Requisite Words E19 – The Limerick

This episode is for anyone who wants to spend a little time getting creative while staying at home. It’s kid-safe, although it contains farts, and acknowledges the existence of adult themes. Transcript follows the embedded player below.

Kia kaha, whānau.

Episode Music:
Be Chillin’ by Alexander Nakarada |
Music promoted by
Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Photo is by Sharon McCutcheon, courtesy of Pexels |…blur-boy-1148998/Podcasts, Poetry

A puppy, in search of her tail
Was eager, though destined to fail
She tried clockwise first
Then she spun in reverse
Until stopped in her tracks by a snail


This episode is for anyone who wants to spend a little time getting creative while staying at home. It’s kid-safe, although it does have one scatological reference and acknowledge the existence of adult themes.
Kia kaha, whanau.

Opening theme

The limerick scheme is quite clear:
AABBA and you’re there
It’s forgiving – and fine
If you choose to half-rhyme
And the package is easy to share

The metre is easily found
Anapestic, as in “underground” –
Two unstressed, then one stress
And the rhyme does the rest
To establish that limerick sound

We shared a notable poem with the same anapestic metre back in Episode 8. The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron is not a limerick, but we can hear the two unstressed followed by one stressed syllable pattern repeating clearly through it:

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

From Byron, The Destruction of Sennacherib

Once you’ve read and listened to a few limericks, it becomes easier to internalise this rhyme scheme and metre.

The tradition is somewhat risque
But we’ll kibosh the kink for today
If your palate is fonder
Of double entendre
It’s only a Google away

So for ears that are somewhat more green
The limerick form can stay clean —
But will commonly stoop
To discussion of poop
Or to bodily functions obscene

Let’s consider a few demonstrations
That fit within these stipulations:
The stories are jest
And deliver the best
When exploring their own limitations…

Vitale was running a race
When a fly splattered into his face
It said “My good sir,
I am sorry to err—
I appear to have cost you first place.”

The ant and her grasshopper mate
Were consigned to a similar fate
When rains from the west
Had flooded her nest
And they both needed help from the State

The earliest bird in the flock
Was exposed to a bit of a shock
As the hunters took aim
She was heard to exclaim
“Tomorrow I’m snoozing my clock.”

The rabbit, meanwhile, had slept
While the turtle had silently crept
To the foot of his bed
Where she stood and she stared
As he woke in the morning, she leapt!

The dragon had hiccoughs again
And it rolled around panting in pain
Til it felt something funny
From deep in its tummy
And farted a fabulous flame

If you want to write limericks too
There is little preparing to do:
If you juggle the words
The rhymes will emerge
And the sillier ones will win through

If you write a limerick of your own and would like it shared on a future episode, record it on your phone and send the file to