16 August 2020


A repeat of an old (2018) post, with its original thread. Among those on that thread is that great Pontiff Edwin Barnes, the first Bishop of Richborough (Rutupiae) since (probably) around 380. May he rest in peace. 

I invited English versions: in my view, the winner, in that old thread, was Mrs Sims.

Here is what I wrote in 2018:
I am not the first to point this out; but some readers may not have heard it: the first recorded Limerick is found in the middle of the prayer attributed to S Thomas Aquinas in thanksgiving after Celebrating and Communicating.

Sit vitiorum meorum evacuatio,
Concupiscentiae et libidinis exterminatio,
      Caritatis et patientiae,
      Humilitatis et obedientiae,
Omniumque virtutum augmentatio.

This must surely prove that there is something inherently satisfying about these structured rhythms and rhymes.

UPDATE about the early history of the Limerick.

Wikipedia offers the following from 1717, refering to a Dr Bainbridge who moved from Cambridge to Oxford to be professor of Astronomy. In the course of a lecture the poor higorant Tab said de Polis et Axis [he should of course have said Axibus]; eliciting the comment:
     Dr Bainbridge
     Was sent from Cambridge
To read lectures de Polis et Axis.
     Lett them that brought him hither
     Return him thither
And teach him the rules of Syntaxis. 

Not quite in accordance with the modern structure of the Limerick, but demonstrating the direction in which such popular epigrammatic verse was evolving.

I have come across the following, written by William Kent (not, I believe, Alexander Pope) in 1739. Again, it is embedded in a slightly longer piece ... so I have printed in bold the section which is Limerickish. 

Ho! Gate, how came ye here?
I came fro Chelsea the last yere
Inigo Jones there put me together
Then was I dropping by wind and weather
     Sir Hannes Sloane
     Let me alone
But Burlington brought me hither.

This architecton-ical
Gate Inigo Jon-ical
Was late Sir Hans Slon-ical
And now Burlington-ical.

This example illustrates an interesting point. The nineteenth century Limerick as it was popularised by Edward Lear had the same rhyme in the first and fifth lines. However, after Lear's time, the Limerick took on a new life when that restriction was abandoned. But this earlier evidence suggests that in the eighteenth century, Lear's rule did not yet exist.

Of course, the main reason I left the Church of England was that modern Anglican limericists (have I just coined a new word? Limerikhographoi, perhaps, in Greek?) show a dogged and tedious pertinacity in concentrating upon the current occupant of the See of Buckingham. (When the Vatican creates a Sedes titularis Buckinghamiensis I shall flee to the Chaldaeans.)

Future Church Historians may well wonder why there are so few Limericks relating to and illustrating the genius of this present pontificate. To help them out, I may be willing to enable any suggestions made as long as they strike me as decentia.

[Episcopal readers are welcome to use pseudonyms ... I do understand what nervous times these are for Successors of the Apostles ... as long as they put the + sign before their pseudonyms (++ for Metropolitan Archbishops; +++ for Cardinals).]


Michael McDonough said...

What makes for elegance?

Of my vices, lusts and fancies (frenzies?)
Let it be the source of surcease;
But of long-suffering and love,
Of humble faith from above,
Of all noble pow'rs, the increase.

Ed Cryer said...

This isn't by any means elegant, but I don't find Aquinas' Latin elegant at all.

Of my vices let there be an end
Of desire and greed too forfend.
But of love and patience
Humility and obedience
And all the virtues, one big crescend...

Regards, Ed

William said...

All blemish of soul be effaced,
All fleshly affections abased,
That to love and forbear,
Human pride to forswear,
The desire in my heart be emplaced.

Sue Sims said...

Make an end of my vices, I plead;
My envy, my lust and my greed:
Make me patient, I pray,
So I love and obey,
And increase all the virtues I need.

Edwin said...

