Celebrating Edward Lear:

The Limerick Challenge, Year Two!

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The Limerick Challenge 2006

Welcome back to the Van Patter Limerick Challenge!

As many of you know, this started last year when my son Nathan, then 17, challenged me to a competition in writing limericks. (Or did I challenge him? I can't remember.) We wrote our poems around randomly selected words and posted them for you to read and to vote on. A few of you did just that -- a few thousand of you, that is!

Well, we're at it again. Three new words were chosen from a dictionary with the age-old scientific method of closing one's eyes and placing a finger.

The three words we were given:

twig-- a small branch

petticoat -- an often fancy form of women's skirt

chomp -- to chew or bite


this year!

We decided to add two more categories to our list this year:

nonsense words. In keeping with Edward Lear's love of made-up words, this limerick would use a few silly, meaningless or invented words.

obscure literary reference. Since both Nate and I love books, I thought we'd each write our last limerick about something trivial from literature. It doesn't mind us if a few heads are scratched over them.

This year's entries:

Bruce's limericks

Nate's limericks

A jilted, old, near-sighted hound
fell in love with a twig on the ground.
Though he thought her quite shy
and her humor too dry,
he knew at least she’d stick around.

Two brothers once needed to get a boat,
so they borrowed their mother’s new petticoat
But as they jumped in,
much to their chagrin,
on the far shore their mom cried, “It better float!”

A ferocious, fanged beast from a swamp
cleared a whole nearby town with one chomp.
“My regrets” the beast said
from the mayor’s plush bed,
“but my old place was horribly damp.”
(yes, it rhymes... in an English accent!)

Imaginary words:

There once was a wacky wangdoodle
who sat his wee cat on a snoodle.
But one windy day
the snoodle gave way,
and she fell on her kitten kaboodle.

Obscure literary reference:

There was a Giant Rat of Sumatra
who was partial to songs by Sinatra.
Lured into the light
by strangers in the night,
the trap sprung, and Sherlock cried “Gotcha!”

I once stuck a twig up my nose
and someone said, "Do you suppose
that touching your brain
would cause you much pain?"
So the twig, ever slowly, arose.

A comment about that girl's petticoat:
it's trash from the H.M.S. Bettyboat.
It got caught in the lee
and was left out at sea.
So, really, it's now just a wetticoat.

"Chomp" rhymes with nothing I like,
like "bus" or "doggy" or "bike".
I could just use "swamp"
for that useless word "chomp",
but I'd much rather just go on strike.

Imaginary words:

There once was a Snorfagamorkus,
who tried to join the gakorkus;
but he tripped on a tleedle
and fell in a creedle,
causing quite a significant rorkus.

Obscure literary reference:

Of all the violence gratuitous,
by far the worst and most spuitous
is the bite and the wail of
the mouth and the tail of
Ouroboros: the long and circuitous.

Our voting is over -- see the result below. Of course, if you'd like to continue voting, feel free, but it won't decide the outcome. (It may, however, give me some satisfaction if eventually things even out a bit more.) Thanks to all who voted! Tune in again next year!

We have a winner!

Nate has won the Second Annual Limerick Challenge hands down. He gathered 60% of the vote, which makes my 56% win of last year look pretty feeble. Well done, Nathan!

I can't wait for the rematch!

Want to comment on our limericks? Send us a note, and I'll post it below. Tell us what you liked,
or why you voted the way you did.

Reader responses:

From my aunt, Jean Slaght, came this fun limerick which uses all three of the words:

In my garden, while dancing a jig,
My PETTICOAT caught on a TWIG,
Freeing myself with one CHOMP,
I continued my romp
With the twig now attached to my wig!

And my pal, Buzz, in Mississippi fashioned this one to comment on the contest and cast his vote:

Good Bruce, your poems are lots of fun,
And I know in the past you have won.
Now you've both been well-tested,
But by Nate you've been bested;
So I just had to vote for your son.

Text © 2006 Bruce Van Patter & Nathan Van Patter
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