The Art of Constructing a Limerick

notes from building a limerick

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Back in August 2012, I was talking to someone about her bike. Naturally, one word led to another and I heard the beats, la di da di da da da, something something. I scrawled in my notebook the beginnings of a limerick. But while I’m proficient at constructing haiku with the correct syllablage, if not sentiment, I realized I didn’t know much about limericks. Of course, the Wikipedia is quick to oblige:

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).

Furthermore:

From a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.

Awesome.

Tonight, I tweaked the first two lines and called it done. I give you:

Once a Seattle woman named Claire
Put a wood seat on her bike Pierre.

On every trip, she sighed.
‘Twas a pleasure to ride

A hard peter up her derriere.

For your amusement, you may look at my notes (i.e., the art) from those days trying to construct it above.

Feel free to share your favourite limericks in the comments.

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