Thursday, September 20

Poetry Friday: Limicks by Ogden Nash

First, that is not a typo. Nash titled these little things Limicks and without finding any hard documentation I believe these were his invention, an abbreviation of a short-form Limerick: short one line, each line short three syllables of a traditional Limerick. I read once (or did I dream it) that some have confused the Limick with a Clerihew but (nerd alert) The Limick's rhyme structure is AABA and the Clerihew if AABB. There are some other differences, but do they really matter?

Nash was one of those mid-century writers of humorous verse who seems to have fallen out of fashion lately. The only people who I hear ask about his books are grandparents and great-grandparents and they think it's a shame his poems aren't widely available. I partly agree because while he did write short ditties that could hold their own against Lear and Florian there is also his much longer poetry which, quite frankly, bores; the observations aren't as fresh as they might have seemed in the 30's and 40's and, on the whole, has the feel of work that was composed and paid for by the word.

That said, I do prize my separating-at-the-spine, acid brown pocket book edition from 1959 that is the 30th anniversary reprinting, and with it the (re)discovery of a poetic form perhaps not practiced anywhere else since. Ladies and gentlemen, good people all, I now present
by Ogden Nash

An old person of Troy
Is so prudish and coy
That it doesn't know yet
If it's a girl or a boy.

Two nudists of Dover,
Being purple all over,
Were munched by a cow
When mistaken for clover.
What? Huh? Only two? Wait, this isn't the book I thought it was (curses!) and it's only selections from that earlier volume! Grrrr. I know there are at least three or four more. Well, now what am I going to do?

A poet named Nash
Scribbled lines in a flash,
Though the limicks he wrote
Didn't raise any cash.

Just tossed that one off. Doesn't seem too hard. Let's see what y'all got out there. Anyone game for adding your own limicks in the comments?

Sara's hosting Poetry Friday this week over at Read Write Believe. Check it out!


Sara said...

I have the "Giant Cardinal edition" from 1962. It was my dad's, and I read it as a child, and somehow managed to sneak it out of the house when I went to college.

A blogger named E. File
traveled many an e-mile
researching his pithy post about Nash.
His pay? A comment. Better or worse than cash?

Karen Edmisten said...

I'm glad I stopped in
for t'would have been a sin
to have missed all this fun
amidst poetic kin.

Anonymous said...

I never knew about limicks. Pigericks, yes. Entirely different. Thanks!

John Mutford said...

An old Scottish cowboy,
nothing but a decoy.
Send him on ahead-
he's not the real McCoy.

--John Mutford

Sara said...

I just realized I wrote a clerihew instead of a limick. I blame it on the party going on over at my blog.

Can I change that last line to:
His pay? A comment (from a clueless poet) and a e-smile. ;)

david elzey said...

Sara, I was so tickled you took up the charge I didn't even notice! You can blame the party, but what's my excuse? I'll take the e-smile, however, thank you.

Thanks, John and Karen, for your poems as well.

Susan: for the clueless out there (perhaps only me) what's a Pigerick?

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm busy preparing for a trip today--otherwise I'd attempt a limick. Maybe I'll write some limicks while I'm up in--or should I say down Maine?

Anonymous said...

A little bird named Roy
Once saw a little boy
Snatched his hat
Mistaking it for a toy.

eh... just something off the top of my head; not even sure if it makes sense!