Monday, March 17

HOW TO write a limerick


Rainbows, pots of gold, leprechauns and limericks--it's all in good fun this St. Patrick's Day. Here are a few tips for writing the the perfect St. Patrick's Day poem from Poetry4Kids:

Limericks are one of the most fun and well-known poetic forms. No one knows for sure where the name “limerick” comes from, but most people assume it is related to the county of Limerick, in Ireland. The reason limericks are so much fun is because they are short, rhyming, funny, and have a bouncy rhythm that makes them easy to memorize. In this lesson, I’ll show you how you can write your own limericks in just a few easy steps.

THE RULES OF LIMERICKS
Limericks, like all poetic forms, have a set of rules that you need to follow. The rules for a limerick are fairly simple:
  1. They are five lines long.
  2. Lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme with one another.
  3. Lines 3 and 4 rhyme with each other.
  4. They have a distinctive rhythm.
  5. They are usually funny.
RHYMING A LIMERICK
The rhyme scheme of a limerick is known as “AABBA.” This is because the last words in lines 1, 2, and 5 rhyme. Those are the “A’s” in the rhyme scheme. The “B’s” are the last words of lines 3 and 4. Let me give you an example:

There was a young fellow named Hall

Who fell in the spring in the fall.
‘Twould have been a sad thing
Had he died in the spring,
But he didn’t—he died in the fall.

– Anonymous

Notice that the words, “Hall,” “fall,” and “fall” all rhyme. Those are the “A” words in the “AABBA” rhyme scheme. Also notice that “thing” and “spring” rhyme. Those are the “B” words in the rhyme scheme.

LIMERICK RHYTHM
Now let’s take a look at the rhythm of the limerick. It goes by the complicated name “anapaestic,” but you don’t need to worry about that. What I want you to notice when you read or recite a limerick is that the first two lines and the last line have three “beats” in them, while the third and fourth lines have two “beats.” In other words, the rhythm of a limerick looks like this:

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


The rhythm doesn’t have to exactly match this, but it needs to be close enough that it sounds the same when you read it. For example, using the limerick above about the fellow from Hall, if we emphasize the beats, it reads like this:

There WAS a young FELLow named HALL

Who FELL in the SPRING in the FALL.
'Twould have BEEN a sad THING
Had he DIED in the SPRING,
But he DIDn’t—he DIED in the FALL.


YOUR TURN
Now it’s your turn to see if you can write a limerick of your own. Remember to follow these steps:
  1. Choose the name of a person or place and write the first line.
  2. Look in a rhyming dictionary for words that rhyme with your person or place name.
  3. Write line 2 and 5 to rhyme with the first line.
  4. Now write lines 3 and 4 with a different rhyme.
  5. When you are done writing, read your limerick out loud to see if it has the right rhythm; three “beats” on lines 1, 2, and 5, and two “beats” on lines 3 and 4, as shown above. If not, see if you can rewrite some words to get the rhythm right.
Have fun writing your limerick!

Image credit: YouTube
Contributed by Danyelle, Fairmont Private Schools


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