I wrote a small book a few years ago: The Little Goldenrod Book of Limericks. And every few years we play around with limericks in class. I try to use them to teach other things, and show quickly and easily how you can edit and play around with words. The form gets stuck in my head.

I like them because they are short, achievable, entertaining, and a way to introduce the idea of fixed form poetry. Most kids, if they give them a chance, get a few chuckles. Some love them, and some hate them. Par for the course. A limerick is a five line poem that has an AABBA rhyme scheme. The BB’s are usually shorter, and some people insist on certain syllable counts and/or that the content is obscene or slightly obscene.

We started reading Angela’s Ashes in one of my classes. Some of the book takes part in the city of Limerick in Ireland. We also work on vocabulary and learning new words… COMMENCE SEGUE …

I ran across the OEDILF (The Omnificent English Dictionary in Limerick Form) a few years ago. I love the audacious goal that mirrors the Oxford English Dictionary’s goal of so many years ago:

Our goal is to write at least one limerick for each meaning of each and every word in the English language. Our best limericks will clearly define their words in a humorous or interesting way, although some may provide more entertainment than definition, or vice versa.

They anticipate being done on September 25, 2076. What’s not to love?

For your reading pleasure, and roughly to illustrate the form, excerpts from The Little Goldenrod Book of Limericks:


Your word for the day if fallible

It’s me and it’s you – it’s allowable

There isn’t a choice

Even the prettiest voice

Can’t finish everything correctly



Sometimes I tell these little turds

To immerse themselves in words

Sometimes in class

Been known to get crass

Kills me they only use four verbs



Sometimes I wonders

What to do with numbers

If they get big enough

It gets kind of rough

And I make a mess in my unders



It’s hard to say it: “I love you.”

It’s awkward, but it’s true.

Told students this today

In the appropriate way

Now back to the work we should do.

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