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Musings & Memories


By Doug Dezotell
Posted 4/22/23

Many of us can look back to our earliest years of life and remember the various forms of literature we were exposed to.

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes, short stories and poetry, and of course …

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Musings & Memories



Many of us can look back to our earliest years of life and remember the various forms of literature we were exposed to.

Fairy tales and nursery rhymes, short stories and poetry, and of course the stories from the Bible.

It was back in elementary school that I first learned about a form of poetry known as a Limerick.

Here is an example of a limerick from 1902 written by Dayton Voorhees:

There once was a man from Nantucket,

Who kept all his cash in a bucket.

But his daughter, named Nan,

Ran away with a man,

And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

I’ve always liked that one. And I remember having a lot of fun writing limericks back then myself.

A Limerick is defined as “a short and fun five-line poem with a distinctive rhythm. The first, second and fifth lines are longer than the third and fourth lines.”

Although we’re not certain of the origin of limerick poems; some people say it started in France, and others say they started in England, while others say limericks had their beginning in Ireland.

Whatever country limericks came from, this poetic form is well known to generations of English-speaking readers, by way of Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

According to The Poetry Foundation: “Mother Goose is often cited as the author of hundreds of children’s stories that have been passed down through oral tradition and published over centuries.

“Various chants, songs, and even games have been attributed to her, but she is most recognized for her nursery rhymes, which have been familiar with readers of all generations. Her work is often published as Mother Goose Rhymes. Despite Mother Goose’s celebrated place in children’s literature, the exact identity and origin of Mother Goose herself is still unknown.”

There are some who say that Mother Goose was a real person who lived in Boston in the 18th century and was known for her wild tales and poetry.

Various French texts that refer to Mother Goose date back as early as 1626. Other sources say that the figure of Mother Goose may even date back to the 10th century. Regardless of Mother Goose’s origins, it was the French author and poet, Charles Perrault, who

first published a Mother Goose collection of rhymes and other folk tales, and that was at the end of the 17th century. Perrault was the one who laid the foundations for what was then a new literary genre, the fairy tale, with his works derived from earlier folk tales. That book was first published in 1697.

Perrault’s most well-known fairy tales have given us “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Cinderella,” “Puss in Boots,” “Sleeping Beauty,” and “Bluebeard.” The 18th century English publisher of children’s literature, John Newbery, later in his career focused on the nursery rhymes, publishing Mother Goose's Melody, or, Sonnets for the Cradle in 179, which helped Mother Goose become further associated with children’s poetry. Poets quickly adopted the form and published limericks widely.

Here are some of the good Mother’s earliest limericks:

Humpty Dumpty Sat On A Wall Humpty Dumpty Had A Great Fall All The King’s Horses And All The King’s Men Couldn’t Put Humpty Together Again

Here’s another limerick we’re all familiar with…

Hickory, Dickory Dock,

The Mouse Ran Up The Clock.

The Clock Struck One,

And Down He Run.

Hickory, Dickory Dock.

I’ve always liked this silly one that had me looking to the night sky for moon-jumping cows and feline fiddlers:

Hey Diddle Diddle, The cat and the fiddle, The cow jumped over the moon. The little dog laughed, To see such sport, And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Now, here’s an example of one of my own limericks from my own pen (my own computer keyboard):

She picked up the Times-Gazette to read it,

And she found exactly what she needed,

It was full of good news,

And opinions and views,

And then her dog proceeded to eat it.

Here’s another example of my own wonderful limericking:

Some people read the newspaper for the obituaries,

While others read the papers in their school libraries

Some just look for sports,

While others police reports

And others read the weekend edition for Doug’s Musings and Memories.

(How’s that for a plug!)

Or…How about this one…

I want to wish you a joy filled wonderful week,

Just open the T-G and take a quick peek,

Look in there for yourself,

Don’t just toss it on the shelf,

And you may find the good things that you seek.