Limericks are humorous poems consisting of five anapestic lines and two rhymes; the first, second, and fifth line contain 7-10 syllables and rhyme, and the third and fourth lines contain 5-7 syllable and rhyme.


While the name originates from the Irish town of Limerick where they served as the chorus in tavern songs belted out by drunken men and containing naughty lyrics, some of the most famous of these poems were written for children.  In 1846, Edward Lear published 72 limericks in his Book of Nonsense.


Here are two of my favorites from Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense:


There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, 'It is just as I feared!

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard!'


There was an Old Person whose habits,

Induced him to feed upon rabbits;

When he'd eaten eighteen,

He turned perfectly green,

Upon which he relinquished those habits.


But make no mistake, these witty poems are not just for children or the inebriated.  Many famous writers, like Mark Twain, T.S. Eliot, Rudyard Kipling, H.G. Wells, and Ogden Nash have penned limericks.  Some even suggest that William Shakespeare included a couple in a few of his plays like Othello, King Lear, and Hamlet.  While most agree that the Bard’s limericks don’t fit modern expectations of this poetic form, technically, they do qualify.  Here’s two for you to consider:


From Shakespeare's Othello, Act II Scene III

"And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier's a man;
A life's but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink."

From Shakespeare's King Lear, Act III Scene IV

Swithold footed thrice the old;
He met the night-mare, and her nine-fold;
Bid her alight,
And her troth plight,
And, aroint thee, witch, aroint thee!


Now, here are a few new limericks:


January 2014


“Sorry Teachers”

by Giselle Ates


There once was a teacher called Sorry,

Who was always in such hurry,

But she relished a test

Since it gave her a rest

Though it made all her students worry.



by Elijah (5th grade)


In the yard lived a troublesome dog

Who destroyed everything that he saw

And announced, “Why it’s night,

That’s the time when I bite”

And stretched himself out to go gnaw.


“Lick, Lick, Limerick”

by Miryam Gabriel (11th grade)


There once was a boy with a chapstick,

Who licked it until he was quite sick.

His mother cried, “Rude!

That stuff's not a food!”

So the dim lad switched to a lipstick.


"The Misfortune of a Bald Man"

by Marshall Jones (10th grade)


There once lived a brat who climbed trees

And discovered a nest full of bees

Then a bald man walked by

Who caught the brat’s eye,

And his suffering made the brat pleased.


"The Silly Giraffe"

by Parker Stockett (10th grade)


There once lived a giraffe who bestowed

The good looks that he always showed

He proclaimed, "Look at me!

I'm so high I can see!"

And fell flat on his face on the road.


October 2008



"Hannah’s Limerick" by Hannah Brittingham


There once was a girl named Hannah

She always wore a bandana

She found a light

That was oh so bright

Then she went to Taco Cabana


"Limerick" by Delaney Brittingham


There once was a girl from Spain

Who liked it to rain and rain

For when it was sunny

She could not make money

Then she had nothing to gain


"The Bird That Sang" by Lauren Ingham                                                                                          

There once was a bird that was free                                

To sing all day long in a tree

Too bad for the bird

For he had been heard,

The bird that had sung had to flee.                 


"The Girl with the Lute" by Lauren Ingham                                                                   

There once was a girl who was cute

And loved to go play on her lute

But something has happened to her

That set her to be a moper

For she cannot play anymore on the lute.


"The Warrior of Sound" by Josh Johnson


Behold the warrior of sound

Chasing rifts like a hound

His guitar he picks

The air he kicks

The melody he has found.


"Do Not Come Back" by Ben Johnson


I read a poem by Ben

It had to do with a hen

The hen flew up high

Up in the sky

Never to come back again.


"Cat and Bird" by Matthew Watts

There was a young cat with orange fur.

He sat on a log with a bird.

He jumped like a lion

And instead he went flyin’

And scared off the frightened old bird.


"The Girl with a Heart"

by Taylor Novosad


There once was a young girl with a heart,

Who had friends and couldn’t be apart.

She prayed for them each day,

And helped them in anyway,

Because she had Jesus in her heart.


"Zebras" by Aly Samsel


Zebras are so fun and cool

But thinking their tame you’re a fool

For when trying to ride

You’ll end up on your side

Or rather in a small muddy pool    


"Luna" by Aly Samsel                


O the luna has flown away

Not to be seen again today

She eats sweet gum leaves

And her greatest pet peeve

Is to mess up her bright green array


"Lions" by Aly Samsel


Lions are awesome and fun

They love to lie in the sun

They like to eat meat

From the wild beast

They fear not man or gun


"Lucky Ducky" by Aly Samsel         


There was an old man from Spain

Who said it’s really quite plain

I’ve run out of luck

For two hens and a duck 

On my shirt have each made a stain


"Chameleon" by Aly Samel


There once was a little chameleon

Who played with balloons of helium                  

Because he was hearty

He threw a big party       

And gave out presents a million   


"A Girl" by Roger Samsel                


There once was a girl from North Porter

To bed she was given an order

I sent her to dream

She thought I was mean

But never the less I adored her