10 Limericks for Edward Lear's Birthday 12th May - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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10 Limericks for Edward Lear's Birthday 12th May

Andrew has a keen interest in all aspects of poetry and writes extensively on the subject. His poems are published online and in print.

Portrait of Edward Lear.

Portrait of Edward Lear.

Edward Lear and The Limerick

Edward Lear is best known for his limerick poems and he is rightly celebrated each year on the 12th May for his unique contribution to the field of nonsense!. The artist, illustrator, cat lover, watercolourist, traveller, humourist and limerick meister has given us so much to think and laugh about it's high time we gave him something back!

I've written 10 limericks of my own for Mr Edward Lear. I hope you'll enjoy them.

As a boy I was taught his nonsense verse at school and grew to appreciate the inventiveness and the playful way he constructed his lines. They were so colourful and ridiculous, a joy to hear and a challenge to read out loud without giggling or falling off your chair.

It seems to me that Mr Edward Lear never quite grew up and was, right up until his death in San Remo, Italy in 1888, a child at heart. Despite his great beard and balding head towards the end of his life he remained full of nonsense inside.

A Typical Lear Limerick

Edward Lear loved limericks. But just what is a limerick poem? They're usually 4 or 5 line poems with a special rhythm and rhyming pattern,(anapaestic trimeter and dimeter) best served with a dash of humour. For example:

There was an Old Man who supposed,

That the street door was partially closed;

But some very large rats, ate his coat and his hats,

While that futile old gentleman dozed.

Some More Limericks

As a tribute to a very talented man I have composed some limericks of my own. With apologies to all who see the limerick as a true poetic expression of pure mirth (and not a rag bag of sentences that accidentally happen to rhyme).

Edward Lear: A self portrait

Edward Lear: A self portrait

There was an old 'gator called Mose

With his eye on a family of crows

He lay in the creek

For nigh on a week

Hoping they'd land on his nose.


There once lived a boy called Joe

Who developed an enormous big toe,

On it there sat

A contented cat,

A granny, a toad and a crow.


A greedy young giant from Rhum,

To get rid of his rumbling tum,

Drank the channel quite dry,

Ate the whole Isle of Skye

But was caught in the act by his Mum.


Toucan Colour lithograph by Edward Lear

Toucan Colour lithograph by Edward Lear

An eccentric young farmer from Maine

Fell in love with his hog it was plain,

You silly young fool

Said a disgruntled mule,

This will drive Quentin the Rooster insane.



When Wilfred bit into his pie,

Inside was a big letter I,

The more pie he ate

The more alphabet

Came tumbling over the guy.


There was an old planet called Earth

Who gave all the poets their birth

She span round the sun

Till spinning was done,

Till the poets had had their words worth.


A young city banker called Pete,

Whose credentials were almost complete,

Lost everyone's money

Which he thought rather funny

Til the mob took it out on Wall Street.


A gambler from old Alberqueque

Won millions consulting a turkey,

'I've won every bet

With this mysterious pet

Which I admit does make me sound quirky.'


Whether the weather's the same,

Or whether the weather's to blame,

Whatever, whenever,

Wherever or never

The weather's still got the same name.


We'd better establish some rules,

Said the whales who swam in large schools,

'OK' one cried out

As he started to spout,

'We don't talk to humans, they're fools!'



Illustration for The Owl and the Pussy cat

Illustration for The Owl and the Pussy cat

Edward Lear and The Owl and the Pussy Cat

Perhaps Lear's most famous nonsense poem is The Owl and the Pussy Cat. This tells of an exotic voyage by two animal characters, the owl and the cat, and the adventures they had out at sea. Published in 1871 it followed in the footsteps of Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland which had been a surprise success in Victorian England. Carroll was also a writer of nonsense verse - Jabberwocky and The White Knight's Song being the most well known - making the years between 1846 and 1871 a prolific time for nonsense!

