Get Your Premium Membership

Limerick Question - Jeff Kyser's Blog

About Jeff Kyser
(Show Details...)
Bloggers Photo

Jeff Kyser is a retired software developer who lives with his wife Frances right ‘round the bend in rural Lacey’s Spring, Alabama. A late comer to the world of poetry, he has been writing contemplative and whimsical pieces on family, on redemption, and on faith for the last several years. His eight grandchildren are the source for much of his inspiration, fueling a desire to spur their imagination and to share his life’s journey with them.


Limerick Question

Blog Posted:3/30/2022 4:37:00 PM

So my question is: what is the essence of a limerick?

 

Some sites will tell you it *must* be 9/9/6/6/9, a rhyme pattern of AABBA, and the following beats:

 

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

 

The Soup lists 7-10 syllables for the A lines, and 5-7 lines for the B lines

 

A7 would be:

     Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

 

A8 could be

 

     da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

or

           Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da

 

A9 could be

 

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

or

        da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da

 

A10 can pretty much only be:

 

  da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da

 

B5 could be:

 

    da-Dum-da-da-Dum
or
          Dum-da-da-Dum-da

 

B6 could be:

 

da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum
or
      da-Dum-da-da-Dum-da

 

and B7 is like A7 above.

 

But my question remains: what are the essential elements? It seems that it is the main beats:

 

Dum Dum Dum

Dum Dum Dum

Dum Dum

Dum Dum

Dum Dum Dum

 

So is this a limerick?

 

Three blind mice

Don’t look twice.

Black cat

Sees that;

Sure tastes nice! 

 

Or if the essence is expressed A7, the two ‘da’ beats between each ‘Dum’ beat, then why is a B4 not allowed?

 

Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

Dum-da-da-Dum

Dum-da-da-Dum

Dum-da-da-Dum-da-da-Dum

 

For instance:

 

Anxiously they crossed the road

Car came fast, it never slowed

I heard a splat

Well, that was that

Man did that frogger explode

 

That sounds like a limerick to me

 

For a contest, I guess anything stipulated in the contest is legit, but the limerick essence is what’s interesting to me.

 

Thoughts?



