What am I celebrating on tattoo Tuesday?

May 12, 2015

Edward-Lear-001Today is Limerick Day, the birthday of Edward Lear (1812) who popularized this poetic form, although limericks have been traced back to the 16th century.


Lear was also an author, illustrator, artist and musician.  He was the youngest surviving of twenty-one children and, although he suffered from a variety of physical afflictions,  remained productive throughout his life.  Skilled as a draftsman, he began selling his drawings to support himself as early as sixteen years of age. (Wikipedia)

Edward_Lear_-_Butrinto,_Albania_-_Google_Art_ProjectLear’s painting of Butrinto, Albania

Limerick expert Don Marquis identified three types of limericks: “limericks to be told when ladies are present; limericks to be told when ladies are absent but clergymen are present; and LIMERICKS.”

I do have a book of the naughty ones, but here are a few limericks which can be told when ladies and clergy are present:

There once was a lady, Ilene,
Who lived on distilled kerosene,
But she started absorbin’
A new hydrocarbon
and since then she’d never benzene.


There once was a lady from Hyde,
Who ate a green apple and died,
While her lover lamented,
The apple fermented,
and made cider inside her inside.


The limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I’ve seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.


Since it is tattoo Tuesday, here is a tattoo depicting Lear’s poem about the Owl and the Pussycat.



  1. Fraternities suffer from a fatal disease in that they sometimes consist solely of young men who can sing you limericks until you run screaming into the dark. It is our nature and that’s why we only do it when there are no girls or clergy around.

    ‘my girl’s from smith
    she talks like thith’ etc.

    The Owl and the Pussycat! A nice tat

    • Remind me to tell you the one about Thor

  2. Isaac Asimov and John Ciardi collaborated on a book series called “A Grossery of Limericks”, and I doubt any of them should be recited in public [although, of course, I have…]

    • I do admit to a weakness for the art form

  3. There once was a gal named Miss Kitty
    Who tended the bar in Dodge City
    To love Marshal Dillon she always was willin’
    Though Matt never noticed. Or did he?

    • 🙂

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