Limerick (poem) antedating Nov. 30, 1880

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 4 16:13:23 UTC 2010

Mark, because the tune is identified as "Won't You Come Up to Limerick?" and
later testimony declares that "Won't you come up to Limerick?" was often
sung as a refain.

I'll go even further. The common noun "Limerick" is short for
"Limerick verse/ stanza," from the former practice of performing stanzas of
that form followed by the refrain, "Won't (Will) You Come [(Up) or (Down)]
to Limerick?" to an Irish tune so titled.

The refrain easily fits the tune, but the stanzas do not. This suggests that
the stanzas may originally have been declaimed rather than sung.

The melodic evidence:

The current tune for singing limericks possibly comes from trying to
adapt the Irish tune to the verse stanza. I feel a resemblance, but it may
be accidental.

Stephen's discovery may be the most important in limerick scholarship since
the publication of Lear's nonsense verses.

On Wed, Feb 3, 2010 at 3:26 PM, Mark Mandel <thnidu at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Mark Mandel <thnidu at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Limerick (poem) antedating Nov. 30, 1880
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> I'll add my voice in the chorus of praise, though slightly out of tune.
> Jonathan, where do you get your point #4 (Confirmation that that phrase was
> used as a chorus)?
> m a m
> at home in bed with a bad cold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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