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Limerick Day, May 12, 2013

Happy Limerick Day 2014! Limerick Day is celebrated on May 12 each year and commemorates the birthday of Edward Lear (1812-1888), whose verses helped to popularize the form. I have not been able to establish the precise origin of Limerick Day, but it seems to have been well established by 1979, when "Mr. Lear's Limerick Day" was included in the Kids' Diary of 365 Amazing Days.

Here are some of my favorite classic limericks, followed by a selection from the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form, and then some that I wrote myself:

There once was an old man of Lyme.
Who married three wives at a time;
When asked, "Why a third?"
He replied, "One's absurd!
And bigamy, sir, is a crime."
William Cosmo Monkhouse


A wise man exploring the Nile
Said, "The Sphinx is no doubt all the style,
But yonder there be
Other ruins, I see,
And I'll peer amid those for a while.”


A major, with wonderful force,
Called out in Hyde Park for a horse.
All the flowers looked round,
But no horse could be found;
So he just rhododendron, of course.


A cheery old fellow named White
Came home at eleven one night,
And his wife said, “Please state
Why you've been out so late,
But first take the Book in your right.”


There was a young man from the city,
Who saw what he thought was a kitty.
To make sure of that,
He gave it a pat.
They buried his clothes, what a pity!


A pastor who came from Daytona
Tried each type of cheese in Verona,
But the pain 'neath his belt
Was so great that he felt
That he pitied the whale more than Jonah.


There was an old woman of Niger
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride
With the woman inside
And the smile on the face of the tiger.


There were three little birds in a wood,
Who always sang hymns when they could.
What the words were about
They could never make out,
But they felt they were doing some good.


There once was a lady from Guam,
Who said, "Now the sea is so calm
I will swim, for a lark";
But she met with a shark.
Let us now sing the ninetieth psalm.


There once was a wonderful ape,
Who gave up his skin for a cape.
Now he swings in the trees,
All exposed to the breeze,
Which leaves him in very bad shape.


There was a young man so benighted,
He never knew when he was slighted;
He would go to a party,
And eat just as hearty,
As if he'd been really invited.


There was a young urchin of Wye,
Who when asked, "Could he eat a mince pie?"
Simply nodded his head,
As he artlessly said,
"Bring out all wot you've got an' I'll try!"


There once was a lady named Hunt,
The same shape behind and in front;
You hardly knew where
To offer a chair,
So the floor often got the full brunt.


There was an old man in a hearse,
Who murmured, "This might have been worse;
Of course the expense
Is simply immense,
But it doesn't come out of my purse."


There was a young lady named Maud,
Who at meals was a terrible fraud.
She never was able
To eat at the table,
But out in the pantry Oh, Lord!


Here lies a young maid named Alexis,
Who angered a mule down in Texis;
The mule in the fight
First led with his right,
Then put in his left on the plexis!


An amoeba, named Sam, and his brother
Were having a drink with each other;
In the midst of their quaffing,
They split themselves laughing,
And each of them now is a mother.


Our vicar is good Mr. Inge.
One evening he offered to sing.
So we asked him to stoop,
Put his head in a loop,
And pulled at each end of the string.


A cannibal bold of Penzance
Ate an uncle and two of his aunts,
A cow and her calf,
An ox and a half,
And now he can't button his pants.


Some amateur players most brave,
A performance of Hamlet once gave.
Said a wag, "Now let's see
If it's Oxford or he --
I mean Shakespeare -- who's turned in his grave."


Some limericks from the Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form (OEDILF):

At canneries, tanneries, millers,
And granaries, whisky distillers,
And artisans' galleries,
Earning large salaries:
Affable serial killers.
affable by mephistopheles


When an atom was queried today
If she'd suffered a beta decay,
Her response was demure,
So I asked, "Are you sure?"
She was positive. What can I say?
beta decay by mike scholtes (mike scholtes)


She's a censual woman, it's true.
On a date, what she'd most like to do
Is to go door to door
Asking questions galore:
"What's your name? Are there children? Who's who?"
censual by Chris J. Strolin


A wristwatch that melts into jelly.
A bagel and lox on a telly.
A daub of cream cheese
On a nude woman's knees.
It's a painting by Salvador Deli!
deli by Chris Doyle (Chris Doyle)


From her balcony, Juliet hissed,
"Hey, Montague, dammit, I'm pissed!
Though our stars may be crossed,
Art thou totally lost?
And just how many cues hast thou missed?!"
balcony by Jacqui Brown (Jacqueline Brown)


My advice? Pull the plug. Don't delay.
Face the facts. Call it off. Walk away.
Go for broke. Take pot luck.
Play it cool. Pass the buck.
Go to hell. Take a hike. Make my day.
advice by Roger Dunn (Roger Dunn)


In London, a man from Siam
Learned English while riding a tram
And practiced "to be"s
Asking "Who's Siamese?"
"He isn't, you aren't, I am."
am by SheilaB (Sheila B. Blume)


The Bible's a choice compilation
Of tales for our edification.
Our lessons begin
With original sin,
And progress to eternal damnation.
Bible by Recumbentman (Andrew Robinson)


When his friends call him backward, Jon sneers:
"I am very advanced in some spheres.
With my jigsaw techniques,
I can do in six weeks
Puzzles clearly marked '2-4 years'."
advanced by David

For the truth about Jonathon see the companion backward verse.

