21 Hilarious Limericks for National Limerick Day!

Today is National Limerick Day! For any readers who may not know what a limerick is, it is a five-line poem that consists of a single stanza, an AABBA rhyme scheme, and whose subject is a short, pithy tale or description. Usually, limericks are comedic, while some can be downright crude. Nearly all of them are trivial in nature, however.

 

image via john atkinson

 

Interestingly enough, the etymology of the word “limerick” has inspired some debate. Historians agree that it’s a reference to the Irish city and county of Limerick, but the particular poems actually trace back to England.

 

 

Limericks follow a very strict composition structure. All traditional limericks follow the following rules:

  • Consist of a single stanza
  • Consist of exactly five lines
  • Employ one rhyme on the first, second, and fifth lines
  • Employ a second rhyme on the third and fourth lines

 

 

image via john atkinson

 

Due to their short and simple structure, limericks are a popular form among amateur poets (like me). Among established professionals, however, a perfect example is Edward Lear, who owns particular fame as a composer of limericks.

 

Hopefully, I was able to explain what a limerick is. With all that being said, here are twenty-one hilarious limericks to celebrate the day (just don’t break a rib with all that laughter, now…).

 

image via W.Holman Hunt – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool

1. edward lear and william cosmo monkhouse

There was a young lady of Niger
who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
They returned from the ride
with the lady inside,
and the smile on the face of the tiger.

 

2. edward lear

There was an Old Man in a tree,
Who was horribly bored by a bee.
When they said “Does it buzz?”
He replied “Yes, it does!
It’s a regular brute of a bee!”

 

3. edward lear

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!”

 

4. 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.

 

image via Emil Otto (‘E.O.’) HoppÈ, vintage bromide print, 1915

5. hilaire belloc

I shoot the Hippopotamus
With bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
His hide is sure to flatten ’em.

 

 

 

image via wikipedia

6. dixon lanier merritt

A wonderful bird is the pelican;
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week,
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican!

 

 

image via wikipedia

7. ogden nash

There was a young belle of old Natchez
Whose garments were always in patchez.
When comments arose
On the state of her clothes,
She replied, “When Ah itchez, Ah scratchez.”

 

8. ogden nash

A flea and a fly in a flue
Were imprisoned, so what could they do?
Said the fly, “let us flee!”
“Let us fly!” said the flea.
So they flew through a flaw in the flue.

 

9. ogden nash

The turtle lives ‘twixt plated decks
Which practically conceal its sex.
I think it clever of the turtle
In such a fix to be so fertile.

 

10. ogden nash

The ant has made himself illustrious
Through constant industry industrious.
So what? Would you be calm and placid
If you were full of formic acid?

 

image via the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

11. charles perrault

Hickory dickory dock,
the mouse ran up the clock;
the clock struck one
and down he run;
hickory dickory dock.

 

image via wikipedia

12. robert louis stevenson

There was an old man of the Cape
Who made himself garments of crepe.
When asked, “Do they tear?”
He replied, “Here and there,
But they’re perfectly splendid for shape!”

 

 

 

image via wikipedia

13. shakespeare

The master, the swabber, the boatswain and I,
The gunner and his mate
Loved Mall, Meg and Marian and Margery,
But none of us cared for Kate;
For she had a tongue with a tang,
Would cry to a sailor, Go hang!
She loved not the savour of tar nor of pitch,
Yet a tailor might scratch her where’er she did itch:
Then to sea, boys, and let her go hang!

 

14. shakespeare

And let me the canakin clink, clink;
And let me the canakin clink
A soldier’s a man;
A life’s but a span;
Why, then, let a soldier drink.

canakin = drinking can

 

15. shakespeare

Come, thou monarch of the vine,
Plumpy Bacchus with pink eyne!
In thy fats our cares be drown’d,
With thy grapes our hairs be crown’d:
Cup us, till the world go round,
Cup us, till the world go round!

 

16. shakespeare

Do nothing but eat and make good cheer,
And praise God for the merry year;
When flesh is cheap and females dear,
And lusty lads roam here and there,
So merrily, and ever among so merrily.

 

17. anonymous

A bather whose clothing was strewed
By breezes that left her quite nude,
Saw a man come along
And, unless I am wrong,
You expect this last line to be lewd!

 

18. anonymous

There was a young lady named Alice
Who was known to have peed in a chalice.
‘Twas the common belief
It was done for relief,
And not out of protestant malice.

 

19. anonymous

There was a young lady named Yanker,
Who slept while her ship lay at anchor;
She awoke in dismay,
When she heard the mate say,
“Now hoist up the topsheet and spanker.”

 

20. anonymous

There was a young lady named Cager
Who, as the result of a wager,
Consented to fart
The complete oboe part
Of Mozart’s quartet in F major.

 

21. anonymous

A bobby of Nottingham Junction
Whose organ had long ceased to function
Deceived his good wife
For the rest of her life
With the aid of his constable’s truncheon.

 

featured image via world land trust