Daily prompt: Limericks

Daily Prompt

Teach Your (Bloggers) Well

We all know how to do something well — write a post that teaches readers how to do something you know and/or love to do.

 I’m going to have a little rant because I can, and because I had to roll my sorry self out of bed at an unconscionably early hour this morning to get my car where it had to go for its service and rego check so I’m well in the mood for ranting.

I’ve been looking for a limerick competition to enter. I like writing limericks and I can roll them out like a rug (talk about useless abilities!) but cackling away to yourself in an empty room palls after a while, so I thought I’d put a couple out there just for fun. But please note: I haven’t done it yet, so this isn’t sour grapes as in I tried and didn’t win.

What I discovered instead is that the limerick has become yet another casualty of the ‘near enough’s good enough’ plague infecting modern English usage. Either nobody can actually write one anymore, or the judges of past competitions were ignorant of what constitutes a proper limerick. Is nothing sacred?

Yes, I know I’m picky, but what’s the use of asking for a verse form called ‘limerick’ and then giving first prize to something that isn’t? Because limericks have very specific rules. Here’s what Wikipedia says:

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 anapaest, (ta-ta-TUM), but 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).

 And if Wikipedia can get it down pat, what excuse is there?

Now I’m not necessarily expecting people to know the names of the metric feet (although judges with lots of letters after their names and claims to infinite linguistic brilliance damn well should) but surely it’s not too much to ask them to get the ta-ta-TUMs right.

Sometimes I despair.

There once was a limerick judge
Whose skills were like undercooked fudge:
So sloppy they slithered
And quivered and dithered
And bent at the veriest nudge.


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16 Responses to Daily prompt: Limericks

  1. I get it. My mother was very big on limericks. And you are right. They are highly specific.

    There once was a lady from Rome.
    Who went to the dentist alone.
    In a fit of depravity
    He filled the wrong cavity
    Oh my, but his practice has grown.

    With love, from my mom.

  2. lifelessons says:

    I’m so relieved your limericks scan!!! It sets my teeth on edge when people do not maintain the meter! You can’t take the rules out of the English teacher, no matter how long retired!!!

  3. Fran Macilvey says:

    What fun! Thank you.

    A limerick’s something else, if it’s not
    And what others say I don’t care a jot
    For limericking’s fun
    As long as it’s done
    The way that we all know it aught! 🙂 (Will that do?)

  4. Monicle says:

    I’ve always been proud of this one;

    There once was a man from West Allis
    who liked to drink blood from a chalice.
    But he didn’t think
    the bodies would stink
    and his neighbours would treat him with malice.

  5. rogershipp says:

    “Yes, I know I’m picky, but what’s the use of asking for a verse form called ‘limerick’ and then giving first prize to something that isn’t?” You are preachin’ to the choir!!! Don’t you hate it when they don’t follow their own rules!!!

  6. Love it, love it, LOVE IT!!!

  7. There once was a limerick writer
    Who thought he was smart but should have been brighter.
    He consider it sweet
    To add a few extra feet
    He knew Helen and what would ignite her.

    There is a limerick contest for a cash prize. Go to OurWorldDickHarrison.com > Books & Writers > LimRiddles Revisited

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