Poetry – How to write a Limerick

A LIMERICK is a poem, often very funny, composed of five lines.

Limericks make you smart!

Limericks make you smart!

Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme. Lines 3 and 4 rhyme.

Limericks need to rhyme in the pattern – AABBA

Each line has a specific number of syllables, usually –

88558 or 99669

HOMEWORK:

*Write your own limerick tonight and post it in the comments of this blog post by tomorrow, Tuesday 4/24/11.

Click to learn about  Syllable rules.

Fill in the blanks to create a quick and easy limerick for practice.  See how easy it is?

There once was a peasant named Meg,

Who accidentally broke her  __________.

She slipped on the __________.

Not once but thrice

Take no pity on her, I __________.

Step 1: Rhythm and Rhyme

  • The limerick has a very distinct set of rules it follows for both rhythm and rhyme. With only five lines to work with in the entire poem, such a rule can make for difficult word maneuvering.

Rhythm

  1. Lines 1, 2 and 5 contain 7 to 10 syllables that follow the stress pattern da-DA da-da-DA da-da-DA.
  2. Lines 3 and 4 contain between 5 to 7 syllables each and follow a da-DA da-da-DA stress pattern.

TIP: You can drum out the meter on your desktop if it helps!

Rhyme

  • Rhyme is a fun way to make a poem sound catchy. In the limerick it also offers a sing-song quality to the words. The overall rhyme pattern will be AABBA.
  1. Lines 1, 2 and 5 share an end rhyme.
  2. Lines 3 and 4 share an end rhyme.
  • When you put the rhythm and rhyme together, it’ll look a little something like this:
  • There WAS an old MAN down in PRAGUE (A)
  • whose WIFE ran aWAY with a DOG. (A)
  • He CRIED all night AND day, (B)
  • PAthetic DISplay, (B)
  • while DROWNing himSELF in the GROG. (A)
  • Note that the stressed syllables are bold and in all capitals. You can hear the way it sounds when you read it out loud. The rhyme pattern has been added in parenthesis at the end of each line, and as you read over it you can hear it as well.

Step 2: Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes Why?

  • The neat thing about limericks is that they tell a story about someone. It may not always be a pleasant story, but the over-dramatized misery or extremity of the situation is often part of what makes the limerick funny. In essence, writing a limerick rhyme by rhyme is like setting a joke up for its punchlineThere once was a man down in Prague whose wife ran away with a dog… You know this absurd scenario has to end badly, but it’s so outlandish you can’t help but laugh.
  • Before you begin writing your limerick, you’ll want to take some time to figure out a couple of important factors. You only have five lines in which to tell this story, so let’s break it down line by line.
  1. In the first line you’ll want to introduce your main character and setting. In the example poem we have a man down in Prague. Remember the more zany the setting, the funnier the limerick will be.
  2. Come up with a list of words that rhyme with your end word in line one. Our situation was that his wife ran away with a dog.
  3. You want establish your main character’s situation in line two.
  4. Line three and four are the perfect place to show how the character’s situation went out of control. Our poor man was crying and making a real pathetic display of things.
  5. Line five is the punchline! This is where you resolve the story and bring it to a close. The man couldn’t cope with it, so he fell into a bottle.

36 thoughts on “Poetry – How to write a Limerick

  1. This limerick is from Eric, our Red limerick master.

    There once was a block of ice
    That tasted alot like rice
    It fell off the table
    And into the stable
    And crushed the little white mice

  2. There was a kid that was dumb,
    all he did was drink bottles of rum.
    He didn’t learn at school,
    he thought he was so cool.
    Now he’s grown up, he’s a bum!

  3. There once was a girl who liked fashion
    It was one of her favorite passions
    She went to the mall
    Had a great big fall
    And sent all the clothes racks crashin’

  4. There once was a cat named Daisy
    Who turned out to be quite crazy
    Ate tuna and fish
    Then she got her wish
    For she now is fat and lazy

  5. Catherine was the name of a gal,
    She did not have many close pals,
    She felt trapped in her home,
    Almost always alone,
    When will she fly free like an owl?

  6. Deep down I dearly love my sister
    Although sometimes she is a blister
    She makes steam come out my ears
    And sometimes even tears
    She is a devil in her young years

  7. Hey Mr.Cole Here is my limerick

    There once was a boy with a goat
    Who lived very near by a moat
    He tumbled and fell
    Into a deep well
    And unfortunately couldn’t float

  8. There once was a toast named Minjae
    And Michael shot him with a death ray
    Minjae burnt into flames
    Though it is Zo he blames
    I made a cool sculpture out of clay

  9. A Swan and Her Lawn

    I’ll tell you a fun story
    my story is not gory
    there once was swan
    who mowed her own lawn
    the nice swan’s name was Tory

  10. There once was a guy named Bieber,
    He gave lots of girls his fever,
    He always did the hair flip,
    And also called the hair whip,
    With lots of fans called beliebers.

