A page from the "Poetry through the Ages" exhibit...

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Limericks and LIMERICKS.

Limerick expert Don Marquis identified three types of limericks: "limericks to be told when ladies are present; limericks to be told when ladies are absent but clergymen are present; and LIMERICKS."

Delightful simplicity.

A look at memorable limericks, each with five lines and an aabba rhyme scheme, clearly shows their intended audiences, as well as the bawdiness, nonsense, humor, and delightful storytelling simplicity of the form.

There was an Old Man of Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
His daughter, called Nan,
Ran away with a man,
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.
- Anonymous

There was a young lady of Lucca

Whose lovers completely forsook her;
She ran up a tree
And said "Fiddle-de-dee!"
Which embarrassed the people of Lucca.
- Edward Lear

There was a Young Lady whose chin

Resembled the point of a pin:
So she had it made sharp,
And purchased a harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
- Edward Lear

Few thought he was even a starter;

There were many who thought themselves smarter,
But he ended a PM
CH and OM
An earl and a Knight of the Garter.
- Clement Attlee
There once was a man from Peru
Who had a lot of growing up to do,
He’d ring a doorbell,
then run like hell,
Until the owner shot him with a .22.
- Anonymous

A bather whose clothing was strewed

By winds that left her quite nude
Saw a man come along
And unless we are wrong
You expected this line to be lewd.
- Anonymous

There once was a young lady named bright

Whose speed was much faster than light
She set out one day
In a relative way
And returned on the previous night.
- Anonymous

There was an old man with a beard

Who said, "it’s just how I feared!
Two owls and a hen
Four larks and a wren
Have all built their nests in my beard.
- Anonymous