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How To Write a Limerick

Updated on November 6, 2013

Limericks are very easy to write, unless you're a perfectionist like me and tried to get it exactly how it is supposed to written. But then again, I had just come from writing my sonnet and had pentameter engrained into my soul. (Check out my hub on writing a sonnet: "How To Write a Sonnet For Beginners".)

But let's not do that to you. We all know the most well recognized limerick, "There once was a man from Nantucket...." You can check out the rest on a different site, we're PG here. ;). And the reason that we know it so well (other than we all love a dirty poem) is that it's catchy and has a rhythm to it, like those obnoxious jingles that get stuck in your head, or those hip hop songs that repeat the same seven words in an elapsed time of four minutes and yet they gross millions of dollars. Blows my mind. Anyway, I digress.

To write a limerick there are just a few simple rules

1-They consist of five lines.

2-The rhyme scheme is as follows:

a a b b a

3-The rhythm of the poem is called anapestic [unstressed/stressed syllables], which simply sounds like:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

4-Humorous, often crude.

I've included a limerick I wrote. I tried to find a different way to start the poem, but I found that "There once was..." style is the easiest, but please share others you come up with! Not all limericks line up perfectly with the anapestic meter, even the iconic Edward Lear strayed!! So don't stress too much about the stresses. ;). Limericks are fun to write and can bring out a playful side of you if you let it! So release your inner child and just Nantucket.

American Pride

I once knew a man with no pants

I met him when he asked me to dance

I thought he was nice

‘Til I got a surprise

That’s the last time you’ll see me in France.


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