May 12th is Limerick Day in honor of the British poet, Edward Lear, born in England this day in 1812.
Edward Lear lived during what is known as the Victorian era. He was born into a middle class family and was one of 21 siblings. When Edward was four he went to live with his oldest sister, Ann, whom he had a close relationship with. From the time Edward was six years old he suffered from epilepsy, bronchitis, and asthma. His ailments often led to periods of depression, which he tried to overcome by writing the silly nonsensical verses that he made so popular. He would sometimes use invented words, and his poetry would often lack a punch line or point, it was just plain silly. Edward Lear also became an artist, illustrator, and author. His most famous works include:
- Book of Nonsense (1846)
- The Owl and the Pussycat (1867)
- Nonsense Songs and Stories (1870)
- More Nonsense Songs, Pictures, etc. (1872)
- Laughable Lyrics (1877)
- Nonsense Alphabets
- Nonsense Botany (1888)
Lear’s nonsense books were quite popular during his lifetime, but a rumor started that “Edward Lear” was merely a pseudonym, and the books’ true author was the man to whom Lear had dedicated the works, his patron the Earl of Derby. Promoters of this rumor offered as evidence the facts that both men were named Edward, and that “Lear” is an anagram of “Earl”. Edward Lear proved to the accusers who he was by showing his name inside of his hat, and wrote a poem about himself.
“HOW PLEASANT TO KNOW MR. LEAR!”
“How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!”
Who has written such volumes of stuff! Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few think him pleasant enough.
His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big; His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.
He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
Leastways if you reckon two thumbs; Long ago he was one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs.
He sits in a beautiful parlor,
With hundreds of books on the wall; He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.
He has many friends, lay men and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat; His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.
When he walks in waterproof white,
The children run after him so! Calling out, “He’s come out in his night-
Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!”
He weeps by the side of the ocean,
He weeps on the top of the hill; He purchases pancakes and lotion,
And chocolate shrimps from the mill.
He reads, but he cannot speak, Spanish,
He cannot abide ginger beer: Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!
Edward Lear died in 1888 of heart disease.
Now that you know a bit about Edward Lear, what is a limerick? A limerick is a light, humorous poem of five lines with an aabba rhyme scheme. Lines 1, 2 and 5 each consist of 7-10 syllables and rhyme, and lines 3 and 4 each have 5-7 syllables and rhyme. Edward Lear would write his limericks under pictures he drew as space permitted, oftentimes running one line into the next.
The Jumblies and Other Nonsense Verses by Edward Lear FREE DOWNLOAD
A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear FREE DOWNLOAD
The Owl and the Pussycat FREE DOWNLOAD
Edward Lear A Life, by Peter Levi
Learn about Limericks Using:
Recite and/or memorize the poem:
Record what you learn about Edward Lear on:
Learn more about Edward Lear’s home and complete:
Practice handwriting skills with:
For a tea time treat:
In the spirit of Edward Lear’s silliness, make these Silly Cookie Smiles on a Stick
To Extend Your Study:
Check out the FREE Unit Study for Here’s a Little Poem