Please Login to post a comment
Date: 4/1/2022 10:49:00 PM
Oh, but to have the ear of the Irish :)) The first line sets the tone (beat) and the rest follow suit. The stressed and unstressed syllables as we know it, do not help us much when we compose a Limerick - you feel the beat and it might be either anapaestic or amphibrachic. But always with strong rhymes: aabba. For these reasons, the lines may vary in length (as stated by PS). Try to listen to poem by Irish poets on YouTube - it will help with your ear for limericks. BTW the punchline is the goal of these poems, and not the meter as such. Happy writing :))
Login to Reply
Richards Avatar
Suzette Richards
Date: 4/1/2022 11:12:00 PM
There was once a coltish man from Mars Who would not hang around the cheap bars. He came courting the men Scoring a perfect ten, When stemming the rose in Martian ... farce. You will notice that the meter is not spot on, but it delivers the punch in the final line with the final word that follows a pregnant pause ( to bait the audience to complete it with a more off coloured word). Lines 3 & 4 are always presented indended on the written page. Above all: spontaneity is the key.
Date: 3/31/2022 12:44:00 PM
and like Tania says: equal syllable counts lining up for the matching lines, but also equal beat!!! And yes, they need to be humorous or at least light hearted. I've seen them used for tragic topics, and that is pretty weird unless it's dark humor.
Login to Reply
Date: 3/31/2022 12:42:00 PM
JEFF, the ideal is da da dum da da dum da da dum but also taking off the first weak stress and just going da Dum da da dum da da dum is also acceptable. TEN syllables comes into play when you finish with an extra syllable da da dum da da dum da da dum da (this one takes care of special words with an extra syllable on the end). I prefer to hear these versions when I judge limerick contests or read limericks of my peers. I think typically 5-6 is best for the shorter lines 3 and 4. Just my two cents!!
Login to Reply
Dietrich Avatar
Andrea Dietrich
Date: 3/31/2022 2:32:00 PM
yes, you got it. It's the meter people miss more than anything else!
Kyser Avatar
Jeff Kyser
Date: 3/31/2022 1:25:00 PM
Thanks for the feedback, Andrea. I think it is important to convey that (and you probably do, I've not been around that long) in a contest where you're likely to prefer an 8 or 9 over a 7 or 10 for the 'A' lines. I think the stress/beats is what people miss more than syllables.
Date: 3/31/2022 4:13:00 AM
in time must the limerick succumb... to the rhythm of dumb, dumb, dumb dumb...and suffer the curse...of unmetered verse....perfectly straight but a hair out of plumb
Login to Reply
Kyser Avatar
Jeff Kyser
Date: 3/31/2022 1:36:00 PM
perfectly straight, but a hair out of plumb // remove the last ‘b’ and it isn’t so dumb // young horner, his head hung over a pie // pulled out a hair, at least gave it a try // else why was he fishing, I’d like to know why? // Jack’s orientation? The text doesn not say. // These days they’d probably pitch him as gay
Kyser Avatar
Jeff Kyser
Date: 3/31/2022 1:27:00 PM
gonna have to think about that 'perfectly straight / hair out of plumb' a bit :-)
Date: 3/31/2022 3:51:00 AM
Jeff, A perfect limerick should have good meter to it as well as equal syllable counts in lines 1, 2 and 5 and then 3 and 4. I think a good limerick should also be humorous one. Some people focus more on the sound and meter and not the syllable counts. I learned from the best, Jan Allison and focus on the syllable counts.
Login to Reply
ALLISON Avatar
JAN ALLISON
Date: 4/1/2022 1:21:00 PM
aww thanks Tania I am blushing. I'd never written a limerick until I joined soup and started entering Roy Jerden's limerick contests. I now adore the form and I think I have written in excess of 500 . I love the fact they can be witty ribald and I can write about pooping and farting. I agree with Jeff I like the use of double entendre.
Kyser Avatar
Jeff Kyser
Date: 3/31/2022 3:58:00 AM
I would also add that my favorites are those that have at least a double entendre.
Kyser Avatar
Jeff Kyser
Date: 3/31/2022 3:57:00 AM
Tania, thanks for your input to the conversation! I have seen many a limerick with "proper" syllable counts, but lousy meter because they use words that do not place the emphasis in the proper location. (for instance, using a spondee when an iamb would have been better, etc.) I would agree that if you nail one of the above patterns with equal lengths for all A lines and for all B lines and it is funny, you have a good limerick.
Date: 3/30/2022 5:16:00 PM
I suppose I am all over the charts, Jeff. I try to make sure I have the same number of syllables in lines 1, 2, and 5, also in lines 3 and 4. Even then, I have found that the sound is not always what I want it to be. To write a perfect limerick is a most difficult proposition. I think most of us do as I do, but, I'm not sure. Thanks.
Login to Reply

My Past Blog Posts

 
Tall Tales 3 is open!
Date Posted: 6/4/2022 6:51:00 AM
Fascination and Awe Poetry Finalized
Date Posted: 6/2/2022 1:49:00 PM
Fascination and Awe Poetry Contest now open
Date Posted: 5/15/2022 4:28:00 PM
Tall Tales 2 Results
Date Posted: 5/5/2022 6:50:00 AM
Dear "Mother"
Date Posted: 4/22/2022 6:40:00 AM
Terzanelle Markup
Date Posted: 4/6/2022 11:06:00 AM
Limerick Question
Date Posted: 3/30/2022 4:37:00 PM
Tall Tales 1 Finalized
Date Posted: 3/25/2022 3:13:00 AM
Chiasmus in Poetry
Date Posted: 3/16/2022 5:39:00 AM

