Sunday, February 20, 2011

Limerick on dirty limericks [family version]

[Note: Yesterday I posted the original version of this account, then overnight had the unsettling thought that some wanderers here might have preferred an expurgated version. Fortunately, I could think of two men whom to imitate. The earlier was Thomas Bowdler (1754-1825), who among other gifts to mankind produced a family version of Shakespeare; the later was the exchange group's own classmate, former U.S. Senator and Attorney General John Ashcroft, who covered up some objectionable appendages around the capitol.]

On Tuesday, when that old friend wrote me and the half-dozen other classmates about reciting Sonnet 18 to his wife, he addressed me as the poet laureate of the group, which flattered me, I told him, because about all I'd written lately had been limericks.
    A flurry of exchanges about Shakespeare's sonnets ensued among about half the members of the group. That afternoon, I asked a friend on the afternoon bus I take to go from my office to where I board my commute van home whether he knew what a limerick was. I asked him because I knew that he was taking high school level classes and one of them involved reading and discussing poetry. He didn't seem to know what a limerick was, however; at least he wasn't familiar with the term. So I recited one for him, one of the earliest I ever heard and also one of my favorites, connected as it is with the exchange group:
There once was a barmaid at Yale
On whose palm was tattooed the price of pale ale;
      And on her hand's back,
      For those who sight lacked,
Was the same information in braille.
A few hours later, one of the exchange group members who hadn't said anything yet offered
One final thought, and this is purely from memory:
There once was a sailor named Bates,
Who could do a fandango on skates.
      But he fell on his sword,
      Which severed his chord,
And rendered him songless at fêtes.
    And I replied by quoting the barmaid limerick. At which point another member not yet heard from offered
This one is relevant for Mo and [another member of the group who works in a town with at least one covered shopping center]:
There was a young lady named Edith Hall,
Who used dynamite to stop and end it all.
      They found her lower half 
      Hanging from a gaff,
And the upper half of her in the mall.
Well, as if it hadn't gotten bad enough already, the sailor-on-skates member returned to add that
I wasn’t going to send this one, as it usually makes any female cringe, but Mo, I take this as a challenge.
There once was a man from Nantucket,
Whose nose was so long he could suck it.
      He said with a grin,
      As he wiped off his chin,
If my eyebrow were that long I'd pluck it.
It makes females cringe?
Some limericks are so awfully bad
They make both men and women sad;
      Why are limericks so dirty,
      Are their authors that flirty?
Couldn't they just bowdlerize and be glad?
    And that is my title limerick on [the raunchier variety of traditional] dirty limericks. Recite a mildly dirty limerick, and it'll more than likely go downhill from there.


  1. I'd sear there was a dirtier version of number 4 earlier.

  2. Beg pardon? Bowdlerization sometimes requires iteration. For example, I changed the barmaid's "virtuous knee" (for "those who couldn't see") to "hand's back" (for "those who sight lacked").
        And, as you know, this blog's editorial policy calls for liberal revision to serve truth and commendable style.