Picks and Pans Review: The Penguin Book of Limericks

updated 02/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/10/1986 AT 01:00 AM EST

edited by E. O. Parrott

For people who can't get enough of this ridiculous stuff, here in one volume are 800 silly, tiresome, stupid, nasty, lewd, crude, rude, archaic, ghastly, sassy, brisk and sublime limericks. They are arranged in chapters with headings such as "Old Faithfuls," "History's Mysteries," "Clerical Errors" and "Unworldly Affairs." Some of them actually convey truths, as does this one by Morris Bishop: "The limerick is furtive and mean;/You must keep her in close quarantine,/Or she sneaks to the slums/And promptly becomes/Disorderly, drunk and obscene." But the most enjoyable are those under the heading "The Literary Scene." Here's one example by no less a practitioner of this unseemly art than W H. Auden: "T.S. Eliot is quite at a loss/When clubwomen bustle across/At literary teas,/ Crying: 'What, if you please,/Did you mean by The Mill on the Floss?' "Silly, yes, but irresistible. (Viking, $16.95)

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