While people can argue: who wrote the best love poems? Who wrote the best haikus? No one can argue with the fact that Edward Lear wrote the best limericks. Limericks are a type of nonsense poem which where created in the early 18th century. These are often humorous and have a strict AABBA structure. An example of a limerick is this:
As you can see, Lear uses witty and well formed lines to form a poem which, reading for the umpteenth time, still makes me smile.
Lear uses the specific structure to give a very short insight into people around the world’s life. He does this by focusing on a specific aspect of that person’s life. For example, he doesn’t go into detail about this person’s hair, or their family life, but he makes a short, quick summary of just one thing which makes up his subjects life. This makes his poem very enjoyable to a reader who wants a laugh, rather than a serious matter which could possibly bore the reader.
As well as that, Lear uses different people’s nationalities to make every one of his limericks different, yet follow a very set structure. He begins by writing of a person from a certain country. He then proceeds to write about a problem that they face; usually something funny and trivial. In his following two lines, he writes of a specific and surprising occurrence which solves his problems. Finally, In Lear’s last line, he gives a very quick summary of the poem, or perhaps solves the problem in this line. This is a really good thing as it inspires people to write their own limericks without thinking it is too hard. Here is one I made up about my 3 year old cousin.
There once was a big* girl called Poppy,
Of whom there could be no copy,
When she was eating,
She needed high seating,
And when she was tired she went floppy.
Overall, I think Edward Lear is an incredible man who has done incredible things for English poetry. So go on, write your own!
*As you may know, all toddlers insist on being big boys or big girls.