The Commuter Challenge

1 November 2011

The November 2011 Challenge

by CC @ 20:11

Write a limerick, or a series of limericks, about any literary classic. The limericks can be your re-telling, parody, commentary, alternate version, or abridgement of the classic – whatever you want to do.

The Results

Ryan Finholm

Moby Dick

Hi, you can call me Ishmael.
Now listen to my gripping tael.
Though told as a story,
It’s all allegory:
Revenge, and an albino whael.
It’s like this – I’m bored, and I’m cranky,
And there’s no dough left in my bankie.
I think I’ll try whaling,
Since I enjoy sailing,
And fishing, and mild hanky-panky.
So new buddy Queequeg and I
Head up to Nantucket to try
To find us a schooner
That needs a harpooner,
Or deckhand, or manicure guy.
We get ourselves hired on a ship
For this three-year-long whaling trip.
The third week en route
We find out the brute
At helm is a mad pegleg skip.
So Ahab’s the captain, it seems,
And he’s fixed on his crazy scheme
To slaughter the beast
That had made a feast
Of his leg (plus his former team).
Says Ahab, “This shiny doubloon
Will go to the first sharp-eyed goon
Who sights Moby Dick,
Then shouts, ‘Firsties!’ quick.”
[But the coin’s just a gilt picayune.]
The Pequod sails on through the seasons,
And First Mate Starbuck ponders treason,
While Queequeg constructs
A sarcophagucts
For himself for no pressing reason.
At long last that damned white whale breaches,
And charges at us till it reaches
The Pequod and crew,
To smash it in two,
While I, of course, soil my breeches.
But Ahab just fixes his stance,
He grips his harpoon and he rants:
“From hell’s heart I stab!
I’m Captain Ahab!
Remember me? You ate my pants!”
Then Ahab throws, and hits its fin.
The spear hooks into the whale’s skin.
But that spear is guiding
A rope that is hiding
A coil wrapped around Ahab’s shin.
The whale dives and drags Ahab down.
The Pequod sinks. All the crew drowns.
But afloat in the basket
Of Queequeg’s new casket
Is me, paddling back to town.
So that’s all, my story is told.
The moral of it is threefold:
Praise the Almighty,
Don’t be uptightie,
And don’t ever ever trust whitey.
Brian Raiter

Romeo and Juliet

Young Romeo wooed Juliet.
Their parents put them in a sweat.
She faked her own death;
He breathed his last breath:
They’re tragic as tragic can get.


Hamlet’s bad habit of dithering
Left his resolve always withering.
When he at last acted
Things were so protracted,
It left the whole family in smithereens.

King Lear

When Lear tries to mete out his wealth,
His heirs take to falseness and stealth.
Half out of his wits,
The poor king admits
That children are bad for your health.


Macbeth took advice from some witches
That left him too big for his britches.
This inspired his wife.
Then they all got the knife.
The moral is, can’t trust them bitches.

Sonnet 18

Your hotness, when fully in blossom,
Can make the sun want to play possum.
Your beauty won’t fade
Or fall into shade,
‘Cause I wrote this down, and I’m awesome.


  1. Brian’s entries are awesome, particularly his limerick for Sonnet 18, which is funny yet absolutely true to the original.

    It took me a while to decide which classic to work with. For a while I was thinking of doing Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven”, but when I looked into it I realized that there is not enough actual content in the poem to fill out a complete 5-line limerick. So instead, I went ahead and did The Raven as a haiku:

    I was pretty sad.
    Then a raven squawked at me.
    Now I’m *really* sad.

    Eventually I settled on Moby Dick. I wanted to do it as true to the original as possible, so I am ashamed of the following errors/artistic license changes: in the novel the doubloon is an actual gold doubloon (not a ‘gilt picayune’), Moby Dick smashes up the whaleboats before attacking the Pequod, Ahab was in a whaleboat during the battle (not on the Pequod), the rope was around Ahab’s neck (not his shin), and Ishmael is eventually rescued by another boat while floating on Queequeg’s watertight coffin (he doesn’t ‘paddle back to town’). Everything else, including the bits about manicures, pants-soiling, and not trusting whitey, is exactly as portrayed in the novel.

    by RyanF — 17 December 2011 @ 14:37

  2. I decided against using chained limericks pretty early on in the month. I guess I’m too hooked on the short-form-with-punchline that is the standard purpose to which limericks are put. Looking for a collection of classics that I could draw on, Shakespeare naturally presented itself. The violence done to his plots by trying to sum them up in five lines (and still leave room to make a snarky comment) is on full display here.

    After reading Ryan’s comment, though, I’m starting to think that I should have done a selection of Poe’s stories instead.

    by Brian — 18 December 2011 @ 10:42