President Woodrow Wilson was well known in his day for loving Limericks. He would recite them not just for entertainment in social situations but also in the company of his aides and advisers while executing his presidential duties. Today he would have thoroughly been enjoying himself by celebrating Limerick Day.
You’ve probably never heard of this holiday and no one is really sure who exactly created it. We do know it celebrates the birthday of writer Edward Lear who popularized Limericks in his 1846 Book of Nonsense. The day obviously also celebrates Limerick poems.
What exactly is a Limerick? A Limerick is a humorous verse or poem. It is five lines longs. The first, second and fifth lines rhyme and are generally longer while the third and fourth lines rhyme with each other and typically have less syllables. They began as nursery rhymes over 500 years ago with bawdy versions developing over time in pubs and taverns. This style of poem received its unique name from Limerick, Ireland after the city began to be popularly used in refrains.
Wilson was reportedly so fond of quoting Limericks to others that some thought he had written them. One hundred years later some of his favorite ones are still often mistakenly thought to have been authored by him. Joe DiPietro incorporated Wilson’s renowned Limerick habit into The Second Mrs. Wilson by having his Wilson cheekily recite to Edith one of the Limericks most commonly associated with him:
For beauty I am not a star,
There are others more perfect by far,
But my face, I don’t mind it
For I am behind it,
It is those in front that I jar.
This Limerick was actually written by a poet named Anthony Euwer, not Woodrow Wilson, and was first told to Wilson by his daughter Eleanor. If you enjoy a good Limerick like President Wilson did then be sure to celebrate this holiday by writing or reciting one of these humorous poems today.