A limerick is five-line witty, humorous, or nonsense poem. Its development has been a curious one. Its place of origin is uncertain, although some scholars claim it is of Irish descent. It was Edward Lear who populated the limerick.

Edward Lear was a painter but also an illustrator, author and a poet. In his free time he entertained children with humorous, nonsense verses made of moonshine and magic. It was during this period Lear discovered the Limerick as a form of entertaining verse.

The form of limerick is of five lines. The first, second and the fifth are long. The third and fourth are short. The rhyme scheme is  A A B B A.

A verse:

There was an old man of Cape Horn

Who wished he had never been born;

So he sat on chair

Till he died of despair

That dolorous man of Cape Horn.

There are many verses beginning as a reader can refer Lear’s ‘A book of nonsense’.

“There was an old man from ….”

“There was a young lady of ….”

Scholars do claim grew fantastically as it embraced every topic, territory, temperament. It explored every variation of strangeness imaginable.

A verse on exploiting the language problem:


There was a young fellow named Hall,

Who fellin’  the spring in the fall,

‘T would have been a sad thing

If he’d died in the spring,

But he didn’t – he died in the fall.


Since then there have been some variations. Limerick was quite famous during the World War II among staff of Royal Dutch Navy.

For more, please refer Edward Lear’s ‘A book of Nonsense’.


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