In the spirit of Limerick Day, Wednesday, May 12, why not try writing one of your own?  Crafting limericks is fun and challenging, very much like solving a verbal puzzle.

Here are some basic guidelines for limericks:

Limericks are short, rhythmic, rhyming poems that are usually humorous or lighthearted in subject matter.

There are five lines making up one stanza

The rhyming pattern is A/A/B/B/A.  This means that the 1st, 2nd, and 5th lines rhyme, while the 3rd and 4th lines rhyme.  (Alternatively, the first and last lines can end with the same word.)

The 1st, 2nd and 5th lines are typically between 7-10 syllables

The 3rd and 4th lines are between 5-7 syllables

That’s simple enough, isn’t it? Now, give it a try!

If you want more of a challenge, go for the feature that makes limericks a bit tricky to write: “anapests.” The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines anapest as “a metrical foot used in poetry consisting of two short syllables followed by one long syllable, or two unstressed syllables followed by one stressed syllable (such as the word unaware.)”  A limerick has 3 anapests in lines 1, 2 and 5, and 2 anapests in lines 3 and 4.  The anapests create a rhythm, or cadence to the limerick that makes it fun to read aloud. 

Confused? puts the limerick anapestic cadence in simple terms:

Da dum da da dum da da dum
Da dum da da dum da da dum
Da dum da da dum
Da dum da da dum
Da dum da da dum da da dum!

Now all you have to do is substitute real words, ones that rhyme and make you laugh!  Here’s a limerick for inspiration:

There once was a group of good “friends”
Who helped libraries meet budget ends
Happy book loving peers
Who were all volunteers
On FOLSOI our system depends!

For more book recommendations and to learn more about the life and work of Edward Lear, inventor of the limerick, go to

Image courtesy pch.vector