How to Write a Limerick

This page talks about how to write a limerick and offers some poem starters to help you write your own. This is just one of many pages on this website about how to write different types of poems. At the bottom of this page, you'll find links to more CWN poetry pages.

What's a limerick?

A limerick is a poetic form that can be particularly fun to read and to write. Limericks are often humorous, mean-spirited, or pornographic. I'll explain the form, and you can decide how down and dirty you want to get.

Limericks consist of five lines. The rhyme scheme is aabba. In other words, Lines One, Two, and Five all rhyme with each other, and Lines Three and Four rhyme with each other (in some limericks, Lines One and Five end with the same word and rhyme with Line Two).

Here's an example of a classic limerick by Edward Lear, where the first and last lines rhyme:

There was a Young Lady whose eyes,
Were unique as to colour and size;
When she opened them wide,
People all turned aside,
And started away in surprise.

Here's another example by Lear, where the first and last lines end with the same word:

There was an Old Person of Dover,
Who rushed through a field of blue Clover;
But some very large bees,
Stung his nose and his knees,
So he very soon went back to Dover.

The typical rhythm of a limerick is like this:

bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH
bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH bah-bah-BAH

How to write a limerick - poetry prompts

Ready to try some limericks of your own? Here are some first lines you can use to get you started if you want.

  • He was an unusual boy

  • There once was a very old dog

  • A beautiful girl in my town

  • There was a young woman whose head

  • Two poets who couldn't agree

Try your hand at more types of poems!

Choose a link below:

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