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)
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.
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 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.
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.”
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 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