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Английские тексты - Limericks

27 июль 2009

Verse writing is very popular, especially when it is funny. One of the best things about limericks is that they nearly always give you a giggle.
A good limerick is not an easy thing to write. When you read them, you might think they are simple to invent, but they are not, because there are rules you have to stick to. Limericks always have five lines and they are always nonsensical. The secret is to have a story in your limerick, to get a good couple of rhymes and always to have a funny last line.
Limericks are certainly not a modern invention. In fact, they are so old, nobody is quite sure how they started, but something most people agree about is that they began in Ireland. As long ago as the year AD 800, Irishmen were writing verses in this rather peculiar way. They did not have jokes in them in those days but they all had five lines and they all went with a swing when you said them. So much so, that scholars called the rhythm of the verses the "swinging metre".
Nobody knows for sure why a limerick is called a limerick, but it is also the name of one of the most famous towns in Ireland.
As the years passed, limericks spread to England. In 1820 a set was written called "Anecdotes and Adventures of Fifteen Young Ladies"; then another one came out called "The history of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women". There were sixteen separate limericks, each one about a different old woman, and they were certainly were a very peculiar lot!


There was a young lady
Whose nose was so long
that it reached to her toes;
So she hired an old lady
Whose conduct was steady,
To carry that wonderful nose.




There was an old person of Fife,
Who   was   greatly   disgusted with life;
They sang him a ballad,
And fed him on salad,
Which cured that old person of Fife.

One of the first complete books of limericks to be published was called "A Book of Nonsense". It was published in 1846 and the author was Edward Lear. He was actually a painter, so book, but it all started when he was working in the country mansion of the Earl of Derby.
Edward Lear had been asked to do some coloured paintings of the Earl's collection of parrots. As well as parrots, the Earl had a lot of grandchildren, and Edward Lear somehow had to keep them amused as well. So he started writing his limericks, and to go with each one, he drew a little sketch.


There was an old man of the North,
Who fell into a basin of broth;
But a laudable 2 cook
Fished him out with a hook,
Which saved that old man of the North.

The earl of Derby's grandchildren thought these were great fun, and when "A Book of Nonsense" was published, so did everyone else. Limerick writing became very popular, and many great authors turned their hand to them.
But it was in 1907 that the craze for limericks really caught on. Each week two famous London magazines ran competitions for the best limericks and hundreds of thousands of people used to enter. Since then people have never stopped writing limericks.



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