Today, I want to talk about some of the greatest sonnets by William Shakespeare. Okay, that was a lie.
I want to discuss some of the naughtiest limericks. I also want to try and understand where they came from and why they’re so popular today.
Let’s start with the one this article is named after…
“There once was a girl from Nantucket.
Who crossed the sea in a bucket,
And when she got there
They asked for a fare
So she pulled up her dress and said: “F*ck it!”
What’s great about this limerick is that it’s a funny poem which turns our expectations of what poetry ought to be.
This poem was not the original dirty Nantucket based limerick. There is another one which is just as crude, but this time, about a rather well-endowed man.
“There once was a man from Nantucket
Who’s d*ck was so big he could suck it.
He said with a grin,
As he wiped off his chin,
‘If my ear were a c*nt I would f*ck it'”
I have to be honest, I’ve never actually met this man or anyone from Nantucket for that matter, so I couldn’t comment on the accuracy of this claim.
However, even this version is not the original Nantucket based limerick. The first one was unfortunately not quite as X-rated. Although it was still pretty funny.
“There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.”
Comedy is subjective. So for some, the idea of a man with a thing big enough for him to suck is the height of comedy. For others, it’s far funnier for a daughter to run off with her dad’s money, and for that story to be told using puns.
What is a limerick
We’ve already covered three separate limericks in this article, but I haven’t yet told you what they are.
As you’ve probably already figured out, a limerick is a style of poetry.
Every limerick consists of 5 lines, with the first, second, and fifth line having 7-10 syllables, and the third and forth having 5-7.
The last word of the first, second, and fifth line must rhyme, as must the last words of the third and fourth line.
“There once was a girl from Nan(tucket).
Who crossed the sea it a (bucket),
And when she got [there]
They asked for a [fare]
So she pulled up her dress and said (“F*ck it!”)
Most of the limericks that are going to be worth talking about are not the kinds of things you would want to say in front of your parents.
This form of comedy is known as Ribaldry or Blue Comedy. Such humour is sometimes looked down upon as “Gross” and “Yucky”.
Most of the time, such comedy is talking about things which are x-rated, this could be the act itself, or just talking about related body parts such as butts, breasts, fannys, and d*cks.
Why do we like Blue Comedy?
X-rated comedy can be looked down upon by comedy snobs, but there are a large number of people who find these sorts of jokes funny, and not all of them are teenage boys.
Many grown-ups still find jokes about sex laughable.
This is likely because of the prudishness that we have towards sex in our society. We have created a social taboo around the topic. Breaking the taboo in such an unapologetic way causes a shock which some react to with laughter.
Many of us might like to think we’re sophisticated and high class, but at the end of the day, we’re all just animals, and we have urges. Knowing that we’re not the only ones and everyone else does makes us feel comfortable.
About the limerick
The exact origins of the limerick are unknown, they were likely spoken between friends long before anywhere written down.
But this first published limerick came about in the 18th century. They didn’t become popular until the 19th century when author Edward Lear was at the height of his popularity.
Some sources claim that originally, limericks were supposed to be naughty. And all of these deep and thoughtful limericks were nothing more than a passing fad.
Nantucket is the ideal town to base a limerick in because of the number of words that you could rhyme with it.
But it’s an actual town that you can visit.
Nantucket is in Massachusetts, USA. It’s actually the town where parts of the famous book Moby D*ck is set. In the 19th century (when limericks were popular), Nantucket was the whaling capital of the world.
This is a town with a strong naval history, and hundreds of people like to visit every year. Maybe if I ever do, I’ll have to ask one of the locals if all these rumours are true.
My own Blue Limerick
Since I’ve just spent an entire article talking about limericks, I think it’s only fair if I give it a shot myself. I’m not a poet, but I don’t think I’ve done too poorly.
“There once was a young man from Surrey.
Was his d*ck big? He did worry
But when the baker’s daughter
Did see what she oughta
She hopped on it in a hurry.”
I figured that most of these limericks are based in American places, so I should write one based on where I’m currently living.
“There once was a girl from Nantucket” is the first line of a limerick about a girl who did not have her fare. It’s based upon a poem about a man who was blessed. Which itself is based on a poem about a man with a strange choice of wallet.
Poetry is sometimes associated with intellectuals and people with degrees in English Literature, but the reality is that in the past, poems were most commonly spoken in pubs among friends who had a bit too much to drink.
The limerick is interesting because while it does have an official structure, the content is not what your English Teacher might teach you.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.