Sunday, November 12, 2006

POETRY CORNER: Another Literary Mystery Laid to Rest

"There once was a man from Nantucket" is the opening line for many limericks and is among the most familiar opening lines in poetry. This literary trope can be attributed to the popularity of the limerick genre among the whalers who once lived on the island of Nantucket, whose name lends itself easily to humorous rhymes and puns.

Both obscene and chaste versions of the poem exist. In the countless vulgar versions, the mythopoeic protagonist is typically portrayed as a well-hung, hypersexualized persona.

One of the earliest known clean versions of the Man from Nantucket motif is this rendition from 1924:

There once was a man from Nantucket
Who kept all his cash in a bucket.
But his daughter, named Nan,
Ran away with a man
And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

God bless Wikipedia. Which is where you're going to have to go to read the dirty version.

I don't know about you, but I have spent decades wondering how this limerick goes, without ever thinking to look it up. How this is possible when I've had ample time to look up the height and career aspirations of countless an America's Next Top Model contestant -- well, I don't know. Come to be entertained. Stay to be informed.

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