring out the kid in most of us. Colorful, witty, funny and just plain awesome.

Old Edward Lear Collectibles Books - With the author's own illustrations

Nonsense Songs, Nonsense Alphabets, Book of Nonsense and more Nonsense, Botany---just absolutely nonsense and so laughable.

Limerick expert Don Marquis identified three types of limericks: "limericks to be told when ladies are present; limericks to be told when ladies are absent but clergymen are present; and LIMERICKS."

Before you go, do drop me a line,

Make it neat and make it rhyme,

It's Limerick Day,

You can have your say,

About this lens, you can opine.

Do let me know you stopped by - Leave me some nonsense verse

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    • profile image

      SteveKaye 5 years ago

      You make the most amazing lenses! Thank you for this one and the smiles it brought on. Wish you the best.

    • KateHonebrink profile image

      KateHonebrink 5 years ago

      Marvelously done! A hearty congratulations on having this article featured on the May Silly Celebrations monsterboard! Kudos indeed!!

    • yourselfempowered profile image

      Odille Rault 5 years ago from Gloucester

      Fabulously fun lens! :)

    • verymary profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Chicago area

      I adore the owl and the pussycat and loved learning about limericks -- thanks! Happy to bless this one.

    • jlshernandez profile image

      jlshernandez 5 years ago

      Thanks to all who took my challenge. It is just so fun to see some interaction in the comments page. I apprciate all the comments.

    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      What a great lens! I wish I was better at limericks, or I'd leave my message in rhyme! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • profile image

      getmoreinfo 5 years ago

      You did a good job on this lens, I like it.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      What an original and creative lens. Blessed!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      There once was a hummer who made a nest in the summer. a petunia bush where she thought it was safe.

      But along came a crow, who gave it a blow!

      Now the Hummer says, "Oh what a bummer!"

      ...its the best I can do!


    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      There once was a limerick verse:

      Anapaestic to start, it got worse.

      Cried the poet, "Oh dear,

      I'm prosaic, I fear,

      And far too old to go changing my ways at this late date, but thanks for giving us all such a good time with your interesting and amusing lens for Limerick Day!"

    • victoriuh profile image

      victoriuh 5 years ago

      More likely I could do the heimlich!

    • Mistl profile image

      Mistl 5 years ago

      I liked your limericks and rhyme,

      However it would be a crime,

      If I were to try,

      With a rhyme to get by,

      As I will fail most the time.