Fun Things to do on a Wet Sunday - How to Write a Limerick
Limericks are quick 5-liners. Traditionally nonsense poems they are designed to bring a smile to the reader's face.
The limerick was made popular in the early 1900s by the British writer Edward Lear. He didn't call them limericks and the source of the name is a bit of a mystery - but it probably has something to do with Limerick in Ireland.
Here's an example of a limerick:
There once was a kitten called Lilly,
Who was so terribly silly.
She ran round the house
Chasing a mouse
That had hidden under the telly.
Here's a how-to video.
How to write your own limericks.
- The traditional starting phrase is 'There once was...'. It's an easy place to start but there aren't really any rules so you can use any phrase you like.
- The stress pattern, or beat, of the poem is da-da da-da-da da-da-da-da. In the example above it goes ‘There once was a kit-ten called Lil-ly’ and this beat gives the limerick its characteristic sound.
- The rhyming scheme also gives the poem it's bounce and sound. It goes a-a-b-b-a. So the last words of the 1st 2 lines rhyme; lines 3 and 4 rhyme and the last word of the last line rhymes with the last word of the first line.
- In the example this means silly and Lilly; house and mouse; and then telly and Lilly (a telly is a TV, I'm British).
- Limericks are often bawdy, rude and involve cunning word play.
- Alliteration and assonance also add to the bounce and fun of the limerick.
Alliteration occurs when the same sound or sorts of sounds are repeated near the beginnings of words, or in their stressed syllables. 'She sells sea shells on the sea shore' is an example.
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds (a,e,i,o,u), for example 'how now brown cow'.
7. Make the last line funny, surprising or naughty as this adds to the punch and fun of the limerick.
8. You can use any subject for limericks and no subject if off limits.
Making up limericks is great fun to do with children, on your own during your daily commute or to personalise a birthday or greetings card.
If your local or regional paper likes a bit of sharp humour, try writing a limerick about local public figures and see they will publish them.
Whatever you do with limericks, have fun with them!