Friday, January 8, 2010

Man from Nantucket

"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 and the way the name of the island of Nantucket lends itself easily to humorous rhymes and puns, particularly obscene ones. In the countless vulgar versions, the mythopoeic protagonist is typically portrayed as a well-endowed, hypersexualized persona.

The many ribald versions of the limerick are the basis for its lasting popularity. Many variations on the theme are possible because of the ease of rhyming Nantucket with certain vulgar words. The poem has become a staple of American humor, both as an iconic example of dirty poetry and as a joking example of fine art, whose vulgarity and simple form provides an unexpected contrast to an expected refinement.

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