Saturday, March 8, 2014


Post by Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley, co-founder

     So, my last poetry post was about the Japanese poetry style of haiku. Here we'll look at an other short, but less dignified, poetry type. And, no, it's not Japanese.

     Our subject today is the limerick. A limerick consists of five lines, the first, second, and last being seven to ten syllables, and the third and fourth being five to seven. The first, second and last end with the same sound, and the third and fourth will end with their own. We'll use the most well-known limerick as our example. Seeing as no one's quite sure who wrote it, and those who some say did write it are dead, I think I'm safe from copyright problems.

There was a young lady of Niger
who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
with the lady inside,
and the smile on the face of the tiger.

     As I'm sure you're well aware, this is amusing. And most limericks are amusing, or at least ironic. They also usually deal with a person, who is often unusual, or has something unusual happen to them. And by unusual, I mean Twilight Zone-like. So, let's go about constructing our own, huh?

Once a young girl had a thought

     The first line normally introduces the character. Notice that this line is seven syllables.

And such a thing she did have a lot

     To be honest, I'm just playing for time here, but it rhymes and is nine syllables, so it'll work for now.

She saw then a fawn
And the thought then was gone

     Okay, I put these together because the first on it's own is kind of pointless.

And though she looked, it all was for naught

     Yeah, this didn't work out so well, huh? Not very clear or anything, but I'll rewrite it. That's the important thing, you need to just spew something out (because if you think about it your limerick will probably seem stupidly silly, and they're kind of supposed to be that way) and then you fix it, if you can.

Once a young girl had a thought
And such a thing she did not have a lot
She saw then a fawn
And the thought then was gone
Though she looked for the thought, is was for naught

     Ta-da! It's still not half as good as the tiger one, but it works, and this is my first limerick that actually does, so I'm happy with it. How about you? Can you write a limerick?

     Ah, and a bonus limerick to prove my point about their silliness:

There was a young lady named Bright
who traveled much faster than light.
She set out one day
in a relative way,
and came back the previous night.

     I hope you enjoyed this!

Elisabeth TenBrink Kelley is an aspiring author and poet. To learn more about her, see our About Us page. You can follow her on Twitter here: @ElisabethGTK. You know you've got the right one if the picture is of a dragon holding a crystal ball.

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