You can just picture these stout, upright disciplined gentleman strutting around spouting all sorts of surreal gibberish whilst pretending to be model citizens. Nonsense verse and the Alice factor didn't go down well with some sections of society however. Victorian England was supposed to be all about social aspirations based solidly on 'improvement and strict morality'. Jabberwockys and other such distractions were seen as subversive, turning the heads of the younger generations. Tut tut!

The Owl and the Pussy-cat



The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

II

Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

One of Edward Lear's early nonsense books

One of Edward Lear's early nonsense books

Edward Lear lived and worked in Seymour Street, London.

Edward Lear lived and worked in Seymour Street, London.

Lear's Legacy

I've enjoyed writing about Edward Lear and bringing you these limericks, which are fun and occasionally profound at the same time. Whilst some may think them superficial - preferring more serious poetry - I'd like to hope they'll be around for a long time to come as a sort of antidote to all the dark stuff going on in the world.

© 2012 Andrew Spacey

Comments

Brandon from Houston, Texas on July 23, 2015:

Thanks I enjoyed this hub very informing on what limerick is and good poetry from a good poet

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 10, 2015:

Thank you for the visit, much appreciated. Limericks are great fun and I'm glad to know you both enjoyed discovering the life of Lear.

bluebird on July 10, 2015:

My husband pointed this hub out to me and said, Hey! Limericks, let's read that hug. We both really enjoyed learning about Edward Lear and even more so reading his rhyme. Cute nonsense! Thank you.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 26, 2014:

Many thanks for the visit and comment. Mr Lear was a bit of a genius I think!

Dave McClure from Kyle, Scotland on July 15, 2014:

Fun stuff - nicely done :)

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on July 13, 2014:

Hey Jodah. Thank you for the visit and comment. Limericks do not have a strict rule for number of syllables but the 8 and 5 reminder can help in their construction. I guess a limerick is a limerick if it follows the spirit of Lear....so five lines that work together and have humour in them (hopefully!) should make them limericks.If you concentrate on the flow of language you can get good results.I wish you well.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on July 12, 2014:

Loved this hub chef-de-jour so had to revisit. I have always been an Edward Lear fan and just started to try my hand at writing limericks. I adore your Own limericks. They are hilarious. I had a comment on one of my hubs that mine may not be true limericks because they aren't all:

8 syllable

8 syllable

5 syllable

5 syllable

8 syllable

Do you know if that is a strict formula? Voted up.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on February 19, 2014:

Hey thank you for the visit and comment Jodah, much appreciated. Edward Lear was a very talented man, quaintly English, slightly mad I think, yet always creative.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 19, 2014:

Great hub chef-de-jour. I have always been a huge Edward Lear fan, so this is a worthy tribute, and your limericks are very funny. Well done.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 29, 2012:

You are very welcome PDXKaraokeGuy, thanks for the visit and comment.I always find it puzzling how limericks and absurdity work so well together. It's that certain rhythm in the opening two lines, that shorter pair of lines in the middle that sort of condense the action.Then there's the end line which seems to sum everything up for its silliness, or repeats the absurdity.

They're a fantastic poetry form.

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on June 29, 2012:

due to their general silliness, limerick's are often overlooked. but, like haiku, they are a fun and interesting form of poetry. Thanks for this bio, examples and creativity :-)

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 22, 2012:

That's nice you came through...twice.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on June 22, 2012:

Thanks for the visit and comment Suzie!

It's tempting to answer everything in rhyme but I think I'll reply normally this time. Oh no. Not again. No excuzie.

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on June 22, 2012:

Enjoyed your hub,

As i read in the tub,

your truly quite gifted,

the veil's now been lifted,

that your a secret paddy at heart!!!!! voting and sharing!!!!

Suzanne Ridgeway from Dublin, Ireland on June 22, 2012:

Excellent hub,

As i read in the tub,

Your truly quite gifted,

The veils now been lifted,

Your a secret paddy at heart!!!!

voting up and sharing!

