From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The following example of a limerick is of anonymous origin.
- The lim'rick packs laughs anatomical
- Into space that is quite economical,
- But the good ones I've seen
- So seldom are clean,
- And the clean ones so seldom are comical.
Gershon Legman, who compiled the largest and most scholarly anthology, held that the true limerick, as a folk form, is always obscene, and cites (x-xi) similar opinions by Arnold Bennett and George Bernard Shaw, describing the clean limerick as a periodic fad and object of magazine contests, rarely rising above mediocrity. That is to say, from a folkloric point of view, the form is essentially transgressive; violation of taboo is part of its function.