It's essential to learn from mistakes
And to not place the blame on bad breaks.
If you curse lousy luck
Or try passing the buck,
Run for office. You have what it takes!
break by Mad Kane (Madeleine Begun Kane)


From the fusty Victorian gloom
The bright 'Bloomsberries' let themselves bloom.
Their artistic affairs
Moved in circles round squares
(I forget though just who slept with whom).
Bloomsbury by Thomas Taylor


Wipe your tears, little darling, don't cry;
All pet rabbits eventually die.
Though his body is spent,
Rest assured his soul went
To that hutch in the sky. (Mmm, mmm—pie.)
die by speedysnail (Rory Ewins)


Way up high, in the cold Himalaya,
The abominable snowman's a playa.
You may see only tracks,
Yeti often attacks.
Himalayan in wait; say a praya.
abominable snowman by Howard Spindel (Howard Spindel)


There once was a clerical gent
Of an archidiaconal bent.
He used to give sermons
To a parish of Germans,
But he never found out what they meant.
archidiaconal by Jeff Russell


"Do it now, ere that dark day arrives.
He is waiting to enter your lives.
If you'll give Him your all
At this last altar call
There's a free set of stainless steel knives."
altar call by Virge (Virgil Keys)


There once was a thief with a name
And an alias. Both were the same.
When the cops asked him why,
He replied with a sigh,
"So you wouldn't know which one to blame."
alias by Dr. Alphabet


Straight into the night she did ride,
On Arabian steed, full astride!
To bring back her man
Was her straightforward plan.
The dishes, now washed, would be dried!
Arabian by man from tashkent


As a camel, I'm often in awe
That our humps cause a vertebral flaw,
And create a fragility
And vulnerability
To the backbreaking power of straw.
backbreaking by Ulfras (Ulfras)


He is so apathetic, our Dwight,
Bullies can't ever goad him to fight.
He explains to each friend,
"It's not me they offend —
When my mum's called a whore, I say 'Quite.'"
apathetic by David



Some of my own limericks:

A lover lamenting his fate
Once lept from the Empire State
Due to heartless young Pam.
She did not give a damn,
But her brothers both thought it was great.
Graham Lester


I've no fear of the mean streets of Skokie —
I'm adept at concealed karaoke:
If I'm under attack,
There's a switch that I whack —
Then it blares out a loud "Hokey Pokey".
Graham Lester


There are three thousand girls in distress
In a basement at USPS,
Where the postmaster hides
All the mail-order brides
That were lacking a proper address.
Graham Lester


There once was a glass of red wine
That mused, "Why must mortal men dine?
When we glasses are smashed,
Are our dreams simply dashed?
Are we raised again in the divine?"
Graham Lester


We think seventy-three virgins a must
When it comes to rewarding the Just,
But that rascal next door
Says it’s seventy-four--
What a shocking example of lust!
Graham Lester


I'm delighted to say that I've mastered
The appropriate usage of "bastard":
It's a person who's bred
By a pair who weren't wed,
But were too much in love—or too plastered.
Graham Lester


There was once a black widow named Janet
Who buried twelve husbands in granite.
When they asked how she pled,
She just giggled and said:
“Well, it can’t be coincidence, can it?”
Graham Lester


There was a young lady of Clapham
Who had too many kids and would slap ‘em,
Till the council said, “Cease!”
Now she calls the police
And they come round with tazers and zap ‘em.
Graham Lester


An inscrutable lady named Fong
Would constantly bang on a gong.
Said her doctor, “I find
You’ve an unbalanced mind—
You should strive for more ding and less dong.”
Graham Lester


There once was a baby named Sam
Who would never be good for his mam:
His screams were so loud
That he’d draw a small crowd,
Then he sold them cigars from his pram.
Graham Lester

The limericks by other writers are the copyrighted property of the authors. The limericks marked as written by me that I have posted here may be reposted on your web page as long as you clearly credit me – Graham Lester – as the author. I believe that the limericks that have no name attached to them are in the public domain.

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