The art of the limerick


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Do limericks still form part of the culture? They were commonplace and often rude, but it's ages since we saw a decent (or indecent) new coinage. This week's bleg was for the best limerick which draws, however slightly, on the questions and answers in this week's Browser quiz.

... and of course, our ever-delightful readers delivered in spades. Here are just a few of our favourites...

Bryan Baird kicks us off with not one, but two offerings:

The first, regarding the quote on friendship:

It's a Wonderful Life has a book
Inscribed with a memorable hook
Yet no one can find
A source for the line
Though many made effort to look

The second, on the picture book that is Shrek:

Though the first story form was quite slick
Shrek really took off as a flick
The loveable ogre
(Mike Myers made brogue-er)
Made money, and that is what sticks!

Jamie Ding had further thoughts on Shrek, with this poetical reimagining of Smash Mouth:

A ogre named Shrek there once was
Who lived in a swamp just because
By the world he'd be rolled
Somebody once told
'Fore he set the box office abuzz

Melissa Joulwan was kind enough to share a gem from her eleven-year-old self; we can only assume a poetic career has since blossomed:

A girl in a very large dress
Wanted to share her happiness
She found a man,
his skin was tan
And it all ended up in a mess.

Jack Ayer's bilingual efforts were presumably not penned at eleven years old, but are truly remarkable:

There once was a lass from Marsala
Tucked snug in the grass with her fella.
She told her ἔφηβος
“You must never leave us!
ώ ποῖετον ἄλλα και ἄλλα!”

[I am sure the imperative in the last line is a dog’s breakfast. And “ephebos should be accusative, not nominative. But then it wouldn’t rhyme. And it’s sillier this way, which is a plus.]

A lawyer from old Philadelphia
Told his client, “the lies that I tellphia
Are venal, not vicious:
Whatever your wicious
I surely will not hazard Helphia.

But our prize must go to Rebecca Gowers. We introduced the competition, for those unfamiliar with limericks, with

a sample that is worthless in content but exemplary in form:

There once was a person from Porlock
Who covered his eyes with his forelock.
He called on a friend,
Whose work came to an end,
That regrettable person from Porlock.

By "worthless in content" we only meant to disclaim any distinction for our own doggerel, of course, but Rebecca responded directly, in no uncertain terms:

The 'Person from Porlock' is not,
As you kinda suggest, total rot.
He crashed Kubla Khan
F. F. S. , and—darn,
Just my under-collar quite hot?

Rebecca, we hope that you - and the Person from Porlock - will forgive us, over a nice mug of Browser tea. Many thanks to all our limericians! In sum:

E'en the most arduous wisher
Could wish for no poems delish-er
Than these fine notations!
Yours in admiration,
S. Bishop - Assistant publisher

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