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Limericks and me

Updated on May 22, 2012
Limerick, a beautiful place that I have never visited.
Limerick, a beautiful place that I have never visited. | Source

I would never have thought that I would write poetry. Indeed, I thought that I hated poetry because of its ability to expose some weaknesses in me: intolerance and impatience, stubbornness and a bit of stupidity. Intolerance of a form of literature that I could not be bothered to take the time to appreciate, and impatience with anyone who might try to convince me that poetry was worth getting to know. Stubbornness is one of my stronger traits, and I have been aware of it coming into play with my refusal to give poetry a chance. But the main reason I have always been a little afraid of poetry is because of my vanity, and my belief that poetry could expose me for the charlatan that I am! If I tried to understand poetry, or to write it, everyone would quickly become aware of my lack of intelligence! Poetry has been the fly in my ointment, the pea under my mattress, the thorn in my side, the little itch that would not go away no matter how hard I scratched.

Of course, poetry has been no such thing, and all of these negative things have existed only in my imagination. Poetry, in reality, has been beckoning in a most friendly and welcoming manner, and has not been deterred by my cold shoulder. Poetry has waited patiently, never with a knowing smile, yet always confident that I would join the party eventually. Clever of poetry to know that, since I was not aware of it myself.

Andrew Marvell, who wrote some nice poems, and some odd ones too.  I seem to remember that I did enjoy them when I was at school.
Andrew Marvell, who wrote some nice poems, and some odd ones too. I seem to remember that I did enjoy them when I was at school.

I have been reading some poetry since becoming a member here, and that is what this community is excellent for: providing us with new reading experiences, encouraging us to look outside of our bubble and to see the world from the perspectives of any number of others. There are some very talented poets here, and I do know that I am not anywhere near their league, and will never be near it.

Aka Professor M was very gracious a few days ago when he urged me to have a go at writing a little something poetical, after I had hijacked his hub and started a conversation about something other than the excellent poem that he had composed himself about the Dangers of Anger (no longer published). I gulped nervously, but knew that I had to take up the bait, aware that Professor Mike only ever encourages me to improve my writing skills and explore new facets of my meagre talent. I trusted the Professor's faith in me, and gave it a go:

Miss Wordsmith she wanted to rhyme,

She heard people rhyme all the time,

She stuttered and tripped,

Some pancakes she flipped,

Then she gave up and rested, sublime.

Now, well, alright, just before you leave this hub in disgust, hear me out! Now, you might have been hoping for something a bit more, well, poetic, perhaps a little more flourishing and metaphysical. I must explain that, although I can enjoy a bit of Andrew Marvell* as much as the next person, I will never be able to compose lilting love poems full of classical references and so on, because such sentiments do not exist in my cold heart.

The Professor and I had a little discussion about limericks, and about humorous poetry, and I decided that this would be the way to go. Now, I'm sure you're dying to tell me that the little verse I showed you just now is not really very funny. But in my defence, I am not a standup comedienne, and I am only taking my first baby steps into this alien world of rhyme and rhythm. And I understand your disappointment, truly I do, at the insertion of the word 'pancakes' when cooking had not hitherto been mentioned. But when faced with the word 'flipped' the only image that would persist in thrusting itself to the forefront of my mind was a pancake pan. What could I do? It had to be written down, because it refused to leave otherwise. Happily for me, once my little ditty had been committed to the ether, the image of the pan disappeared, purged.

So that was that. My first poem, a limerick, was out in the open for all to see who would wish to. What now then? Well, I floated about on my false sense of pride for a little while, and did a little sit down dance of glee a few hours later when the Professor expressed some delight at my efforts. But what was this?! Praise from another writer, Sligobay! Two people commenting on my first poem, which was not even published in my own hub. How exciting! A lovely little spat ensued, between the Professor and Sligobay, as to the correct adjective that should be applied to my substantial effort in crafting this stunning piece of wordsmithery - of course, I knew that it was all in good fun, but I could not overpower the urge to write about the two gentleman as if they were having a genuine disagreement. Is this what poetry is all about? Urges to write that the writer has no control over? Because if it is, then I must say that I find it a more powerful urge than the one which drives me to write prose! This is peculiar to me.

So anyway, I wrote this:

The Professor and Sligo at odds,

Thought Linda, 'they are silly sods,

To fight and enflame,

When my poetry's so lame.'

But really they're all writing Gods!

Now, before you rush to your keyboard to tell me about my dreadful mistake, I know that 'enflame' is not a word, and I should have used 'inflame', but in my haste to show off the fact that I could compose a little verse in roughly two minutes (though who on Earth would know how long it had taken me if I had not told you just now?!) I hit the Comment button before I had checked the poem thoroughly. Shame on me. I won't do that again. Must calm down about poetry.

* Don't be under any illusion that I'm being intelligent here: Andrew Marvell is the only metaphysical poet that I know, and I only know of him because we read some of his poems at school. I can't remember a word of them. I have just looked up 'To His Coy Mistress'; it was vaguely familiar, and I have a faint memory of our English teacher blushing when she revealed that the poem alluded to something a bit rude!

Wilfred Owen: another poet that I studied at school.  I did love his work, because for some reason I found it so easy to understand - war poetry: not funny at all, and even I am not sure why I can appreciate it.
Wilfred Owen: another poet that I studied at school. I did love his work, because for some reason I found it so easy to understand - war poetry: not funny at all, and even I am not sure why I can appreciate it.

I did compose one more limerick for the Professor, very quickly, when he assured me that I had taken the spat too seriously, verbal jousting he called it. Now since I had originally wanted to use the word 'jousting' in the second limerick, I could not resist the opportunity to use it now. Want to see it? You might as well, and then you've got the trilogy.

The word she would use it was 'jousting',

But fit it would not, nope, so ousting.

'Fight' seemed too strong,

And she knew it was wrong,

But now she's accused them of rousting!

So there you have it, my first venture into poetics. And I must say that I enjoyed it thoroughly, and found it to be much less difficult than I had feared. Now, whether that is because limericks are easy-peasy I cannot tell. I am sure that, just like any kind of writing, there are people in the hubaspere, and indeed the rest of the world, who could limerick me into the dust! In fact, I sent my little poetical offerings to some friends, and they promptly sent back some of their own, making me realise that I am absolutely not special, and that penning a few rhyming couplets should not give me ideas above my station! I certainly do not feel as though I can now write any kind of poetry I like, and it may well be that I will stick with limericks for the rest of my life and never explore any other form. But that is alright. I have tried something new, and I have not embarrassed myself in the attempt. I am absolutely certain that I have a long way to go, and many lessons to learn, but I have the sense that I've begun a little journey that might take me to places I had never, ever expected to go.

But perhaps I have begun with the basics, and time will tell if I can progress any further. I am interested in finding out more about haiku - minimalism in poetry might be the key for me; the adage of 'less is more' seems to suit me.

What was the last new thing you tried? (Only tell us if it's appropriate - no rude things please!)


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