I like Limericks with internal rhyme, such as the famous one about Lord Buckingham and the summer sports of Cambridge. But I’m nowhere near good enough to write them. I think the best I’ve ever done was
An epitaph-writer named Gray
Didn’t feel elegaic one day.
His attempts at grave verse
Grew steadily worse
And became quite indecently gay.
When I was growing up my family had an elderly friend who used to visit us at Christmas. My father gave him The Lure of the Limerick one year, and he developed into quite a master of the form. Not only did he write topical limericks satirising cultural and political event of the day, but he wrote long sequences in which he set himself extra hurdles, such as his 117- Limerick cycle Who Killed Cock Robin, in which each Limerick rhymed the name of a type of bird, and The Great Robbery, in which each Limerick rhymed a dactyllic surname, such as “Chattaway”. There was also a cycle based on different arrangements of the syllables in the phrase “grey-green grosgrain”, and one detailing at lengths the adventures of a corrupt and unfortunate union organiser “Norman B. Gorman, foreman of storemen”.
When my brother Frank returned home for a year working as a prospector in Western Australia, having used his train fare to send his dog and having ridden across the continent on a trail-bike, Hugh wrote:
After years in the wilds of Golconda
Seeking gold for a V-12 Lagonda
Young Frankie rode back
With his wallet quite slack
On a 125-cc Honda
And with regard to his own meticulous, not to say fussy, care with weather reports and flight plans, he wrote:
“I will fly”, said a pilot named Hugh
“Through this fleecy white fair-weather Q.”
But that innocent cumulus
Concealed a large tumulus;
Hugh flew out with his wing all askew.
There were hundreds and hundreds of them, now sadly lost. The last repeated above stuck in my mind because of the internal rhymes.