Get Your Premium Membership

Writing 101: I Can't Write Limericks - Can You?

by John T. Jones, Ph.D.

I’ve always wanted to write limericks. I think that they are concise and funny and they tell a story that is easily visualized.

Bennett Cerf got me hooked on limericks. He was a famous editor and publisher. Read his biography at

Take the poem Jack and Jill which is not a limerick:

Jack and Jill went up a hill

To fetch a pail of water.

Jack fell down and broke his crown,

And Jill came tumbling after.

This poem has visual content. If you can’t see Jack and Jill tumbling down the hill there must be something wrong with your mental visualization. You did see them tumbling, right?

In limerick form Jack and Jill might read like this:

There was a young fellow named Jack

Who with Sister Jill made a pact:

If she lugged water up the hill

He would pay her cobbler’s bill

For the shoes she obviously lacked.

I can’t write limericks but you get the idea.

My limericks always start:

There was a lady named Grace

With filthy mud on her face.

While swilling the hogs

Down by the bog,

She slipped and dirtied her lace.

I read the following at “Historically, limericks are notoriously bawdy. Bennett Cerf, then head of the publishing firm, Random House, was asked how they chose the winner of their limerick contest. He said it was simple; they threw out all that were indecent and the winner was the one that was left.”

Go to this link to review books on limericks:

On a cold winter night you will find

That a good book of limericks is fine.

They’re warm and their funny;

And smooth as warm honey,

And poetry’s one of a kind.”

Have fun writing your own limericks. If you learn the secret, send me a copy of your work. We’ll laugh together.

John T. Jones, Ph.D. (, a retired VP of R&D for Lenox China, is author of detective & western novels, nonfiction (business, scientific, engineering, humor), poetry, etc. Former editor of Ceramic Industry Magazine. He calls himself "Taylor Jones, the hack writer."

More info:

Business web site:

Article Source:,_Ph.D.

Book: Shattered Sighs