A way of writing typical of English literature was the Nonsense, successfully used by Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland; Alice through the Mirror)and other late Victorian writers. In 1800 there was a traditional form of poetry created for children and based on nonsense, the Limericks. Their content is usually funny, sometimes coarse (volgare) and they are by nature simple and short, five lines only. The origin of Limerick poems can be traced back (si può far risalire) to the fourteenth century when they were used in Nursery Rhymes (poesie per bambini) and other poems for children. Afterwards, as they were relatively easy to compose and sexual in nature, they were often repeated by beggars (mendicanti) or in people in pubs and taverns of the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventh centuries. The word comes from the Irish town of Limerick, probably from a pub song or tavern chorus (coro) based on the refrain (ritornello) “Will you come up to Limerick?” Then the great Bard, Shakespeare himself, wrote limericks which can be found (si possono trovare) in two of his greatest plays, Othello and King Lear. In the 1800 they became famous again thanks to Edward Lear‘s Book of Nonsense (1846) which included the poetry form of Limericks. His work was not indecent and to its popularity contributed the humorous magazine Punch which started printing examples of these short poems. In the first edition of the book there were altogether (nel complesso) seventy-two limericks in two volumes which became extremely popular with children.
There was an old lady whose chin (mento)
Resembled the point of a pin; (spillo)
So she had made it sharp (lo fece aguzzo), and purchased a har (comprò un’ arpa),
And played several tunes (melodie)with her chin.