The twelfth of May is Limerick Day, a “real holiday” (because the interweb says so!). The day honours the famed English author and illustrator Edward Lear, who popularised limericks in his opus magnum A Book of Nonsense (1846). Lear’s most recognised work is not a limerick but rather the nonsensical poem The Owl and the Pussycat. [Listen to it on Storynory.]
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced in the light of the moon,
They danced in the light of the moon.
*Sigh…* If that’s an example of what limerick writing can do for one’s lyricism, I say let’s write more limericks. Lear’s delightful turns of phrase birthed his own brand of neologisms. Runcible, for example, was adopted into general use (though no one seems to know what it means).
Traditionally, limericks were a popular form of witticism that veered towards lewdness, with the simple AABBA form lending itself to rhythmic silliness. Edward Lear steered clear of bawdy themes, choosing instead to defy his readers’ expectations. On an interesting side note, for a supposedly “silly guy,” Edward Lear weathered an unfair share of unhappiness. One of twenty-one siblings, he was sickly all his life, suffered long bouts of melancholia (which he dubbed “The Morbids”), and experienced some soul-crushing knock-backs in the romance department.
Grist for the limerick mill?
A Toast to Edward Lear!
Here’s to the doomed lover, lost creative soul, and weaver of eternal word-spells. In his honour, I’m going to publish my feeble limerick attempts here. I’m not too proud to have a go, but I think I’ll leave the bawdiness to be tackled by someone else (someone who’s not aspiring to sell books to children).
Here’s a limerick of mine that’s suitable for the kiddies:
An owlet was learning to hoot
But all she could do was say Toot!
Her ma was dismayed
At the thing she had laid
But forgave her because she was cute
And here’s a lame limerick on blogging:
The Blogger’s Creed by Ali Stegert
You may ask what keeps me a-bloggin’
When my stats are taking a floggin’
It’s so I’ll be read
Before I drop dead
‘Cause then there’ll be naught in my noggin
Over to You
Go on! See if you can come up with a couple of your own runcible limericks, and don’t be shy! Share them in the comments below. I hope my friends in Facebookland will join in after our fun discussion about nought versus naught. Fingers crossed!
A Book of Nonsense: Public Domain, sourced on Wikipedia
OwlPussycat: Public Domain, sourced on Wikipedia