A pun, said the English writer Charles Lamb, is a pistol let off at the ear, not a feather to tickle the intellect.
Just over a year ago I went through a phase of being obsessed by puns. Kept thinking of polysyllabic words and seeing if there was a pun there. Hullabaloo….? No. Limerick? No not really. Algorithm? That’s interesting! I kept doing is until I had a collection of about 150 puns. Put them in a book called Pundit. Here are some sample puns:
Harlequin – one of five siblings of the same age riding an American motorbike
Picnickers – choosing intimate apparel
Hydrangea – concealing a parks employee.
A friend and I have been producing Pun T-shirts. Puntees. Check them out here!
Limericks are tiny stories. In 5 lines a good limerick sketches a character whose actions or wishes lead to a conclusion which is often whimsical.
There was an old lady from Bristol
Who shot at the moon with her pistol
The bullet went past
And turned into glass
Now it shines in the sky like a crystal.
So they’re narratives in a tight, familiar form combining rhyme, regular line lengths, and meter. They’re usually light in tone. They evoke a smile or a chuckle:
There once was a fellow named Dwayne
Who wanted to eat a small train
He began with the engine
But got indigestion
So he ate an old tractor in Spain.
The basic structure is quite simple – the 1st 2 lines each have 3 strong beats, the 3rd and 4th lines each have 2 strong beats, and the 5th and last line has 3 strong beats, like the first 2. It’s a bit like Hickory dickory dock. If you read a limerick aloud you’ll hear where the strong beats are. The rhyme scheme is AABBA.
Occasionally limericks have a final line with 3 internal rhymes:
There’s a fellow I know named Crenshaw
Who likes to pretend he’s a seesaw.
Took his kids to the sea
And someone told me
She saw a seesaw on the seashore.
My limerick book’s called There was an old lady from Bristol. It contains 100 original limericks –child-friendly, nothing vulgar – plus ideas for writing your own.