Book Report: Limericks by Edward Lear &c (1980)

Book coverThis book is just what it says: A collection of limericks, the five line poem type.

The book contains 212 limericks by Edward Lear, the English writer who popularized the form. His limericks are a bit of nonsence, and the fifth line pretty much just restates the first line without the clever twist that later limericks employed. So we get things like this:

There was a Young Person in Pink,
Who called out for something to drink;
But they said, “O my daughter,
There’s nothing but water!”
Which vexed that Young Person in Pink.


There was an Old Person of Fife,
Who was greatly disgusted with life;
They sang him a ballad,
And fed him on salad,
Which cured that old Person of Fife.

After the main course of Lear, we get 28 limericks from Punch magazine and then 20 other limericks. These last 48 are in the contemporary form with a little more punchline to the last line, but none of them stuck with me or inspired me to memorize them and tell them to others.

I’m not really consumed with the urge to try out the form, either.

So skip this book unless you’re a real scholar on poetry forms or want something to browse through during football games and don’t mind re-reading the same limerick a couple of times because you’d forgotten you’d read it before third down.

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2 thoughts on “Book Report: Limericks by Edward Lear &c (1980)

  1. I’m considering reading some poetry–something I haven’t done regularly since college. While I was in the mood, I shopped around for an annotated collection of Kipling’s poetry, but didn’t find anything that fit what I had in mind.

  2. I don’t see much Kipling in the wild at book fairs, so it might be hard to get a hold of that cheaply. But you can’t really go wrong with Kipling poetry or prose.

    I’d recommend getting an anthology of poetry that includes a number of genres and time periods to find what really appeals to you. Also, most poems in anthologies aren’t too long–nothing like Wordsworth or Lord Byron’s novels in verse which can be a bit tedious especially if you’re just getting into or back into poetry. Also, anthologies are pretty common and inexpensive since they’re often textbooks for intro to poetry classes that are immediately cast off. Also, there were a lot of short poetry anthologies containing public domain poems that were published in the latter part of the 20th century that are good entry points. Barnes and Noble books did a pile of them, and they’re pretty good.

    Once you figure out what you like, you can delve a little more deeply into individual authors.

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