A LIMERICK is a poem, often very funny, composed of five lines.
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
*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 is established in poetry by meter, or the way the stress patterns falls on word syllables. There are two established rhythms in the limerick:
- Lines 1, 2 and 5 contain 7 to 10 syllables that follow the stress pattern da-DA da-da-DA da-da-DA.
- 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 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.
- 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)
- a 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 punchline. There 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- You want establish your main character’s situation in line two.
- 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.
- 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.