  11. Gay Couples

    There once was a girl named Bob
    She dated a girl named Rob
    People called them gay
    So they madly say,
    “Shut up, you’re making us sob!”

  12. The flying penguins
    3AC

    Lachlan is a wonderful guy
    That guy was almost never shy
    Lachlan was a very good friend
    Almost never seemed out of trend
    He was honest and never lied

  13. The Man Named Tim

    There was once a father named Kirk
    Who wielded a black, deadly, dirk
    With his scary might
    He killed kids all night
    Until the day he went berserk

  14. Old John the Penguin

    There once was a penguin called Old John
    He was best friends with a young fawn
    They played cards in the shade
    And forever they played
    Until Old John died one day at dawn

  15. There once was a dude named Crude
    Whose words were extremely rude
    Batted his mother
    Sat on his brother
    Except now he had no food

    (his muma cant cook anymore cos rude crude batted her off a cliff)

  16. Old Rye the Klutzy Fry

    There once was a man called Old Rye
    He’s a wrinkled, elderly guy
    When he took a jog
    He tripped on a log
    And now he is called “Klutzy Fry”

  17. Bob

    There once was a servant called Bob,
    Who once had earned a paid job,
    You want to know why?
    Because he was very sly,
    And he died cause of a mob.

  18. Ebaisha, the Pizza Lover

    There once was a girl called Elisa
    She really loved to eat ham pizza
    When she went to the store
    She always asked for more
    Until her name became Louisa

  19. The old man

    There once was an old man from France,
    Who spent all his time in dance.
    He would dance day and night,
    But was such a terrible site,
    That nobody gave him a glance.

  20. There was once was a man named Bob
    Who broke his hand on a door knob
    He wished he was rich
    But lived in a ditch
    For he couldn’t find a good job

  21. The Pig

    There once was a pig named Kyle.
    He enjoyed running the mile.
    He loves to eat wood.
    Pig food is no good.
    He wants a human lifestyle.

  22. There once was a dog named Little Lap,
    Who wore a special kind of red cap.
    He finds a tasty bone,
    But see where it is thrown,
    In the pool, so you can’t use a map

    I don’t think it is funny

  23. There once was a girl who had get
    A little dog, all dirty and met
    He shook out his soaked coat
    Which tainted her tote
    Switch 1, 2, 5, see what you wet

    TAHWS= WHATs 😀

  24. There once was a boy who has a toy
    A toy was look like a little boy
    So he thew that to the store
    And this is the time ignore
    This is the time he hate soy

  25. Cody Simpson The Singer

    There once was a guy named Cody
    Who always liked to watch Moby
    He made a bad song
    Now he is a gong
    I think he just sucks at singing.

  26. There was once a food called a fry,
    Which got like eaten by a guy.
    But Evelyn is a girl,
    And she really liked the curl
    of the fry which for she would cry.

    O.o

    XD

  27. There once was a long trial of ants,
    They were all wearing cargo pants,
    They went to a ball,
    And sang in the hall,
    And then did a fun little dance

  28. Bob, Who Wasn’t as Good as Rob
    3AC
    Flying Penguins
    There was once a boy who was named bob
    Whenever he pitched it was a lob
    One day he was called dolt
    He was not quite the bolt
    He will never be as good as rob

  29. The Song in Drama

    In drama we are singing a song
    Its measure does not go with a gong
    The fact that it’s Broadway
    And not going my way
    Definitely not a sing-a-long

    Lena
    There once was a strange girl named Lena
    Likes owls, like a mortal Athena
    Thing is, she hates all mice
    But maybe she likes rice
    Laughing like a happy hyena

  30. The women

    There was once a women named Jill,
    All she wanted was dollar bills,
    Once she tried to rob
    a rich, named bob
    But she ended up in Brazil

  31. Knights and Their Gold

    I once knew a few very brave knights
    They triumphed in all of their many fights
    They had huge stacks of gold
    To hold them ‘till they’re old
    Until a thief stabbed them in the night

  32. Mace

    There once was a girl named Mace
    Who went to a running race
    She tripped and fell
    rolled to a well
    never again she wore a shoe lace

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