How Do I Write a Limerick?

Patrick Lynch

A limerick is a poem that consists of five lines with the first, second, and final lines rhyming and the third and fourth lines following suit. Each Limerick has a certain structure and is usually a story containing a beginning, middle, and end, despite its brevity. You can write a limerick by using the name of a place or person in line one and using it as the rhyming scheme for the entire poem. Devices like wordplay and assonance will add to the final line. English poet Edward Lear is credited with making this type of poem popular.

Edward Lear is credited with making the limerick popular.
Edward Lear is credited with making the limerick popular.

The limerick is a type of poetry that can be witty or insulting and often contains vulgar language. The whole poem is condensed into five lines and has a rhyme scheme. When writing a limerick, you must ensure that the first and second line rhyme. The third and fourth line also rhyme. The fifth and final line rhymes with the first couplet.

Modern limericks include a comedic punchline.
Modern limericks include a comedic punchline.

The first, second, and fifth lines must have three feet of three syllables each. The third and fourth lines, however, need only two feet of three syllables each. Old limericks were written so that the final line was a repeat of the first one. You need not adhere to that structure now as an original final line is welcome.

When writing a limerick, include a place or person in the first line. You must make sure that this place or person is easy to rhyme because it must be included as the last word on the line. It establishes the entire rhyme scheme of the poem.

To write a high quality limerick, you should incorporate some sort of play on words in the final line. Some examples of devices that could be used include internal rhyme and alliteration. An internal rhyme involves rhyming a word within a line with the word at the end of the line. Alliteration involves the repetition of a certain sound occurring in the first syllables of a word or phrase.

The name "limerick" is believed to derive from the city of the same name in the Republic of Ireland. This form of poetry was made famous by Edward Lear, who wrote more than 200 limericks. the New English Dictionary was the first place where the name for this type of poem was said to have been popularized, in 1898. Examples of the name, however, were found in a newspaper in New Brunswick, Canada, in 1880.

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