I was just reading a post about limericks and it reminded me of one that I wrote in high school:
We once had a test in French class
That everyone failed en masse.
Madame had a fit.
We did better in Lit
’Cause at least there, everyone passed.
Apparently the form has little to do with Limerick, Ireland, although some people speculate the verse form might have been built on an old song, “Come to Limerick.” According to Wikipedia, most limericks are at least slightly obscene. “From a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.”
I like the idea that poetry can be used to transgress societal taboos. We should also remember that one of the jobs of the Celtic bards was to use their songs not just to commemorate their patrons’ activities but also to mock or shame patrons who had acted unjustly or with a lack of hospitality. Perhaps editorial cartoonists are filling that role now along with political comics such as John Stewart or John Oliver. Then I just Googled political limerick and came up with 261,000 results, so maybe things have not changed as much as I thought.
“Limerick (poetry).” Wikipedia. 6 Feb. 2015. Web. 16 Feb. 2015.
The wikipedia entry could furnish the start of limerick:
From a folkloric point of view,
The form takes what is taboo . . .
Transgressive, yes. Hence the enduring popularity! We’re all just a bunch of giant kids, no?
You know, I’d love to see John Stewart do a limerick on his show. Or Letterman or Fallon. That would be fun. I can’t read them too much though because my brain starts thinking in limerick very quickly and I run around like a bad Dr. Seus imitator. 🙂
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