I am confident that Cranmer would approve this rather loose translation:

May my wickedness all be forgiven
Desire and lust utterly shriven
In their place patience, love
And e’en at a shove,
May virtue abounding be given.

Pastor in Monte said...

Fr William wins, in my opinion.
Sunday prevented me having a shot.

Anonymous said...

O, dilly me all me sin,
Purge lewd and crude within,
Love's patience grant,
Yea, I humb'ly pant,
For a dram or two of gin.

...It needs work, but it does have a certain "ring" to it, no?

William said...

Very kind of you, Pastor, though I'm not too happy with the last line. (Besides, I wouldn't wish to set myself up in competition with my ex-PEV and Chapter confrater …)

Unknown said...

my free transaltion

there once was a man named egidio
who freed himself from dark libido
all the virtues arose
from his toes to his nose
how grand! cried that man named egidio.

+Seraphim Sigrist
ive journal =seraphimsigrist

Unknown said...

a less literal translation than
mine just sent.

from a livejournal friend
'macseamus1' offers this grand
bit of neo thomism as it seems to
me(but being only eastern orthodox
even my maritain is vague so who
am I to judge)

There once was a man from Sicily
who wanted to see how good he could be
his family brought him a w___e
whom he shoved out the door
saying "I'm getting the hang of this chastity!"

Unknown said...

Please visit:


Let it be for the elimination for my sins,
For the expulsion of desire and lust,
[And] for the increase of charity and patience,
Humility and obedience,
As well as all the virtues.

Extinguish concupiscent fires,
Eliminate lustful desires;
Give patience and love,
A plentitude of
What humble obeying requires.

O strengthen my efforts to rule
My passions and help me to cool
Attractions to sin,
Then help me begin
Considering virtue a jewel.

Oh LORD, I can prove intellectual,
A. Doctor, profoundly effectual,
Whose teachings are sure
If YOU keep me pure
With thoughts that are wholly asexual.

Another Version
by Robin Kay Willoughby

This limerick’s for purging my sin,
Ousting lust and desire from within,
Which leaves oodles of space
For agape and grace,
Plus humility, virtue, and gin.

Little Black Sambo said...

I would give the prize to Sue Sims.

Mary said...

An attempt:

To my sins may death it be,
To sins' love the end;
Of patience and charity,
Meek heart, true faith the friend;
And good, right, pure make me.

Edwin said...

Do away with lust’s burning fire,
Cast your every vice in the mire.
Then charity, patience
And humble obedience
Will give more than you can desire

vetusta ecclesia said...

I bet you think they can!

Kathleen1031 said...

You have all completely impressed me. Respect.

Dad29 said...

Anent Ms Willoughby's.........Not Gin. Most definitely not Gin. Some sort of wine, undoubtedly.

Thorfinn said...

Prune and cart away the evil in my soul;
Trim lustful desire from every root and bole.
But give me growth in patience,
True charity, obeisance;
Bless with every virtue more to make me whole.

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

There once was a Bishop of Rome
Spiritually a Marxist Gnome
But he admired himself
This sinister elf
As he daily soiled his throne

Victor said...

@ABS: this would be the old ICEL translation, surely?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Victor. It is a translation into Székely, an old Pungarian dialect

John Nolan said...

There was a young lady from Chichester
Who made all the saints in their niches stare;
One morning at Matins
Her breast in white satins
Made the Bishop of Chichester's britches stir.

Thomas said...

The best I can do is a half rhyme at the end, although in certain Irish accents it might be a perfect rhyme:

May vices in me be displaced,
With lust and desire effaced,
Then patience and charity,
Docile humility,
And all the virtues increased.

neilmac said...

There once was a Pope most uncouth
Who gave an instruction to youth,
To "Go make a mess",
Create chaos, no less,
His pontificate’s mirror, in truth.

Atticus said...

Father H set a limerick test:
“I will judge”, quoth the parson, “who’s best.
“And my taste shall hold sway -
“Let none carp at me. De
Gustibus disputandum non est.”