“There once was a man from Nantucket” is the opening line for many limericks. The popularity of this literary trope can be attributed to the way the name of the island of Nantucket lends itself easily to humorous rhymes and puns, particularly ribald ones.

History

The earliest published version appeared in 1879 in The Pearl, Volume 3:

There was a young man from Nantucket.

Who went down a well in a bucket;

The last words he spoke.

Before the rope broke,

Were, “Arsehole, you bugger, and suck it.”

Another early published version appeared in 1902 in the Princeton Tiger, written by Prof. Dayton Voorhees:

There once was a man from Nantucket

Who saved all his cash in a bucket

But his daughter, named Nan,

Ran away with a man

And as for the bucket, Nantucket.

Vulgar Versions

The many spicy versions of the Limerick are the basis for its lasting popularity. The Mythopoeia protagonist is typically depicted as a well-hung, hypersexualized persona in the many vulgar versions. Many variations on the theme are possible because of the ease of rhyming Nantucket with specific offensive phrases. The following example comes from Immortalia: An anthology of American ballads, seafarers’ songs, cowboy songs, college songs, parodies, limericks, and other hilarious verses and doggerel, published in 1927.

In Popular Culture

The poem has become an essential of American humor. It is often used as a joking example of fine art, with the vulgarity providing a surprising contrast to an expected refinement, such as in the 2002 film Solaris, when George Clooney’s character mentions that his favorite poem is the most famous poem by Dylan Thomas that starts with “There was a young man from Nantucket” or Will & Grace season 8 episode 3 (“The Old Man and the Sea”), in which Grace criticizes her date’s poem due to the lack of rhymes, and as an example, she recites the first two lines of the spicy version: “There once was a man from Nantucket… Something, something, something… Suck it.”

“There Once Was a Man From Nantucket”: The Limerick

Many jokes assume the audience knows the poem so well that they do not need to hear any actual lines to get the allusion, such as Gilmore Girls season 3 episode 8, when Lorelai Gilmore jokes about carving something dirty into a bathroom wall by saying, “What rhymes with Nantucket?”; in “Who’s the boss” season 5 episode 23, there is talk about poetry class and Tony says about Angela “…last time she heard her name mentioned in a poem, it started with “There once was a man from Nantucket”…”; in the Tiny Toon Adventures episode “Wheel O’ Comedy” when Babs Bunny asks Buster Bunny to say the magic chant before spinning the wheel.

To which Buster begins reciting: “There once was a girl from Nantucket…” before she quickly cuts him off with: “Not that chant!” or a sketch from Robot Chicken season 8 episode 19, when J. R. R. Tolkien, writing the opening of the book The Hobbit, comes up with the line, “In a hole of Middle-earth, there was found a Hobbit.” The 2012 Gravity Falls episode “Headhunters” features the line, “There once was a dude from Kentucky…” Broadcast Standards and Practices requested that the line be changed from “There once was a man from Kentucky,” which retained the sentence structure of the original Limerick, arguing that “unsavory rhymes could be gleaned from it.

” In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, however, SpongeBob was on a stage, about to recite an opera song, when he pulled out a piece of paper and said, “There once was a man from Nantucket,” before the audience gasps, he puts the paper back into his pocket, and says “Oops, wrong one,” and afterward continuing with his song.

About The Poem

The scheme justifies the limerick form. The little poems have been present since the 11th century. An etymology blog worked to attribute the form of a limerick. The name of the blog is Haggard Hawks. The form was attributed to a prayer of the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas. If you know about Shakespeare’s plays, then you may know that limericks show up and the songs of drinking in these plays, including The Tempest and Othello. Some nursery rhymes, such as Little Miss Muffet and Hickory Dickory Dock, are still famous.

These are limericks that were published at the start of 1744. The limericks were published in the books named¬† Mother Goose’s Melodies and Tommy Thumb’s Pretty Song Book. Most people think that limericks are dirty.

Some myths are childlike about the limericks, and these things are inherited. You can say that limericks’ origin is filthy. The term’ limerick’ is taken from an old drinking game. It is famous among many British soldiers.

Drinker improvises various ribald songs. Each drinker tried to make a verse of five online. Then they combine the lines, and it comes up to Limerick. The infamous Limerick among all is “There was a man from Nantucket.”