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And now for some doggerel

Alice in specs

I wanted to write a haiku,

About life and love and you;

But haiku are intense,

And don’t always make sense;

So I wrote this instead, will it do?

Haiku are all very well, but what about the humble limerick? In the hands of an expert, haiku can be hauntingly lovely, but they tend to be so gloomy. And earnest. Which I suppose is a bit rich from somebody who last week posted a very gloomy and earnest poem. So, to celebrate the last day of NaPoWriMo, let’s have a bit of fun.

Limericks are such an easy form a child can write them, and because of this are often dismissed as doggerel, but they can also be very clever. What about:

There was a young lady named Bright

who travelled much faster than light.

She set out one day

in a relative way,

and came back the previous night.


And then there’s:

There was a young lady of Niger

who smiled as she rode on a tiger;

They returned from the ride

with the lady inside,

and the smile on the face of the tiger.

(attributed to Edward Lear and William Cosmo Monkhouse).

Then of course, there are the smutty ones (close your eyes now):

There was a young man from Savannah

Who died in a curious manner:

He whittled a hole

In a telephone pole

And electrified his banana.



As Titian was mixing rose madder,

His model posed nude up a ladder,

Her position

To Titian,

Suggested coition

So he nipped up the ladder and had her.

Edward Lear is the man who is most associated with the limerick, according to The Best Limericks of All Time A Brief History of the Limerick  compiled and edited by Michael R. Burch. But he didn’t invent the form, he just found it in some old books. In fact even Shakespeare wrote limericks (as drinking songs in The Tempest, and Othello).

American author Ogden Nash was pretty nifty with a limerick:

A flea and a fly in a flue

Were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly, “let us flee!”

“Let us fly!” said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

Any suggestions?

About elainecanham

I started blogging because I'm a writer, and I thought I ought to. Now I realise that I blog because I lwant to; even when I can't think of much to say. I do a lot of work for local businesses - get in touch if you like my style.


10 thoughts on “And now for some doggerel

  1. Rats!
    I made a comment yesterday and wondered why you hadn’t pounced on it. Now I find it didn’t even get posted for some reason. It went through all the security checks; I thought the grammar police and the speling inspectors had had their say; I’d entered my %tjo$p in the required spot and I even cast a small spell involving an eye of newt, but evidently it wasn’t enough. (Check out the semi-colons lady!)

    I’m sorry I can’t remember the full genius of my offering, but I do remember that I chid you for having a last line that didn’t scan proper, suggesting instead:

    There was a young man from Savannah,
    Who died in a curious mannah
    He came like a rocket
    In a ‘lectrical socket
    and fried off the skin of his ‘nannah.

    I also said, I remember, that I was not convinced you can whittle a hole. You whittle small talismans in wax for disabling your neighbours, but holes you have to drill. I offered a small limerick to illustrate this point, rhyming killem and drillem, but sadly I can’t remember it. As a consolation I offer you my fave, by the celebrated Mr Anon:

    There was a young lady from Crewe
    Who said as the Bishop withdrew,
    The vicar was quicker
    And slicker and thicker
    And longer and stronger than you.

    Sorry. What can I say? It’s dialogue and the character has a lamentably dirty mind. . .

    Posted by penjedi | May 1, 2014, 9:44 pm
    • I knew this was going to be smut magnet….Still very funny. I didn’t write the one about the man from Savannah. That too was Mr Anon and can be found on the website I mention.

      Posted by elainecanham | May 2, 2014, 7:55 am
  2. Hadn’t heard the Savannah one – like that!
    The one I can always remember is rather rude but funny-

    There was a young man of Westphalia
    Who painted his bum as a dahlia.
    It went very well, at tuppence a smell,
    But sixpence a lick was a failure…..


    Posted by Jools | April 30, 2014, 4:08 pm
  3. Hi Elaine, I have finally found a way of commenting on WordPress. By email! Ha! So here I am. One of my favourite limericks was told me by a friend.

    There was a young lady from Twickenham whose shoes were too tight to walk quick in ’em. She returned from her walk looking whiter than chalk, then she took of her shoes and was sick in ’em!

    It always makes me laugh.

    I like the tiger one too. I can see the smile on the face of that tiger.

    Loretta Livingstone http://www.treasurechestbooks.co.uk


    Posted by Loretta Livingstone | April 30, 2014, 12:08 pm
    • Love that limerick. I could also have posted the one my mother told me, which was: There was an old lady from Chislehurst, who before she could pee had to whistle first, then one day in June, she’d forgotten the tune, and what do you know? Her bladder burst!

      Posted by elainecanham | April 30, 2014, 12:11 pm
  4. Love it

    Posted by lbwoodgate | April 30, 2014, 11:49 am
  5. A great start to Wednesday with a bit of light entertainment.
    There was a young author, Elaine
    whose doggerel caused us to strain,
    her dog wore the glasses,
    made us laugh off our asses,
    and wonder which one had the brain.

    xxx Massive Hugs with apologies xxx

    Posted by davidprosser | April 30, 2014, 10:09 am

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