There was a young girl from Uttoxeter...

by Mary Jackson (Originally published June 2006)
 
 
If you can guess the rest, you don’t need me to tell you. If you can’t, you will be offended, so it’s best I don’t.
 
What is a limerick?

 

Limericks are a type of light verse, usually consisting of five anapaestic lines rhyming aabba, the a-lines being trimeters, the b-lines dimeters.

 

A better answer is that a limerick is a poem like this:

 

The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

 

You can’t write a proper limerick about Limerick. Turmeric? Gymrek? So Limerick folks can dish it out to all those capacious actresses from Crewe, asymmetrical men from Devizes and unspeakably naughty Bishops of Birmingham, knowing that none of them can get his own back. It could well be, incidentally, that there are no more limericks in Limerick than there are nuns in Covent Garden or shepherds – or bushes - in Shepherd’s Bush. (Pratts Bottom is an exception on both counts.)

 

Limericks were popularised by Edward Lear, although his were not called limericks at the time. They were dull:

There was an old person of Dean
Who dined on one pea, and one bean;
 For he said, "More than that
 Would make me too fat,"
That cautious old person of Dean.

I realise that the last line is not meant to be a punch line, and that the repetition is deliberate, but it is still dull. As is this one:

 

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a Bee;
When they said, 'Does it buzz?'
He replied, 'Yes, it does!'
'It's a regular brute of a Bee!'

 

The latter was parodied in "A Nonsense Rhyme in Blank Verse", attributed to W. S. Gilbert: 

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "No, it does n't,
But I thought all the while 't was a Hornet!"

The rigid rules of meter, length and rhyme make the limerick form easy to subvert.

Rhythm isn’t everything, as that actress said to that Bishop, somewhere between Crewe and Birmingham:

There was a young man of Japan
Whose verses never would scan.
When they said, “But the thing
Doesn’t go with a swing,
He replied, “No, but I try to get as many words into the last line as I possibly can!”

 

“Nor is length,” squealed the girl from Uttoxeter, “At least not from where I’m sitting.”

 

There once was a man from Peru
Whose limericks stopped at line two.

 

And as for rhyme, for avoidance of smutty innuendo, it is best to pull out at the last minute:

 

There was a young lady from Bude
Who went for a swim in the lake
A man in a punt
Stuck an oar in her ear
And said "You can't swim here, it's private."

 

It is fun to break the rules, but my two favourite limericks obey them. One has already seen the light of day in a blog post, but it deserves another outing:

There was a young fellow named Menzies
Whose kisses drove girls into frenzies
A virgin one night
Crossed her legs in a fright
And fractured his bi-focal lenses

 

Hardly anybody seems to know this one. Its strength lies in the fact that you really don’t know what’s coming until the last minute. And nor did young Menzies. The first two lines are funny anyway, even without this final twist (ouch).

 

My second is better known. The third and fourth lines are without equal:

 

While Titian was mixing rose madder
His model reclined on a ladder
Her position to Titian
Suggested coition
So he leapt up the ladder and had ‘er


To comment on this article, click here.

To help New English Review continue to publish saucy diversions such as this one, please click here. 

If you have enjoyed this article, and would like to read other articles by Mary Jackson, click here.

Mary Jackson contributes regularly to The Iconoclast, our Community Blog. Click here to see all her contributions, on which comments are welcome.

Available on Amazon US
and Amazon UK


Available on Amazon
and Amazon UK.


Amazon donates to World Encounter Institute Inc when you shop at smile.amazon.com/ch/56-2572448. #AmazonSmile #StartWithaSmile

Subscribe

Categories

Adam Selene (1) A.J. Caschetta (6) Alexander Murinson (1) Andrew Harrod (2) Bat Ye'or (6) Brex I Teer (7) Brian of London (32) Christina McIntosh (861) Christopher DeGroot (2) Conrad Black (418) Daniel Mallock (4) David P. Gontar (7) David Solway (78) David Wemyss (1) Dexter Van Zile (74) Dr. Michael Welner (3) Emmet Scott (1) Eric Rozenman (3) Esmerelda Weatherwax (9317) Fergus Downie (1) Fred Leder (1) Friedrich Hansen (7) G. Murphy Donovan (59) Gary Fouse (117) Geert Wilders (13) Geoffrey Botkin (1) Geoffrey Clarfield (319) Hannah Rubenstein (3) Hossein Khorram (2) Hugh Fitzgerald (20795) Ibn Warraq (10) Ilana Freedman (2) James Como (17) James Robbins (1) James Stevens Curl (2) Janice Fiamengo (1) Jerry Gordon (2504) Jerry Gordon and Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah (1) Jesse Sandoval (1) John Constantine (119) John Hajjar (5) John M. Joyce (388) Jonathan Ferguson (1) Jonathan Hausman (4) Joseph S. Spoerl (10) Kenneth Lasson (1) Kenneth Timmerman (25) Lorna Salzman (9) Louis Rene Beres (37) Marc Epstein (7) Mark Anthony Signorelli (11) Mark Durie (7) Mary Jackson (5066) Matthew Hausman (39) Michael Curtis (539) Michael Rechtenwald (2) Mordechai Nisan (2) Moshe Dann (1) NER (2586) New English Review Press (22) Nidra Poller (73) Nonie Darwish (5) Norman Berdichevsky (86) Paul Weston (5) Paula Boddington (1) Peter McLoughlin (1) Philip Blake (1) Phyllis Chesler (45) Rebecca Bynum (7165) Richard Butrick (24) Richard Kostelanetz (16) Richard L. Benkin (21) Richard L. Cravatts (7) Richard L. Rubenstein (44) Robert Harris (84) Sally Ross (37) Sam Bluefarb (1) Sha’i ben-Tekoa (1) Springtime for Snowflakes (4) Stephen Schecter (1) Steve Hecht (25) Ted Belman (8) The Law (90) Theodore Dalrymple (823) Thomas J. Scheff (6) Thomas Ország-Land (3) Tom Harb (3) Walid Phares (29) Winfield Myers (1) z - all below inactive (7) z - Ares Demertzis (2) z - Andrew Bostom (74) z - Andy McCarthy (536) z - Artemis Gordon Glidden (881) z - DL Adams (21) z - John Derbyshire (1013) z - Marisol Seibold (26) z - Mark Butterworth (49) z- Robert Bove (1189) zz - Ali Sina (2)
clear
Site Archive