National Poetry Month: Explore Limericks

A Limerick is a five-line poem that is usually one stanza. They are nearly all trivial in nature and most are comedic in tone, however some can be crude.

Limericks follow a strict structure within their single stanza:

  1. They are exactly five lines
  2. They consist of a particular rhyme scheme:


Limericks are commonly found as nursery rhymes. A popular one is Hickory Dickory Dock which is thought to be the oldest limerick in the English language appearing first in 1780 in Mother Goose’s Melody, or Sonnets for the Cradle.

Hickory Dickory Dock[1]
(as we know it)
Hickory dickory dock!
The mouse ran up the clock.
The clock struck one –
The mouse ran down.
Hickory dickory dock!
Dickory Dickory Dock
(1780 version)
Dickery, dickery dock,
The mouse ran up the clock;
The clock struck one,
The mouse ran down,
Dickery, dickery dock.

Despite frequently claiming credit for creating the limerick, Edward Lear was not its creator. But he did make it more well-known. His book of limericks, A Book of Nonsense, received a lot of attention and contributed to the popularization of this form of poetry.

More Nonsense Limerick 49[2]

Edward Lear

There was an old man on the Border,

Who lived in the utmost disorder;

He danced with the cat,

And made tea in his hat,

Which vexed all the folks on the Border.

Try it yourself

Remember it should be a single stanza, five lines, rhyme AABBA, and be something comical or crude and above all mostly nonsense!


[1] This nursery rhyme is in the public domain

[2] More Nonsense Limerck 49 by Edward Lear (1812-1888). This poem is in the public domain.


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