My Recent Poems

Date PostedPoemTitleFormCategories
6/29/2022 The Drinking Game Crystallinedrink,
6/29/2022 Some Distant Shore Quatrainflying,
6/28/2022 Sonic Sonnet Rhymesound,
6/28/2022 Watermelon Jam Rhymesilly,
6/27/2022 Stay the Course Rhymelife,
6/26/2022 Forgiven Rhymedog,forgiveness,
6/26/2022 Shall I compare thee Sonnethumorous,love,travel,
6/25/2022 Jiggety-jig Rhymehome,
6/24/2022 Swimming at the beach Limerickbeach,
6/23/2022 Farm girls Rhymenonsense,
6/23/2022 Myzygy Monorhymenonsense,
6/23/2022 Suspended Quatraingranddaughter,time,
6/22/2022 Hostage II Crystallinebeach,
6/21/2022 Elven Berry Cream Rhymefantasy,food,
6/21/2022 Hostage Rhymesun,
6/21/2022 Midas Touch Quatrainmurder,
6/20/2022 Improbable Cookies Quatraincreation,
6/19/2022 Refined Quintain (Sicilian)sunset,
6/19/2022 Awash Sonnetocean,
6/19/2022 FINAlly Rhymerace,
6/19/2022 Flight To Fancy Sonnetcreation,
6/19/2022 Beach Misery Rhymebeach,
6/18/2022 Mis ojos Rhymeanimal,beach,
6/17/2022 Borborgymi Rhymesilly,
6/17/2022 Not that Betsy Coupletsilly,
6/17/2022 Redouble Crystallinefun,
6/17/2022 On the front Rhymerain,storm,
6/17/2022 Content Quatrainhope,
6/16/2022 Waterslide Rhymefun,water,
6/15/2022 The More Remarkable Sonnetaddiction,
6/15/2022 Unknown Caller Quatrainsilly,
6/14/2022 Where I Write Quatrainwriting,
6/14/2022 Emerald Green Eyes Quatrainwar,
6/14/2022 Wordle bot Quatrainsilly,
6/13/2022 Blood Donor Coupletinsect,silly,work,
6/13/2022 Filled with chalk Rhymegranddaughter,silly,
6/12/2022 No place like foam Rhymedeath,silly,
6/12/2022 Misfire Quatraindog,
6/12/2022 Mixing Day Coupletwork,
6/11/2022 Split Wide Open Than-Baukfood,happiness,
6/11/2022 Night Burn Alexandrineangst,sleep,
6/10/2022 Oblivious Free versenight,
6/10/2022 Little White Dress Sonnetsilly,
6/10/2022 Weed Whacker Coupletsilly,work,
6/10/2022 Plus One Rhymewriting,
6/10/2022 The darkness there inside Quatraindepression,friend,
6/9/2022 SAND Verselove,
6/9/2022 empath Rhymehow i feel,
6/9/2022 It's cold in space Crystallinehumorous,space,
6/9/2022 Brine of the Anxious Marinator Balladanxiety,silly,
6/8/2022 Werewolves among us Rondeau Redoubleinternet,
6/8/2022 Wynken, Blynken, and Ichabod Rhymechild,nursery rhyme,
6/8/2022 The Chigger Dance Rhymenursery rhyme,silly,
6/8/2022 Jujube Tree Limericksilly,
6/7/2022 Let Your Light Shine Rondeau Redoublefather,heaven,
6/7/2022 Go on, Redouble Rondeau Redoublepoems,
6/7/2022 Don't Go Away Crystallinenursery rhyme,
6/6/2022 nonsense Monorhymenonsense,
6/6/2022 Esrever ni Vogon Poetrysilly,
6/6/2022 What Lies Ahead Rondeaujourney,
6/5/2022 Florida Man 8 Limerickcar,
6/5/2022 Where's the beef Crystallinefood,
6/5/2022 Color Blind Rhymerace,
6/4/2022 Photograph Free versechange,
6/4/2022 Flight of the Firefly Quintillaadventure,fantasy,
6/4/2022 Camelot Quintillafantasy,silly,
6/4/2022 RPG Warrior Quintillaadventure,
6/4/2022 Dark Knight Quintillasilly,
6/4/2022 Morning Prayer Blank verseinspiration,prayer,
6/3/2022 Reasoning Seasoning Epulaeryufood,summer,
6/3/2022 beats me Iambic Pentametermuse,
6/3/2022 infectious Senryusmile,
6/3/2022 Eructations Monokujourney,
6/3/2022 Idle, my idol Rhymetoday,
6/1/2022 A Bawdy Rendition Limerickappreciation,humorous,
6/1/2022 Mighty No More Rhymeheartbroken,tree,
5/31/2022 shall not be infringed Quatrainfreedom,
5/31/2022 cosplay carl Quatrainsilly,
5/30/2022 Passive Aggressive Monorhymehow i feel,silly,
5/30/2022 2A Rhymefreedom,
5/29/2022 Muskrat Rhymeculture,humorous,
5/29/2022 Theory in Crisis: III Quatrainlife,
5/28/2022 movie night Haikufire,
5/28/2022 Weed Puller Rhymefarm,
5/28/2022 Beeattitude Rhymeappreciation,graduation,i
5/28/2022 TLC Rhymecry,granddaughter,love,
5/27/2022 Noisy neighbors Rhymeanimal,howl,night,
5/27/2022 No inkling Rhymememory,
5/27/2022 Potting Shed Light Versegarden,spring,
5/26/2022 Sentimentality Free verseinspirational,nonsense,
5/26/2022 soupercilious Rhymehumorous,parody,
5/26/2022 Pretty Blessed Rubaiyatgranddaughter,
5/25/2022 when god is small Rhymehumanity,
5/25/2022 nervous tick Limerickhumorous,nature,
5/25/2022 come 'round Rhymehow i feel,
5/24/2022 Meat and Greet Haikunature,
5/24/2022 Theory in Crisis: II Rhymelife,science,
5/22/2022 Theory in Crisis: I Rhymelife,science,
5/22/2022 Ram Pump Song Light Verseappreciation,rain,water,
5/22/2022 Ode to a Groundhog Quatrainanimal,

