Everybody needs a bit of silliness in their lives from time to time and National Limerick Day provides the perfect annual opportunity. Celebrated each year on the 12th May the familiar five line verse is renowned for its humorous, sometimes bawdy themes. Instantly recognisable from the rhythm of the verse they are cleverly constructed to put a smile on the face.
National Limerick Day is set on 12th May to mark the birthday of Edward Lear, the English writer known for his works of nonsensical prose and poetry. It was Edward Lear who was to popularise the Limerick in his A Book of Nonsense, published 1846. His limericks were popular then and this form of nonsense literature has managed to retain its appeal to this day.
Limericks will normally have the first, second and final lines ending with the same rhyme, while the third and fourth shorter lines have their own rhyme as illustrated below:
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’
This style of verse can act as a great introduction to the idea of poetry for children and National Limerick Day helps to maintain awareness of this brand of poem. Although limericks were not invented by Edward Lear, holding National Limerick Day on his birthday is a suitable nod to the man who brought them to the larger public’s attention.