Saturday, 16 June 2012

The only three limericks I find amusing, apart from Lear's


I hate limericks - so unfunny - and hate dirty jokes ditto - but I enjoy these three even though they are risqué, or were when they were written very long ago:

Whenever a fellow named Rex, 
Flashed his very small organ of sex,
He always got off,
For the judges would scoff,
De minimis non curat lex.

There was a young girl of East Anglia
Whose loins were a tangle of ganglia.
Her mind was a webbing
Of Freud and Kraft-Ebing 

And all sorts of other new-fanglia.

There was a young lady named Gloria
Who slept with Sir Gerald du Maurier,
Then with six other men,
Sir Gerald (again),
And the band at the Waldorf-Astoria.

I am a passionate believer in annotating books in ink and interestingly I notice that a volume of Lear's limericks which belonged to the comedian Ronnie Barker is being (or has been) auctioned complete with his manuscript improvements. 

The opening page of a book of Edward Lear poetry annotated by Ronnie Barker

Barker wrote as an introduction:

There was an old fossil named Lear,
Who's verses were boring and drear. 
His last lines were worst - just the same as the first! 
So I've tried to improve on them here.

Lear wrote:
There was an Old Man of the Dee,
Who was sadly annoyed by a flea;
When he said 'I will scratch it',
They gave him a hatchet,
Which grieved that Old Man of the Dee.

Barker altered the final line to read, "and cut his leg off at the knee." 
He finally seems to have given up on Lear:

There was a Young Lady of Clare,

Who was sadly pursued by a bear,

When she found she was tired,

She abruptly expired,

And so do these rhymes - in despair!"'

Of course I take Barker's point but I think Edward Lear's limericks have a surreal poignant charm that other limericks cannot match. The sad beauty of childhood.


  1. There was a young man of Japan
    Whose limericks never would scan.
    When asked why this was,
    He replied "It's because
    I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever I possibly can."

  2. Oh yes, that's another one I like. I hate the obscene ones. So unfunny and life un-enhancing.

  3. Here's one more by Mgr. Ronald Knox

    There was a young man who said, "God
    Must think it exceedingly odd
    If he finds that this tree
    Continues to be
    When there's no one about in the Quad."

    Dear Sir:
    Your astonishment's odd:
    I am always about in the Quad.
    And that's why the tree
    Will continue to be,
    Since observed by
    Yours faithfully,

  4. @GylesB1: #NationalLimerickDay:
    There was a young man from Peru Whose limericks stopped at line two

  5. A vice both obscene and unsavory
    Holds the bishop of Barking in slavery.
    With lascivious howls
    He deflowers young owls
    That he lures to an underground aviary.