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Edward Lear

  • Edward Lear and AA Milne: Limericks and Hums

    Limericks are something I’ve always enjoyed. A well-crafted limerick is completely at home within itself. Short, rhythmic, rhyming, and preferably funny. A standalone giggle.

    The most famous limerick is probably this one:

    There was a young lady of Riga,
    Who smiled as she rode on a tiger;
    They returned from the ride
    With the lady inside,
    And the smile on the face of the tiger.

    Edward Lear made limericks popular. But as the example below reveals, he didn’t really understand how they work:

    There was an Old Person of Buda,
    Whose conduct grew ruder and ruder,
    Till at last with a hammer they silenced his clamor,
    By smashing that Person of Buda.

    A.A. Milne, on the other hand, didn’t write limericks, but he did understand the need for a punchline. I’m quoting The Hums of Pooh below from memory, so bear with me. No pun intended.

    It’s a very funny thing that if bears were bees,
    They’d build their nests at the bottom of trees.
    And that being so (if the bees were bears),
    I shouldn’t have to climb up all these stairs.

    This hum and the Lady of Riga are two of my favourite poems ever :)

    PS: Or did A.A. Milne write any limericks? I must find out.