Leafing through Vern L. Bullough’s Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia, I discovered that Tennyson wrote rude limericks as an antidote to the rigours of more serious writing, and it inspired me to challenge you to compose ribald limericks in the style of a well-known writer.
Tennyson obviously isn’t alone. William Baring-Gould, who wrote a history of the genre, noted that when a limerick appears, sex is not far behind. Or, to put it another way:
The limerick’s an art form complex
Whose contents run chiefly to sex;
It’s famous for virgins
And masculine urgins
And vulgar, erotic effects
The challenge went down a storm, pulling in a record-breaking entry. The best of the bunch are rewarded with £8 each.
John Whitworth/Philip Larkin
Though most of my loves are Platonicer,
It was always quite different with Monica.
If I’ve got a hard ’un
Down there in the garden,
We do it behind the Japonica.
Max Gutmann/Ogden Nash
Although candy is dandy, what’s finer
And much quicker is liquor, so wine her.
Is a peck on the cheek
All the boon that you seek?
Tut! The odds say your goal’s her vaginer.
George Simmers/Sylvia Plath
Daddy, won’t you get out of my head?
(Oh I bet you were beastly in bed!)
You were fascist and vile
And I think of you while
Being thoroughly rogered by Ted.
When I met her, my married half-sister
looked like me in a gown, so I kissed her.
If I see my reflection,
I get an erection,
and that’s why I couldn’t resist her.
D.A. Prince/Emily Dickinson
He would tickle the Feathers — of Hope —
Should he slather my Breasts with rich Soap —
and the shape of my Sole —
O, such loud Barcarole —
singing Bind Me, Securely — with Rope.
Basil Ransome-Davies/William Wordsworth
A wildly priapic young fellow
Sported trousers of daffodil-yellow
Which at parties he’d doff
To insanely jerk off,
After which he’d feel placid and mellow.
Martin Parker/W.H. Auden
I will tell you the truth about love.
Before tentative push comes to shove
I’ll be happy to find
That it’s you I’m behind
Or below or beside or above.
Derek Robinson/William Shakespeare
Ophelia said ‘Let’s have some grub,
’Cos I’m starving.’ ‘Of course, tiger-cub,’
Replied Hamlet, ‘But first,
Thou must deal with my wurst.
Move thy hand like this … Ay, there’s the rub!’
Sylvia Smith/Dorothy Parker
On the naturist beach, he loves staring
At flesh that the ladies are baring.
He even makes passes
At girls who wear glasses,
Provided that’s all that they’re wearing.
Francis Harry/Elizabeth Bishop
Love’s an art that can turn to disaster.
From no date should you run away faster
Than a Star Wars fanboy
Who calls his favourite toy
His ‘light sabre’ or ‘Jedi Master’.
Bill Greenwell/John Keats
A nightingale’s warbling is canny;
An urn’ll outlive your old Granny:
I’m crazy for Psyche,
But really me likey
A handful of beautiful Fanny.
Alan Millard/John Betjeman
The vicar was tempted to flee
When the Bishop’s wife said after tea,
‘Oh Reverend Morgan
Do show me your organ!
It’s something I’m dying to see.’
John Samson/Robert Burns
Fae the crypt in the hert o’ St Giles
Cam’ a scream heard by folks roon fur miles
Says a wiley auld Hen
‘Dis the Deacon no’ ken
That oor Minister suffers fae piles?’
P.C. Parrish/Edward Lear
There was an old poet named Lear,
Whose sex life was, verbally, queer.
He pobbled his dong
In a luminous thong,
Turning green in Gromboolian beer!
A.G. Atkinson/Walt Whitman
I am large, I contain multitudes.
I engirth them in all attitudes.
Their flesh is divine,
And a blessing to mine.
We’re all mystical, hankering nudes.
Noam D. Plum/Wendy Cope
Bloody men are like buses? Well, test
That big claim and you won’t be impressed.
Contradicting that boast,
You’ll discover that most
Are like little French compacts at best.
Robert Schechter/Dylan Thomas
My darling, please turn out the light.
Don’t worry, I swear I won’t bite . . .
…unless you say, ‘Do, sir!
…It’s that which I choose, sir!
I pray, don’t go gentle tonight!’
Chris O’Carroll/Emily Dickinson
Are you — Nobody — sir? So am I!
I can see how you — reach for the Sky
With your Grail seeking Lance.
If you’re — up for Romance,
No Body than mine is more — spry.
Your next challenge is to submit a set of instructions for an everyday device that have been badly translated into English. Please email up to 150 words to email@example.com by midday on 10 May.