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Di-diddle di-diddle di-dum

June 22, 2020

One thousand, six hundred (and counting)
And seventy-six (number’s mounting).
These are limericks I’ve written
Ever since the bug’s bitten:
Obsessive — or simply astounding?

Yes, I have written 1,676 limericks for the Omnificent English Dictionary In Limerick Form. At the moment, this international project has defined and continues to define words within the Aa-Gz section of the alphabet. And it’s been going for over a decade! Lots of people join in, adding their own “valentines to words” in the English language, from all over the world. Many are from writers in English-speaking countries. Other contributors are from countries where English is not their first language, and yet they still manage to create the most witty, clever verses in English. Anyone can join in — adult or younger — the main criteria are a love of language and a basic knowledge of the form a limerick takes. We workshop each other’s work, suggesting tweaks and changes to produce the best word definition (as any dictionary should), as well as entertaining and sticking to the rhythm and rhyme rules of a limerick:

1. A limerick has five lines.
2. It contains two rhymes arranged at the ends of the lines in an A-A-B-B-A pattern.
3. The rhythm of the lines is anapestic. That is they go —
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
     di-DID-dle di-DA
     di-DID-dle di-DA
     di-DID-dle di-DID-dle di-DUM
4. The stresses in each line should land as shown in capitals above.

Unlike Edward Lear, pastmaster of the limerick, we never use the same end word or homophonic rhymes, but that’s really all there is to it. Fancy having a go?

To give you an idea, here’s one I wrote (not for the project) — ooh, that makes 1,677! — composed during Covid-19 “lockdown”:

Found on our Doorstep

copyright Celia Warren 2020

If the rainbows young kids paint and draw
Could but heal, we’d no longer endure
This disease in our midst,
Seven colours the grist
Of a powerful, magical cure.

© Celia Warren 2020

Fancy reading more of mine and others, or having a go at writing your own?
If you’re under 18, please ask your parents’ permission first.

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