Limericks A Form of Poetry? The form of poetry referred to as Limerick poems have received incredibly bad press and dismissed as not having a rightful place amongst what is seen as 'cultivated poetry'. The reason for this is three-fold:
Form[ edit ] An illustration of the fable of Hercules and the Wagoner by Walter Crane in the limerick collection "Baby's Own Aesop" The standard form of a limerick is a stanza of five lines, with the first, second and fifth rhyming with one another and having three feet of three syllables each; and the shorter third and fourth lines also rhyming with each other, but having only two feet of three syllables.
The defining "foot" of a limerick's meter is usually the anapaestta-ta-TUMbut catalexis missing a weak syllable at the beginning of a line and extra-syllable rhyme which adds an extra unstressed syllable can make limericks appear amphibrachic ta-TUM-ta.
The first line traditionally introduces a person and a place, with the place appearing at the end of the first line and establishing the rhyme scheme for the second and fifth lines. In early limericks, the last line was often essentially a repeat of the first line, although this is no longer customary.
Within the genre, ordinary speech stress is often distorted in the first line, and may be regarded as a feature of the form: The most prized limericks incorporate a kind of twist, which may be revealed in the final line or lie in the way the rhymes are often intentionally tortured, or both.
Many limericks show some form of internal rhymealliteration or assonanceor some element of word play. Verses in limerick form are sometimes combined with a refrain to form a limerick songa traditional humorous drinking song often with obscene verses.
David Abercrombie, a phonetician, takes a different view of the limerick, and one which seems to accord better with the form. Lines one, two, and five have three feet, that is to say three stressed syllables, while lines three and four have two stressed syllables.
The number and placement of the unstressed syllables is rather flexible.
There is at least one unstressed syllable between the stresses but there may be more — as long as there are not so many as to make it impossible to keep the equal spacing of the stresses.
Etymology[ edit ] The origin of the name limerick for this type of poem is debated. The name is generally taken to be a reference to the City or County of Limerick in Ireland   sometimes particularly to the Maigue Poetsand may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that included "Will [or won't] you come up to Limerick?
When he went to the show, his purse made him go to a seat in the uppermost gallery.
Won't you come to Limerick. Lear wrote limericks, mostly considered nonsense literature. It was customary at the time for limericks to accompany an absurd illustration of the same subject, and for the final line of the limerick to be a variant of the first line ending in the same word, but with slight differences that create a nonsensical, circular effect.
The humour is not in the "punch line" ending but rather in the tension between meaning and its lack.
There was a Young Person of Smyrna Whose grandmother threatened to burn her. But she seized on the cat, and said 'Granny, burn that! You incongruous old woman of Smyrna! Variations[ edit ] "Amstaff named Yoko from Zgierz" haptic limerick by Witold Szwedkowski as an example of haptic poetry The limerick form is so well known that it has been parodied in many ways.
The following example is of unknown origin: There was a young man from Japan Whose limericks never would scan. And when they asked why, He said "I do try! But when I get to the last line I try to fit in as many words as I can. There was an old man of St. Bees, Who was stung in the arm by a wasp, When asked, "Does it hurt?
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