Monday, March 16, 2009

St. Patrick's Day & Limericks: A Wee Bit O' the Wordplay

Even as a kid, I loved limericks. I think I first learned of them when I read Scott Corbett's book, The Limerick Trick. Their predictable rhyme, kooky humor and telling tales have lots of kid appeal; and whenever St. Patrick's Day comes around, limericks come to mind (not that they have a connection with St. Patrick--it's just their connection to Ireland).

Here's what Wikipedia says about the origin of limericks: The origin of the actual name limerick for this type of poem is obscure. Its usage was first documented in England in 1898 (New English Dictionary) and in America in 1902. It is generally taken to be a reference to the County of Limerick in Ireland (particularly the Maigue Poets), and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that ended "Come all the way up to Limerick?"

But it was Edward Lear's Book of Nonsense that launched limericks into poetry popularity. He wrote over two hundred, but here are two of my favorites, plus an attempt of my own.

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 Man of Kilkenny,
Who never had more than a penny;
He spent all that money,
In onions and honey,
That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.

There once was a writer named Terry,
Who had a great passion for berries,
She wrote up a story,
Of blackberry glory,
A sweet pick for any library.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


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