The funny poems of today have a past in literature history and you can find limericks that are hundreds of years old. Limericks are a basic form for many children's poems. Different poets from the past, many of whom are anonymous to us today, have used the simple limerick in funny poems that are still popular in classic literature.
Limericks are a historical style of poetry of which examples exist from the sixteenth century. Mostly meant to be funny, early limericks were used to describe a person and their hometown with the first line sometimes being repeated as the last line or a variation could be the first line is related to the last line through words or rhyming.
A limerick will have classic rhythms that make it easy to identify the limerick style and these rhythms work to dramatize the unexpected word or concept that makes the poem funny or memorable. Not all limericks are funny although some limericks can be ribald and strange. The limerick form has always been popular with poets for creating funny poems because the dramatic stops and starts of the phrasing grab the listener's attention and are used for the emphasis of clever word use.
Edward Lear wrote many popular nonsense poems including limericks and here is one of his limericks of 1846, which provides an example of the limerick form and rhythm.
"There was an Old Man of the Isles,
There are many types of funny poems and some of the most famous are limericks, which have sometimes had both famous and unknown poets. Limericks continue to be used to teach children how to write funny poems because of its obvious rhythm and short length.
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