Happy Birthday to Edward Lear!

Illustration by Cathy Simpson 

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!’

There once was a poet named Edward…

The English poet who popularized the limerick was born May 12, 1812, to Ann and Jeremiah Lear in thevillageofHolloway,England, nearLondon.  Born the twenty-first child, Edward Lear was raised by his eldest sister, also named Ann, both of whom made their way together after the family suffered financial travesty.  Lear suffered many health problems in life as well, including epilepsy, asthma, depression, and partial blindness.

As an author, Lear published A Book of Nonsense in 1846, turning limericks into a poetic mainstay.  However, Lear’s limericks distinguished themselves from what are common today in at least two respects: he wrote in multiple formats (anywhere from two to five lines), and in his four and five-line limericks, would frequently end the first and last lines with the same word or phrase, as opposed to today’s more whimsical rhyming technique.

The limerick, believed to have derived its name from the third largest city in Ireland, is composed of the following characteristics: 1) it contains five lines, 2) follows either an anapestic (two short syllables and one long syllable) or amphibrach (one stressed syllable flanked by two unstressed syllables) meter, and 3) typically has nine syllables on the first, second, and fifth lines, all of which end in rhyme, with five syllables in the third and fourth lines, ending in their own rhyme scheme.  Some variation may occur to accommodate an extra syllable in a word choice.

The following limerick below was created especially for you.    Enjoy!

Friendship by Heart

The best of friends show that they care,
The bond shared between them is rare,
Heart-to-heart’s on the phone,
So they’re never alone,
There’s comfort they’ll always be there