Poetry Prompts: The Limerick


Cheeky, witty and often rude, the limerick is the class clown of poetry!

They’re so much fun to share, and easy to write — even if you’ve never looked deeply into how they work.

I’m sure you’re well-versed in them already so, like a limerick, this post will be to the point!

Common misconception

In doing some research for this post, I was surprised to find that the limerick didn’t originate in the town of Limerick.

In fact, where and when the form itself came from is a mystery.

However, it’s generally considered that it was named for a nonsense 1700s parlour game that included the line “Won’t you come to Limerick?”

They were popularised by Edward Lear in the 1800s, and so, in honour of Lear’s birthday, 12th May is now International Limerick Day.

Here’s just one example of his:

There was an Old Man with a beard,

Who said, “It is just as I feared!—

Two Owls and a Hen,

Four Larks and a Wren,

Have all built their nests in my beard.

I highly recommend looking for more to read.

I had a lot of fun looking for one to use as an example!

Hickory Dickory Dock

The limerick follows a simple pattern that you probably know by heart. If you’re unsure, the nursery rhyme “Hickory Dickory Dock” is a limerick.

They have five lines in a single stanza, with an AABBA rhyme scheme.

Your turn!

Your challenge this week is to write a limerick and recite it to somebody, or share it with a friend. It’s sure to brighten their day.

Or share it with us on Twitter!

Do you have little ones to entertain? Why not see what they come up with?

It could be pretty entertaining!

For more poetry prompts, click the tag below.

Looking to write something slightly more long-form, but need inspiration? Check out our story starters here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.