Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Geography of Limericks

April is poetry month. Celebrate with limericks!

Children love limericks. The short form, the rhyme, the insistent rhythm, and the silly content never fail to inspire giggles in kids of any age. The limerick is a form of humorous poetry popularized by Edward Lear in his Book of Nonsense, first published in 1846. The history of the limerick goes back many hundreds of years before that, however. The limerick is the only fixed poetic form that is known to have originated in the English language.

Modern limericks generally have five lines - three long and two short , with the rhyming pattern aabba.  The frst, second and fifth lines have three feet (da da da/da da da/da dum). The third and fourth lines have two feet (da da da/da dum). Don't worry about the technical details with students, just enjoy them.

Many limericks are set in a specific geographical location (Peru, Chicago, Nantucket), so part of the fun can be looking up where the limerick takes place.

Here are some limericks to share. I suggest first reading them aloud to students, then reading them chorally,

and finally having the students read them on their own.

Once kids are familiar with the form, they may want to try to write some on their own. I would recommend this for grades 4 and up, because the rhyming can get pretty tricky.

A Geography of Limericks by Russ Walsh

A cyclist from central Quebec
Was involved in a ten cycle wreck.
          Getting up from the dirt,
          She said, "I'm not hurt,
But this sport is a pain in the neck!"

A young boy from North Bangor, Maine,
Loved to splash in the mud and the rain.
          He said, “I’m seeing how wet
          I can possibly get.”
And his mom washed him right down the drain.

A ballerina from Paris, France
Invited a bear to a dance.
          When they danced a ballet
          He got carried away,
And knocked down two trees and four plants.

A skier from northern Brazil
Skis mountains with marvelous skill.
          While perched on one ski,
           He ran into a tree.
    Since then his whole life’s been downhill.

A koala from Queensland, Australia,
Grew an amazing azalea.
          He sat by the hour
          Admiring his flower,
While his friends cried, “Koala we hail ya!”

A lion from old Cameroon,
Stood in the rain, night and noon.
          And as you might bet
          He got terribly wet,
And wrinkled up just like a prune.

An acrobatic young man from Malaysia
Performs feats that will truly amaze ya’.
          Turning cartwheels one day,
          He got carried away
And he spun all the way across Asia.

A small boy from fog bound Chicago
Said, “Which way did my Ma and my Pa go?
          There were standing right here,
          Then I lost them I fear
And I can’t see in all of this fog, Oh!”

A poor lad from Hope, North Dakota
Drank nothing but black cherry soda.
          Drinking glass after glass
         “Till he filled up with gas,
And floated on past Minnesota.

A brave athlete from Azerbaijan
Gamely entered a triatholon.
          She grew plenty weary,
          But with the crowd cheering
She just kept right on carrying-on.

An unhappy boy from Burundi
Ran away one cloudy gray Sunday.
          Staying outside all night
          Gave him such a fright,
He came home by mid-morning on Monday.

@copywright 2020


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