Like most people, I have an ambivalent response to Lear's limericks. Sure, they practically defined the genre - as the following piece puts it, Although at the Limericks of Lear, We may feel a temptation to sneer, We should never forget That we owe him a debt For his work as the first pioneer. -- Langford Reed but nonetheless the temptation to sneer is undeniably there. And the reason is not all that hard to see - despite all their redeeming qualities, Lear's limericks are *boring*. Also annoying is the fact that the first and last lines end with the same word - two of the pleasures of modern limericks are the cleverness of the rhymes and the (usually humourous) unexpectedness of the ending, both of which are lost here. Note: No, the formatting is not messed up. Lear really did write his limericks in four line form, with an internal rhyme in the third; the split into two short lines came later. On Limericks: limerick: a popular form of short, humorous verse that is often nonsensical and frequently ribald. It consists of five lines, rhyming aabba, and the dominant metre is anapestic, with two metrical feet in the third and fourth lines and three feet in the others. The origin of the limerick is unknown, but it has been suggested that the name derives from the chorus of an 18th-century Irish soldiers' song, "Will You Come Up to Limerick?" To this were added impromptu verses crowded with improbable incident and subtle innuendo. The first collections of limericks in English date from about 1820. Edward Lear, who composed and illustrated those in his Book of Nonsense (1846), claimed to have gotten the idea from a nursery rhyme beginning "There was an old man of Tobago." A typical example from Lear's collection is this verse:There was an Old Man who supposed/That the street door was partially closed;/But some very large rats Ate his coats and his hats,/While that futile Old Gentleman dozed. And later certain metric forms associated with heroic poetry, such as the hexameter or alexandrine, arouse expectations of pathos, of the exalted; to pour into these epic molds some homely, trivial content--"beautiful soup, so rich and green/ waiting in a hot tureen"--is an almost infallible comic device. the rolling rhythms of the first lines of a limerick that carry, instead of a mythical hero such as hector or achilles, a young lady from ohio for a ride make her ridiculous even before the expected calamities befall her. -- EB Parody: Parody? Of a limerick? Not the world's easiest task, one might have thought, but Lear's somewhat laboured style leaves him wide open to attack, as taken full advantage of in the following brilliant piece of verse There was an old man with a beard A funny old man with a beard He had a big beard A great big old beard That amusing old man with a beard -- John Clarke Links: Lear's nonsense verse was far better than his limericks. we've run a few examples: poem #165 (with biography), poem #297, and poem #356. And for a comprehensive webpage on limericks: [broken link] http://bruichladdich.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/limericksdir/limericks.html m.