Author Topic: The Limerick Clinic  (Read 4338 times)


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The Limerick Clinic
« on: November 02, 2007, 06:12:03 AM »
I realise that limericks are mainly a British pastime and I have been told that they are rather alien to our friends in the USA.   

As I have had more than one request to explain what a limerick should contain, we all felt it was good idea to set up a limerick clinic!!  The Limericks thread seems to be so important to many of us, it is a way of expressing one's self in the silliest of ways!   Its fun and I suggest you all look back at some of the first ones we did when I started the thread 286 pages ago!! There are very few true limericks amongst them, but I hope to allow chance for you to become a little more inventive.

Sometimes in a week we can go through 5 pages or more, and everyone seems to love contributiing.

So for your help here is the information again so it isnt lost in the main thread

A limerick has five lines, with three metrical feet in the first, second and fifth lines and two metrical feet in the third and fourth lines. A variety of types of metrical foot can be used, but the most typical are the amphibrach (a stressed syllable between two unstressed syllables) and the anapaest (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable). The rhyme scheme is usually AABBA.

The first line of a limerick traditionally introduces a person and a place, with the place appearing at the end of the first line and therefore 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: "There WAS a young MAN from the COAST;" "There ONCE was a GIRL from DeTROIT..." Legman (xliv) takes this as a convention whereby prosody is violated simultaneously with propriety. Exploitation of geographical names, especially exotic ones, is also common, and has been seen as invoking memories of geography lessons in order to subvert the decorum taught in the schoolroom; Legman finds that the exchange of limericks is almost exclusive to comparatively well-educated males (women figuring in limericks almost exclusively as "villains or victims," according to Legman). The most prized limericks incorporate a kind of twist, which may be revealed in the final line, or may lie in the way the rhymes are often intentionally tortured, or both. Many limericks additionally show some form of internal rhyme, alliteration or assonance, or some element of wordplay. Some examples exploit the strict form of the limerick to lead the listener into expecting a particular conclusion, particularly one that would be obscene or shocking, and then derive humour from cunningly avoiding the expected words --

There once was a lady from Bude
Who went swimming one day in the lake.
A man in a punt
Stuck his pole in the water
And said "You can't swim here -- it's private."
Verses in limerick form are sometimes combined with a refrain to form a limerick song, a traditional humorous drinking song often with obscene verses.

If anyone wishes to add to to this to simplify the limericks I would be pleased to hear from you. 
« Last Edit: November 02, 2007, 06:15:37 AM by Lin »