My Photos


photo

ps_baby_goat.jpg

Fav Poems

PoemTitleFormCategories
Seventh Son and an English Falcon Knight Versefantasy,
Pickings Free versepoetry,
Numbers Free versepoetry,
Tenement Tombs Free versepoverty,
The Wah Oo Song Lyricbird,crazy,me,music,nonse
God Rises from That Distant Hill Rhymebeauty,god,mountains,natu
Feeling It Free versepoetry,
Carrying Onward Free versepoetry,
our lady of Guadalupe Free verseaddiction,history,journey

Fav Poets

PoetCountry 
John Read United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
L MILTON HANKINS United States Flag United States Read
Charlotte Puddifoot United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Gershon Wolf United States Flag United States Read
Brother Jacob United States Flag United States Read
Paula Goldsmith United States Flag United States Read
Thompson Emate Nigeria Flag Nigeria Read
Bill Baker United States Flag United States Read
Kim Rodrigues United States Flag United States Read
Silent One United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
BJ Legros Kelley United States Flag United States Read
Heidi Sands United States Flag United States Read
Angela Tune United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Dill Dennison United States Flag United States Read
Robert Gorelick United States Flag United States Read
William Coyne United States Flag United States Read
harry horsman Australia Flag Australia Read
Eric Ashford United States Flag United States Read
Kenneth Cheney United States Flag United States Read
Marco Chies Brazil Flag Brazil Read
Gary Radice United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Indiana Shaw United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Panagiota Romios United States Flag United States Read
JAN ALLISON Isle Of Man Flag Isle Of Man Read
Jenna Logan United States Flag United States Read
Melani Udaeta United States Flag United States Read
Caren Krutsinger United States Flag United States Read
Meghan Hutchings United States Flag United States Read
Chantelle Anne Cooke United States Flag United States Read
Ann Foster United States Flag United States Read
Tania Kitchin United States Flag United States Read
Jessica Amanda Salmonson United States Flag United States Read
Alan Jeeves United Kingdom Flag United Kingdom Read
Cooper Etheridge United States Flag United States Read