Limericks and Line Editing


I’ve been dying to get to L so I could do this one.

Limericks are five-line short poems with a distinct AABBA pattern.  The first two lines rhyme, then the two in the middle, and the last one closes the verse by rhyming with the first two.

Famous Limericks!  I took these from a well-loved old Hallmark book I have had for years.  Enjoy!

An old maid, a luckless romantic,

Said, as she crossed the Atlantic:

“Now is my chance

To find true romance

On this beautiful ship, the Titanic!”

            –William Peterson

I love this one.  If you say it really fast it’s extremely effective.

A fly and a flea in a flue

Were imprisoned, so what could they do?

Said the fly, “Let us flee!”

“Let us fly!” said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.


 Read this one out loud:

 The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher

Called a hen a most elegant creature.

The hen, pleased with that,

Laid an egg in his hat—

And thus did the hen reward Beecher.

            –Oliver Wendell Holmes (who knew?)

 People like to play with the form, too.

 There was a young man from Japan,

Who wrote verses that never would scan.

When they said, “But the thing

Doesn’t go with a swing,”

He said, “Yes, but I like to try and get as many words in the last line as I possibly can.”

            –Author Unknown

Edward Lear and Ogden Nash wrote hundreds of limericks.  Here are two:

There was an old man of Dumbree

Who taught little owls to drink tea;

For he said, “To eat mice,

Is not proper or nice,”

That amiable man of Dumbree.

            –Edward Lear

 A careless explorer named Blake

Fell into a tropical lake.

Said a fat alligator

A few minutes later,

“Very nice, but I still prefer steak.”

            –Ogden Nash

 Okay, one more:

 A jolly young fellow from Yuma

Told an elephant joke to a puma.

Now his skeleton lies

Under hot western skies.

The puma had no sense of huma.

            –Ogden Nash

 From Wikipedia:  This is the first version of this.  I’m sure you know the other one!

There once was a man from Nantucket

Who kept all his cash in a bucket.

    But his daughter, named Nan,

    Ran away with a man

And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

            –1902, Princeton Tiger

 And finally, here’s one I wrote many years ago:

 I once saw a little brown rat

Sitting astride a housecat.

When I asked him why,

He said in reply,

“Shh!  He don’t have a clue where I’m at!”

            –Elizabeth West


I hate:  line editing.

This is where you read each line to check for spelling, grammar, and things like style, tone, and consistency.  It’s where you find mistakes like writing numbers wrong, using a weird spelling of a term, not italicizing thoughts consistently, and other snafus.

The part of editing I like is rewriting and revising.  Going over each line makes me want to pour gasoline on my manuscript and set it on fire.  It’s soooo tedious.  But I have to do it, and the best way is to print it out and check each line.

And when I’m done using the pretty colored editing pencils, I like to color a picture. Then I curl up in a ball and sob.

Image: nuttakit /

Line editing makes you feel like a horrible writer.  Remember, nobody writes perfect early drafts.  With the first draft especially, your creative rush will outpace the mechanics of your writing at times.  You’ll leave marks.  This is where you’ll find them.

The computer makes searching for redundancies or mistakes easier, with the Find/Replace function in Word.  You still have to read it in hard copy, but a lot of things can be changed before you print.  Yay!

It also makes me feel good, because I’m cleaning up the mess.  But only when I’m finished!



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