Monday, November 2, 2015

Limericks for Mental Health


Annamaria on Monday

For many years now, I have written limericks to let off steam. Perhaps the rigidity of the form forces me into a more logical place in my brain, which would be very helpful when I am about to go over an emotional cliff. Limericks have been a source of glee and groans and, I think, sanity in our house since my husband and I got together. Though he was always a classy man and often hilarious at the higher levels of humor, there ran beneath his quick wit an indomitable sophomoric streak, often fueled by the limericks he memorized in his youth. Those included many I cannot publish here. According to Wikipedia:

“A limerick is a kind of a witty, humorous, or nonsense poem, especially one in five-line anapestic or amphibrachic meter with a strict rhyme scheme (AABBA), which is sometimes obscene with humorous intent. The form can be found in England as of the early years of the 18th century. It was popularized by Edward Lear in the 19th century, although he did not use the term.

The following example of a limerick is of unknown origin.

The lim'rick packs laughs anatomical
In space that is quite economical,
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean,
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.”



 Here is one of David’s unclean favorites that (with two small changes) I think I can safely include.  He recited it whenever anyone mentioned the woman’s name:

There once was a woman named Harriet,
Who dreamed she made love in a chariot
With seventeen sailors
A monk and two tailors
Dick Cheney and Judas Iscariot



David and I once won a limerick contest. We were traveling in Wales and stayed at a hotel that had once been a castle. The hotel staged a fake medieval dinner each evening in which, in addition to eating lamb stew with one’s fingers, the guests were invited to submit a limerick to a contest. The first line was given.  The weekend we were there, the required first line was: “A Squire with a hole in his shoe.”

The wittiest Brit wrote took second place with:

"A Squire with a hole in his shoe
Invented a substance called glue.
The source was a horse.
He boiled it, of course,
And the smell killed a family in Crewe."

But to the great surprise of all, David and I – two Yanks, no less – took first place with this little ditty:


"A Squire with a hole in his shoe
Was badly in need of a screw.
With his tool in his hand,
He scoured the land,
But decided a small nail would do."

A few years ago, while renovating our apartment, an architect appointed by the building management was delaying our simple project for months and running up his bill, which we were required to pay.  It was costing me sleep as well as lucre. While I lay awake at night fuming, I preserved my sanity by writing a cycle of twelve limericks describing how an architect by that SOB's name destroyed every great building project in history.  I give you one stanza of my poem, concealing his identity by substituting the words “Sir Note:”




To span an English river of renown,
“Let’s build London Bridge,” decreed the Crown.
But then enter Sir Note,
Who declared and I quote,
“If we never put it up, it can’t fall down.”

By the way, I gave him a Spanish-i-fied  moniker and killed him in my second novel—Invisible Country.  That character, Ricardo Yotte’ is so hideous that it is almost impossible to figure out who killed him, since everyone in the village wanted to.

Not all my limericks have been pejorative.  Some celebrated my friends—their birthdays, their achievements.  But I wrote my favorite one just for fun.  Here is my proudest limerick achievement:



In the subways of Paris, his home
This elf forever will roam.
So if you hear “Tick tock.”
Don’t think it’s a clock
Undoubtedly, it’s Metro Gnome.


I should apologize, but I can’t. 

21 comments:

  1. These are absolutely great limericks. A second career awaits! Limericks are for more than kids.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Sujata. The ones my husband used to recite were certainly not G rated. But they were hilarious.

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  2. The only clean limerick I know is:

    There was a young man from Blight
    Who travelled much faster than light.
    He set off one day
    In a relative way
    And returned on the previous night.

    On the other hand:
    A lovely lass from Aberistwyth
    Took grain to the mill to make grist with.
    The miller's son, Jack,

    etc!

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    Replies
    1. Stan, I was with my brother, the physicist when I received this. He knew it by jeart, of course. :)

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  3. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant, sis.

    I love amphibrachs and anapests, though I must admit I rarely see them outside the Museum of Natural Histrionics.

    Sorry about that, but I'm warming up for lunch today with EvKa and Tim.

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  4. Oh, no! No, limericks again,
    They're a curse and a crime and a sin.
    They limpen my tool
    And make me a fool
    As my implant is popped with a pin.

    Just think what's in store for you today, Jeff...

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the warning, I'll be sure to bring the pin.

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    2. Okay, let's have the full report on this famous dinner that you all had without me.

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    3. I'll leave it to Jeff to file the full report, as he needs the self-confidence boosting exercise after catching endless flack for his Hard Wear. 'Nuff said.

      (But a GREAT time was had by the rest of us, and Barbara is the nicest person you could ask for. How Jeff ended up with her... one of the few things that has ever baffled me.)

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    4. HI Everett, I'm so sorry I once again missed you in Portland. I'll take better aim next time. Badabing and a bang
      .

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    5. You were in Portland? I thought it was just Tim, Sharon and me, and Barbara and me. It *was* a PITA taking that Hard Wear off and putting it back on every time I changed identities. It's amazing that people are fooled by a simple change of clothing, never realizing that a simple, down-to-earth programmer is actually Writerman, Revealer of All Things Geek. er... Greek.

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  5. This was FANTASTIC. I so needed a laugh this morning, and you gave me several. Never saw the "little nail" coming.

    Also...it's yet another thing we have in common. I'm a lifelong lover (and writer) of limericks too :)

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  6. Terrific! Most of the ones I hear all start with, "There once was a lady from France." These are much better.

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  7. Thank you lil, Susan and Jono. Bringing laughs is my pleasure.

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  8. Once a fair lassie wrote fiction
    It was better than being in her kitchen,
    She and her dog
    signed up for a blog,
    causing international friction.

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    Replies
    1. A lady named Caro, a Scot
      Did what everyone thought she should not.
      In position astride
      she delighted to ride,
      And got her horse up to a trot.

      Delete
    2. Hmmm... how about:

      There once was a lady named Caro,
      Riding bareback and barebutt like a Pharaoh.
      The stallion broke stride,
      And the lady, she cried,
      "I'm riding naked to Rio de Janeiro."

      You know, we could start a whole new type of poem, the Carorrick...

      Delete
  9. Who knew? What sheer genius is on this post and the comments are hilarious.

    So glad I tuned in today.

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