Monday, May 12, 2008

Happy Limerick Day!

Today, May 12, is Limerick Day, in honor of the birth of Edward Lear, the man who popularized the limerick poem with his own self-illustrated collection, the Book of Nonsense (1846). Limericks for adults are often bawdy verses or songs, but limericks for children are usually just humorous or even outrageous story-poems. There are several teaching resources available on the topic of writing limericks with kids including Poetry-online and Giggle Poetry.

Here are a few, fun original limericks by master punster, J. Patrick Lewis in honor of the day. Enjoy!

Limb-ericks: Hip Verses
All by J. Patrick Lewis
(used with permission)

The Skin

Now a snake who’s about to begin

Climbing out of his ugly old skin

Has the grin of a winner—

It’s “in” to be inner

And out of the outer he’s in.


The Hump

In the desert a camel was minus

A passenger, His Royal Highness.

The King loved the humps

But the bumpety-bumps

Left him down in the dumps and the dryness.


The Nose

The bat clings to the ceiling above,

Wrapped in wings like a hand in a glove,

Too afraid to expose

To his neighbors a nose

That only a mother could love.

The Neck

According to Good Gnus Reporter,

The Giraffe used to be a lot shorter

Till a bird in the trees

Said, “Get up off your knees!”
Said Giraffe, “That’s a very tall order.”

The Arm

To an Octopus luncheon for nine,

The comrades-in-arms come to dine.

But when hugging each other—

What suckers, oh brother!—

They look like a great ball of twine.


The Antler

The Moose suffers pain and distress

If a hat is hung on his headdress.

His horns were intended

For something more splendid—

But what it is no one can guess!


Note: The limericks are forthcoming in J. Patrick Lewis's Countdown to Summer: A Poem for Every Day of the School Year, Little, Brown, (Spring 2009). I can’t wait to see this book! I’ve been working on my own project matching poems to events for each day of the year, so this should be a terrific resource. A similar approach is the fantastic, Days to Celebrate: A Full Year of Poetry, People, Holidays, History, Fascinating Facts, and More by Lee Bennett Hopkins (New York: Greenwillow, 2005).

For more limericks, there’s always Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense, of course, plus these gems:
Ciardi, John. 1992. The Hopeful Trout and Other Limericks. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Kennedy, X.J. 1997. Uncle Switch: Loony Limericks. New York: Margaret K. McElderry.

For a wonderful poem tribute to Lear himself, check out:
Lewis, J. Patrick. 1998. Boshblobberbosh; Runcible Poems for Edward Lear. Mankato: Creative Editions; San Diego: Harcourt.

Picture credit: www.dkimages.com

1 comment:

laurasalas said...

Love these, Sylvia. Thanks for sharing! My favorite is the octopus one...what a terrific image.

Can't wait to see both your and Pat's "poem every day" books.