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BellaOnline's Creativity Editor


Limericks have many uses

Guest Author - Susan Alison

Limerick poetry is another fine tool to boost your creativity. It’s short, it’s free and it’s easily doable. It’s also fun, often being called ‘nonsense poetry’.

Limericks are usually humorous or witty and sometimes obscene – but hopefully still witty or humorous with it.

This is an example of a limerick (anonymous author):

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

Various scholarly theses argue about the ‘pure’ form of the limerick – the different lengths of lines etc – we’re not bothered about any of that – we’re only interested in it as a boost to our creativity.

That is:

There once was a BellaOnline Creativity ed,
Whose rhymes far too long did spread.
She just wanted the boost
That limericks produced
On the creativity in her head.

Briefly, for those of you interested in the standard form - a limerick always has five lines with lines 1, 2 and 5 consisting of nine syllables and rhyming with each other; and lines 3 and 4 having five or six syllables and rhyming with each other. Lines are usually written in the anapestic meter – that is – two short syllables followed by a long one. The first line traditionally introduces a person and a place and the last line often reveals the answer to a twist in the rhyme – like a twist in the tale story.

Edward Lear is the most famous proponent of the limerick form. He wrote 212 limericks and brought out his first ‘Book of Nonsense’ in 1845. An example of his verse:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!”


There was a Young Lady whose chin,
Resembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.

There is also a sub-genre known as ‘anti-limericks’ where the ‘true’ form of a limerick is deliberately warped, for example:

There was a young man from Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked why this was,
He answered "It's because
I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever possibly I can."

But we’re not limerick-rebels – we’re just interested in using them to boost our creativity. In fact they have other uses: they can often say something you want to say but can’t find a good way of saying – making things humorous can cover many an awkward moment; they’re good for a rant – it’s always good to have a rant if you can do it constructively. Limericks are a good creative way of letting off steam, or getting rid of a worry.

This is me having a rant:

My website I tried to update
And got into a terrible state.
It just made me see red,
It wouldn’t do as I said,
Not realizing its imminent delete fate!

Humor quite naturally springs from this form of expression, and humor is always a good thing.

Limericks can be an end in themselves – to keep for further reading, or to write in a card to someone, or send into a competition – or they can be a springboard to other areas of creativity.

Creativity in one area of your life will spill over into other areas and force creativity to bloom there as well. Today a limerick – tomorrow The Novel!

So – have a go at a limerick or few. Amuse yourself, and maybe others. Get your creativity flowing!

Yours creatively

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Content copyright © 2015 by Susan Alison. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Susan Alison. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Jana Taylor for details.


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