Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Limericks (Commonplace Book)

A recent Victoria's Secret ad features a baby faced model reciting a little poem.

There once was an angel with wings,
Who could fly without wires or strings,
She put on this bra,
Said I'm going out now,
No wires, no worries, just wings.

A couple of things to note there. First is the contrast with modern limericks, which are usually dirty and end with a punchline. For example

There was a young man from Peru
Who had nothing whatever to do.
So he took out a carrot
and buggered his parrot
and sent the result to the zoo.

But the Victoria's Secret does follow, sort of, the model of the lyric of the 1919th century. Edward Lear, the father of the modern limerick, did use a form in which the last word of the first line was the same as the last word of the last line; and unlike modern dirty limericks the last line of the limerick was not a twist, or punchline. Here is one of Lear's

There was an old man of Hong Kong
Who never did anything wrong.
He lay on his back
With his head in a sack
That innocuous old man of Hong Kong.

So the only thing that does not match in the Victoria's Secret poem is the rhyme scheme. I guess what knocks me out is what a massive effect not having a rhymed couplet has -- my brain wants to implode every time I hear her say the word "now" because my ear DEMANDS that she find a rhyme for the word "bra."

Also the delivery is horrible, because she says the last word of the poem with the pride little kids have when they recite something to grown-ups -- they are so proud of themselves for just getting through it (even though they have no idea what they have just said) and everyone else is proud too.

If you have a good limerick to share put it in the comments to this post. Here is one of my favorites:

There was a young man from Japan
Whose limericks never would scan.
When asked why this was,
He answered 'because
I always try to fit as many syllables into the last line as ever possibly I can.'


Jason Powell said...

In my obsessive love of all things "Pirate" lately, I have bought a cash-in CD entitled "Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys", which has 43 such songs all "executive produced by Johnny Depp & Gore Verbinski" (ha!)

One of the songs, "Good Ship Venus" is entirely made up of dirty limericks about the crew. I actually had the song running through my head this morning before I even visited this blog. Fate!

The first verse, followed by my favorite verse:

On the good ship Venus,
By Christ, you should’ve seen us.
The figurehead
Was a whore in bed,
Sucking a dead man’s penis.

The captain’s daughter Charlotte
Was born and bred a harlot.
Her thighs at night
Were lily white;
By morning, they were scarlet.

Darius Kazemi said...

I'm reminded of the chapter in Gravity's Rainbow consisting mostly of limericks about people having sex with various parts of the V2 rocket.

"There was a young man from Decatur
who slept with a LOX generator,
his balls and his prick
froze solid real quick
and his asshole a little bit later."

"There was a young fellow named Pope
who plugged in to an oscilloscope,
the cyclical trace
of their carnal embrace
had a damn nearly infinite slope."

Madd_Hadder said...

I am just amazed anyone can focus on any word being said by one of those models because I am usually distracted.

Katie Davis said...

Sweet Christ, I love limericks. Here's the one of which I'm proudest:

There once was a young man named Moses
Who thought he had cystic fibrosis.
"Doctor, help me," he said,
But the doc fell down dead!
Turns out it was just halitosis.

Dorky McDorkerson