Stories We Like: Novels For Language Lovers
nonsense verse of five lines, 1896, perhaps from the county and city in Ireland, but if so the connection is obscure. Often (after OED's Murray) attributed to a party game in which each guest in turn made up a nonsense verse and all sang a refrain with the line "Will you come up to Limerick?" but he reported this in 1898 and earlier evidence is wanting. Or perhaps from Learic, from Edward Lear (1812-1888) English humorist who popularized the form. Earliest examples are in French, which further complicates the quest for the origin. OED's first record of the word is in a letter of Aubrey Beardsley. The place name is literally "bare ground," from Irish Liumneach, from lom "bare, thin." It was famous for hooks.
The limerick may be the only traditional form in English not borrowed from the poetry of another language. Although the oldest known examples are in French, the name is from Limerick, Ireland. John Ciardi suggests that the Irish Brigade, which served in France for most of the eighteenth centiry, might have taken the form to France or developed an English version of a French form. ... The contemporary limerick usually depends on a pun or some other turn of wit. It is also likely to be somewhat suggestive or downright dirty." [Miller Williams, "Patterns of Poetry," Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University, 1986]
A form of humorous five-line verse, such as:
There once was a young man from Kew
Who found a dead mouse in his stew.
Said the waiter, “Don't shout
Or wave it about,
Or the rest will be wanting one too!”
county, southwestern Ireland, in the province of Munster. Its northern boundary, with County Clare, is the River Shannon and its estuary. The River Maigue bisects the county and flows north into the Shannon. On the west the boundary with County Kerry runs through plateaus 1,000-2,000 feet high (300-600 metres). On the east the boundary with Tipperary runs from the Shannon to Slievefelim (1,524 feet [465 metres]), then across the Golden Vale southward to the Galtee mountains to the summit of Galtymore (3,018 feet [920 metres]). The southern boundary, with Cork, follows the Ballyhoura Hills, a continuation of the line of the Galtees. Lowland Limerick is mainly a rolling landscape with a variety of glacial drifts diversified by hills, including a number of isolated volcanic hills. The peat bog that formerly covered parts of the lowland has been largely removed, and pastoral farming dominates. The farms are about 50-80 acres (20-32 hectares) in size. There are remains of round towers at Ardpatrick and Dysert, of prehistoric monuments at Lough Gur, and of numerous monasteries in the city of Limerick and elsewhere.