Limericks are a poetical art form unto themselves.  Although they had been written for many years before him, they were first popularized by well-known author and illustrator Edward Lear. Every year there is a celebration of National Limerick Day on May 12,  Edward Lear’s birthday.

Although early limericks, including Lear’s, often didn’t conform to this standard, standard limericks are 5 line poems, with the first, second, and fifth lines rhyming with each other. The third and fourth lines rhyme with each other. The rythm is anapestic – unstressed words followed by stressed words:

da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM
da DUM da da DUM da da DUM

There was an old man with a beard by Edward Lear. From A Book of Nonsense, 1875. Courtesy of the Royal Academy of Arts

One of Edward Lear’s limericks (chosen because I’m getting on and have a beard):

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!”


Laroque, Corey. There Once Was a Place Called NiagaraNiagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, October 17, 2009
Laroque, Corey. Here’s What the Poets are Saying. Niagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, November 21, 2009
Laroque, Corey.  City’s Unofficial Poet Laureate . Niagara Falls, Ont.: Niagara Falls Review, December 31, 2009

Finalists in the So You Think You Can Rhyme (2009) Limerick Contest to Find Niagara Falls’ Poet Laureate

Beam, Betty.  Before Explorers and Pioneers
Ellis, Christopher.  To Avoid an Unpleasant Tryst
Harris, Doug.  Brave Men
Janzen, David.  Maid of the Mist
“McStone, Cornelius P.”  Mimi and Rose
Murdoch, Angela.  Magical Place
Porteus, Andrew.   Bossy Simms: A Limerick (2nd place)
Price, Heather.  Parked at the Mall (1st place)
Smith, David.  The Frankenstein Museum
Valiquette, Win.  Sad Story


Porteus, Andrew.  Helicopter Rescue: A Limerick
Stek, Robert.  Untitled Limerick