Definitely Limericks

I wrote these for the Omnificent English Dictionary in English Form, a magnificent, ambitious, and slightly insane attempt to write a limerick for every word in the English language, one letter group at a time. You can see my additions and revisions there, but I like to keep them here as well; the menu below leads to permanent pages for each letter group. You can also see some co-written pieces, an area especially aimed at OEDILFers, and a page of limerick biographies of famous artists.

Cosy Denmark, of Legoland fame,
Enjoys candlelight’s flickering flame.
Bigger countries may snigger,
But ones this mini figure
That hygge’s the name of the game.

What Denmark lacks in mountains and land area it nowadays makes up for in hygge (HYEUH-guh), loosely translated as “cosiness”, which entails various aspects of the enjoyment of life’s simple pleasures of family, hearth and home. This middle-class concept, first recorded in the 18th century, now features heavily in Danish self-definition and lifestyle. One consequence is that the country consumes more candles per head than any other in the EU.

At the start of the show Breaking Bad,
Walter White’s a kind teacher and dad,
But things really get messy
When he hooks up with Jesse
And New Mexico’s drug lords get mad.

The phenomenal show Game of Thrones,
Full of dragons and sex, swords and bones,
Is a binge-watch worth startin’.
Author George R. R. Martin
Keeps us guessing about its unknowns.

The portraits by Anthony van Dyck
Are the kind you would certainly like
If you harboured a thirst
For King Charles the First
(Pre-removal-of-head-in-one-strike).

Van Dyck (1599–1641) was the leading court painter to Charles I in the years preceding the English Civil War.

Dürer’s print of a rhino serves well
To explain the man’s fame. You can tell,
Though he worked sight unseen
(On this woodcut, I mean),
That the sight of his work would compel.

Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528), the most famous son of Nuremberg, was a consummate painter and engraver. The fame of his 1515 woodcut of a rhinoceros (or RHINOCERVS, as the caption has it) should really belong to the unknown artist who drew the sketch of the beast that it closely follows, but such was his skill with framing and detail that the print had an immediate impact and has a lasting power that the drawing couldn’t and cannot match.

Raoul Dufy liked painting the sea
To an almost obsessive degree.
He would add lots and lots
Of nice palm trees and yachts...
The effect’s a bit kitschy for me.

Raoul Dufy (1877–1953) was part of the Fauvist movement at one point, but later developed his own style, described as stenographic after shorthand. These paintings had a bright, sketchy quality, with features of the landscape outlined in dark lines, and as often as not a lot of sea-blue. He is buried in Nice, whose palm-fringed bay he painted many times.

After dabbling in wine, Jean Dubuffet
Won plaudits for painting. Want proof, eh?
His wiggly designs
Hatched with red and blue lines
Blew Americans’ minds. See, no goof, eh?

The French painter and sculptor Jean Dubuffet (1901–1985) stopped and started his art career in his youth to pursue the family trade of wine-selling, but after the Second World War found success in America with his distinctive abstract art, which often featured red and blue hatching (shading using closely drawn parallel lines). He was instrumental in promoting art brut, a form of outsider art.

The pictures of Gustave Doré
Showed Quixote and Virgil at play.
The man had a craving
For fine wood engraving,
In lovely Victorian grey.

Gustave Doré (1832–1883) began his career as a caricaturist, and was best-known in his lifetime for his paintings, but was also a prolific illustrator of books and newspapers using the impressive wood engraving techniques of the day. Much of his work was produced for British publishers, and it also appeared in the Victorian weekly newspaper The Illustrated London News. His illustrations for Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Dante’s The Divine Comedy were definitive, and have influenced depictions of their characters and scenes ever since.

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