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 21, 2012:

I see why you sign

your limerick is fine

so do keep on tryin

one day you'll be flyin.

appreciate your visit.

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on May 20, 2012:

i sign mine

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

Won a few contests at bars? There must be a limerick in there somewhere!?

Grannies,nans,grandmas ..mmmm.

Best of luck with hubbing.

Bye.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

OK AK

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on May 15, 2012:

Thanks, Chef! Limericks come naturally to me. They've won me a few contests at bars. I thank my dear departed grandma for giving me the Lear book as inspiration.

Joseph A K Turner from West Yorkshire on May 15, 2012:

you too :)

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

Very good, yes. Prose does tend to flow compared to a forced or worked on rhyming patterny poetry so you're probably better off sticking to what comes naturally. Thanks for goulash goolash fact and best of luck with all your hubbing.

Bye for now.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

Well this is a fine example I'd say and fulfils most if not all of the criteria for a bona fide wholesome limerick. That is, creates a subtle tension between the comic and the serious, thus producing a hint of the ludicrous.....and you did all that in 20 seconds? What could you do in 40?

Great fun, slightly addictive though...

I like the syllabic tripping...I'd better stop!

Bye for now.

Joseph A K Turner from West Yorkshire on May 15, 2012:

I wrote that in about a minute. I could spend hours on it, but I find writing stories a lot more fruitful. No unfortunately it is served in Serbia as well. Tasted amazing, but I woke up at five am with severe stomach cramps :) and spent the next two hours sat on the toilet seat

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on May 15, 2012:

An old Ella Fitzgerald song inspires my Milwaukee limerick. This is a 20-second effort, so be gentle.

There once was a man from Milwaukee

Whose voice was terribly squawky

He took testosterone

And spoke low on the phone

But was destined to sound rather gawky

Eh. Back to work! Limericks make a fun break :).

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

You need to keep working on this one.

I only thought goulash, goolash, was served up in Hungary?

Joseph A K Turner from West Yorkshire on May 15, 2012:

I went to serbia and had some dodgy goolash

sufficive to say I needed more than a slash

Several times I nearly crapped myself

man that goolash was bad for my health

true story limerick loool

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

who kept a live frog in a bucket

but the frog leapt away

with the bucket one day

leaving one question - Who took it?

It needs a little work.

Woodchip on May 15, 2012:

There once was a man from Nantucket...

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

OK thank you AK. Limericks are great for some light relief and fun to have a go at ... who knows what might appear?

Just get your 3 basic rhyming words together, a comical image, a bit of fun in the middle and hey presto!

Appreciate your visit.

Bye.

Joseph A K Turner from West Yorkshire on May 15, 2012:

An eccentric old farmer from Maine

Fell in love with his hog it was plain,

But this upset the bull

Who chased them until

They came to their senses again.

I feel inspired, very good! You obviously have a talent

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 15, 2012:

Four years old and introduced to a poet full of nonsense! How lucky. Many people go their whole lives and never come across him or his famous beard, which I think probably influenced Roald Dahl's The Twits? And a few others besides.

Quite an artist too, with an eye for the birds.

So glad you enjoyed the hub.

Appreciate you visiting.

Bye for now.

Andrew Spacey (author) from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK on May 14, 2012:

Lear was being taught to you in school? Great. I never thought nonsense could be educational. But that's a load of nonsense I guess.

Thank you for visiting.

Bye or now.

SantaCruz from Santa Cruz, CA on May 14, 2012:

Lovely! The Lear limerick that I remember most was about a man with nests in his beard. I remember it because the illustration scared me! OK, I was four years old... Now that I see Lear's photo, I realize that he had quite a nesty beard himself.

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!'

hypnosis4u2 from Massachusetts on May 14, 2012:

Enjoyed this hub and you reminding me of Lear. Long time school. Thanks.